The first public hearing of the BECA Committee for the new year of 2021, held on 11th of January, was divided into two panel sessions, and addressed boldly patients’ rights and access.

Dr. Stanimir Hasardzhiev represented both the National Patients Organisation-Bulgaria and the Patient Access Partnership at this meeting. During the first part of the hearing, entitled “Patients’ Rights, including the right to be forgotten, as well as patient-centred healthcare systems”, he together with distinguished experts and patient advocates, addressed the potential of the Beating Cancer Plan for eradicating the inequities in access to cancer care across the EU and its potential value for further action in other key disease areas.

There is a long road ahead until patients’ rights become intrinsic to health systems across the EU – disparities undermine universal coverage and equity” stated Dr. Hasardzhiev during his speech. He added that the EU Beating Cancer Plan is in essence a disease-specific strategy but should not be mistaken for a pure technical exercise with potential positive impact for a specific group of patients: “It is much more than this; it is a historic momentum, a ‘rocket carrier’, and thus, should be the blueprint for other diseases.” He urged policymakers to continue to enhance European cross-border, multistakeholder cooperation, and to live up to Europeans’ expectations and every individual’s right to health. He stressed that the Plan should not try to address all specific challenges that are a matter of healthcare system design and management, which undoubtedly remain in the remit of the EU member states competencies; instead, we need to have united action at the EU level to develop standards and guidance for implementation through best-practice replication supported by appropriate financial instruments.

Dr. Hasardzhiev encouraged that the Beating Cancer Plan is seen as a strategic step to:

  1. Promote excellence and provide guidance for implementation.
  2. Eradicate inequalities in access to care.
  3. Facilitate timely access to quality health and care.
  4. Provide a springboard to take further immediate actions in other chronic diseases affecting million Europeans.

The four and a half hour meeting, dedicated to patients’ experiences and their recommendations for the forthcoming BECA report, raised important questions on the right to be forgotten, the need to strengthen the Cross-border Health Directive and the ERNs, assuring high-quality and affordable health and care through a revised pharmaceutical policy and the need for stronger focus on prevention for better cancer survivorship outcomes whilst ensuring adequate palliative and supportive care.

Speakers in the meeting represented a wide array of stakeholders, including WECAN, Regional Governance and Languages at WHO, Digestive Cancers Europe, European Cancer Organisation, International Society of Geriatric Oncology, Eurocarers, European Oncology Nursing Society. They were united welcoming this opportunity to engineer real change, with the right ambition and collaborative spirit.

 

Background

Every year, 3.5 million people in the EU are diagnosed with cancer, and 1.3 million die from it. Over 40% of cancer cases are preventable. Without reversing current trends, it could become the leading cause of death in the EU. Europe’s beating cancer plan aims to reduce the cancer burden for patients, their families and health systems. It will address cancer related inequalities between and within Member States with actions to support, coordinate and complement Member States’ efforts.

In context of the Europe’s beating cancer plan, in June 2020 the European Parliament plenary approved the creation of the Special Committee on Beating Cancer (BECA), made up of 33 full members. The main responsibilities of the special committee include looking at actions to strengthen the approach at every key stage of the disease, evaluating best ways of supporting research and ensuring a close link with the research mission on cancer in the future Horizon Europe programme, listening to the current evidence and data available and identifying policies and priorities, as well as evaluating the possibilities where the EU can take concrete steps to fight cancer.

Further information about Europe’s beating cancer plan could be found on BECA and EC website.

For more information of Stanimir Hasardzhiev’s intervention please contact PACT’s Secretariat at iva@eupatientaccess.eu