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July 2013: MEP Werthmann hosts a panel discussion on neurodegenerative diseases in the European Parliament

Alliance activities

On 9 July, Angelika Werthmann, MEP (Austria) organised a panel discussion in the European Parliament to discuss "The challenges of Neurodegenerative Diseases (NDD) in the Workplace". The aim of the meeting was to highlight the challenges faced by people affected by NDDs while still employed and to propose recommendations for future actions.

The challenges were discussed by Annette Dumas, EU Policy Advisor, Alzheimer Europe, Heather Clarke, European Political Affairs Officer, European Parkinson’s Disease Association and Shana Pezaro, a person with MS representing the European Multiple Sclerosis Platform. All concurred that diagnosis was made far too late, when the symptoms are acute.

Despite some interesting but rare initiatives to help people with NDDs remain at work for as long as possible, people suffering from these three neurodegenerative diseases face common challenges on the workplace: stigma and discrimination, the necessity to give up work and lack of adequate support.

The speakers made clear recommendations for future action in the field of early diagnosis, raising awareness, social legislation, mapping of the needs of the persons as well as their involvement in the identification and the planning of services and policies.

Philippe Cupers, Head of Sector Neurosciences, DG Research & Innovation, European Commission, agreed with the three speakers that brain diseases are costly (EUR 800 billion in Europe in 2010) and that the ageing of the population is another major EU challenge. He then listed the EU commitments in research on NDDs: Horizon 2020 (the current EU research programme), the Joint Programming of Neurodegenerative Diseases (JPND) and the European Month of the Brain.

Mr Cupers also mentioned the European Pact for Mental Health and Well-Being - a DG Health initiative launched in 2008 - and the Joint Action on Mental Health that started in 2013. One component of this Joint Action is to support employees affected by a disease.

Ms Werthmann (pictured) closed the meeting by emphasising the role and responsibility of politicians in taking appropriate actions. She also pledged to table a Written Declaration on the challenges of NDDs in the workplace by early autumn 2013.



Last Updated: Wednesday 20 November 2013