EULAR unveils ambitious 2024-2029 European Manifesto to combat rheumatic diseases

The European Alliance of Associations for Rheumatology (EULAR) is proud to announce the launch of its 2024 - 2029 European Manifesto, aimed at addressing the urgent need for a coordinated European response to Rheumatic and Musculoskeletal Diseases (RMDs), focusing particularly on the areas of quality of care, research, and social policy. This initiative comes at a critical juncture as Europe has elected new Members of the European Parliament (MEPs), highlighting the importance of prioritizing health and socio-economic challenges, particularly those posed by RMDs.

Why are RMDs an issue for Europe?

RMDs, often dubbed 'the invisible diseases', affect approximately 120 million Europeans, constituting one in five individuals across the continent. Despite their prevalence, there remains a significant lack of awareness among policymakers and the general public, leading to their frequent neglect in political and financial agendas. However, the impact of RMDs is far-reaching, contributing to physical disability, chronic health conditions, and substantial economic burdens, amounting to an estimated 240 billion Euros annually.

Furthermore, RMDs not only pose a direct threat to individual health but also contribute to the development of high-mortality Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs) such as cancer, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and mental health disorders. Alarmingly, RMDs represent over 50% of Years Lived with Disabilities (YLDs) in Europe and are responsible for approximately 38% of all occupational diseases.

A comprehensive RMD strategy addressing quality of care, research, and social policy

Recognizing the gravity of this situation, EULAR calls upon the European Union and national governments to develop comprehensive RMD strategies. The EULAR 2024 - 2029 European Manifesto has already garnered support from multiple MEPs, who recognise the urgent need for action in addressing the challenges posed by RMDs, particularly in quality of care, research, and social policy.

The strategies developed should encompass various areas, including improving prevention, early diagnosis, treatment, and rehabilitation interventions for RMDs. EULAR advocates for prioritizing RMDs within the EU's 'Healthier Together - NCD Initiative' and national NCD plans, as well as addressing the chronic shortage of rheumatologists and healthcare professionals specialized in rheumatology in order to improve standards of quality of care.

As RMDs can affect people of all ages throughout their lifespan, EULAR emphasizes the importance of social policies aimed at mitigating the burden of RMDs on health-related quality of life, education, and employment. This includes recognizing RMDs as a leading cause of disability, promoting inclusive and flexible education and workplaces, and increasing funding for improved mobility and accessibility measures.

In order to advance not just rheumatology, but the medical field as a whole, EULAR calls for the establishment of an ambitious research agenda targeting the causes, treatment, and multidisciplinary care models for RMDs. This includes launching a dedicated 'Inflammation, non-communicable diseases, and comorbidities' European Partnership under Horizon Europe and strengthening support for RMD-related European Reference Networks (ERNs).

Together, EULAR, its member organizations, and its partners are committed to driving forward a European response that prioritizes the health and well-being of all citizens.


The opinions expressed here are the views of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of News Medical.
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