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Milan Cabrnoch (Czech Republic)

MEPs speak out on dementia

The multi-annual programme of the European Union for promotion of health is one of the key documents in this area. Health is not just a pre-condition for growth but also for a satisfying and happy life of the individual as well as for society as a whole.

The Health for Growth Programme sets out goals and objectives for the next seven years (2014-2020) and focuses on selected issues, where it is reasonable to expect the European added value. The European Commission, which has submitted the proposal, is aware of the limited competencies of the European Union in this field. Policy in the area of health care lies in the competence of Member States. The EU can support and complement national policies, support and encourage cooperation between member states and work actively in the areas, where the Member States cannot act individually or where the common "European" solution is more advantageous than solutions at the level of individual states.

One of the challenges our society is facing is demographic ageing. We live longer than any time before and this is a great success. Longer life is the result of extraordinary progress in medicine and, at the same time, of a large improvement in living conditions.

With ageing the prevalence of Alzheimer's disease and other dementias increases. The number of those in need of long-term care and support is thus rising.

The EU programme, Health for Growth, is important for Alzheimer's disease for several reasons:

  • The Programme supports innovation and international cooperation in the area of science and research. This is the best way to help us find effective treatment for Alzheimer's disease.
  • The international exchange of experience supports dissemination of successful models of quality long-term care, which is the precondition for dignity and quality of life for people with Alzheimer's disease. The support of NGOs and associations of patients and their relatives helps people with disabilities to better cope with restrictions caused by the disease.
  • The regulation speaks about the development of common solutions and tools to increase the quality of health care and safety of patients. Such solutions to which individual member states sign up can significantly help in the effort to achieve better quality and safer care.
  • Each of us wishes to live at home with their relatives. The modern technologies help chronically ill and often lonely patients to live at their home, instead of living in an institution.
  • One of the most important aspects of the proposed regulation is the aim to strengthen the position of the patient. An active role of the patient in health care, prevention of disease as well as in its treatment and long-term care is the key to a more effective use of human and financial resources. Patients and their families need easy access to information. The communication between patients and health care facilities should be on a continual basis.
  • An important part of the proposed regulation is an effort to support the development of human resources, which means ensuring the availability of qualified doctors, nurses and nursing assistants. At present, there is shortage of such workers in some countries.

From my point of view, the EU can be most helpful and efficient in addressing Alzheimer's disease especially in the areas of science and research to find the real causes of the disease and effective treatment, to improve the quality and safety of care with an emphasis on strengthening the role of the patient and dignity and quality of his or her life, if possible, in the home environment.



Last Updated: Tuesday 16 September 2014