#EAPM – Global Conference report launched, EU leaders bash out deal to counter pandemic

Welcome, one and all, to the midweek European Alliance for Personalised Medicine (EAPM) midweek briefing. Plenty to talk about today, but first, a word on EAPM’s recent online Global Conference, which took place on 14 July and for which a report is being released today, please see the following link.  

The report is entitled ”Forward Together – Where we are now and the necessary next steps for a resilient healthcare System: effective ways of investing in health-care in a COVID 19 and Post-COVID 19 world’.

 A truly global focused discussion

Countries from all over the world, including China, Japan, Australia, New Zealand, Malaysia, Brazil, Peru, Cuba, Rwanda, South Africa and, of course, North America, and the EU were in attendance, with more than 460 delegates providing their key opinions.

None too surprisingly, it brought together representatives of distinct disciplines and interests – public health decision makers, regional institutions, politicians, patient organizations, and associations engaged in personalised health care, and the principal subject for discussion explored the connections and parallels between tackling COVID-19 and developing personalised medicine.

With EAPM’s continual promotion, during the COVID-19 pandemic, of personalised medicine into global health-care systems, the conference concluded that such an approach allowed the health of all citizens to benefit from the uptake of innovative medical interventions tailored to the specific needs of individual patients, providing better treatment, preventing undesirable adverse reactions, and fostering a more efficient and cost-effective health-care system.

All delegates expressed their considerable satisfaction with proceedings, and looked forward to the next conference of this kind.

White smoke on EU COUNCIL coronavirus deal

Following one of the longest EU ministerial meetings (four days and four nights) on record, EU leaders, led by Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and European Council President Charles Michel, finally reached a deal on coronavirus recovery that was announced at 5h30 on Tuesday (21 July) morning.  The EU’s new recovery fund, which will be composed of €390 billion in grants and €360bn in loans, will be attached to a new €1.074 trillion seven-year budget, the Multiannual Financial Framework (MFF), on which heads of state and government also reached unanimous agreement — bringing the total financial package to €1.82 trillion.

“We did it! Europe is strong. Europe is united!” Michel said. Hmmmm. We’ll see…

Health front and centre in EU, funding less so

While the EU, Europe and the world get to grips with the painfully slow return to normality (whatever that word may mean) after coronavirus, it must nevertheless be acknowledged that the crisis has, at least, put health front and centre in the EU. Learning its lessons from how the EU has coped, and not coped, with COVID-19, the European Commission proposed a standalone health financing programme totalling €9.4 billion, but that pledge, unfortunately, proved too good to be true. 

The biggest chunk of the program, totalling €7.7 billion, was axed during the mega talks over the weekend and into Tuesday, but the European Parliament is offering the last chance to salvage at least part of the deal. Highlighting health, research and climate change as priorities for the Parliament, MEP negotiators said they would strive to secure higher amounts for certain programmes, with health a key priority.

Parliament intends to hold an extraordinary plenary session tomorrow (23 July) to work out an “initial assessment” of the agreement. Senior MEPs from the main groups were in touch and negotiating on Tuesday to come up with a joint draft, two MEPs said.

EU4Health cut will not hold Commission back, insists Commissioner Kyriades

While expressing her disappointment by cuts to the EU4Health programme in the bloc’s newly acquired budget and recovery package plan, Commissioner Stella Kyriades nevertheless told POLITICO that Brussels will do more for health.

Contact tracing cited as vital

 Following the UK gaining the unwanted record of highest number of coronavirus death in Europe, after it quickly abandoned its initial contact tracing,  on Monday (20 July), WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus again highlighted how this is the “bedrock” of any outbreak response. No one is exempt, he said, adding that contact tracing is “essential for every country, in every situation”.

Cancer likely to kill thousands more in UK following coronavirus delays

According to the latest research published in the Lancet Oncology, thousands of cancer patients will die avoidable deaths in England as a result of delays in diagnosis and referrals following the coronavirus crisis. In one of two modeling studies, the authors estimate around 3,500 potentially avoidable deaths in the next five years in the next five years as a result of cancer of the breast, colorectal, esophageal and lung. 

The authors, led by Ajay Aggarwal from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, call for “urgent policy interventions” in the areas of public health messaging; information for health care workers on managing the risk for those with suspected cancer and increasing diagnostic capacity by increasing working hours and referrals. “Prioritizing patients for whom delay would result in most life-years lost may be considered a reasonable option for reducing the overall burden of mortality,” said Clare Turnbull from the Institute of Cancer Research, who led the study.

Coronavirus global response: 2 EU Humanitarian Air Bridge flights to South Sudan 

An EU Humanitarian Air Bridge flight arrived in Juba, as part of the European support to vulnerable countries during the coronavirus pandemic. The flight carried on board humanitarian supplies and medical equipment needed to support the national response to the pandemic. Another flight will follow in the coming days, bringing the total amount of cargo transported to 89 tonnes. This makes it one of the largest EU Humanitarian Air Bridge operations since its launch.   

“The EU continues to stand by the people in need in South Sudan, especially in the current worldwide health crisis. Tackling the pandemic globally is in the interest of all. The EU Humanitarian Air Bridge Flights deliver medical equipment and other supplies to protect healthcare and frontline humanitarian aid workers. To ensure aid continues to reach those most in need, it is essential that humanitarian workers have full and safe access to do their lifesaving job,” said Crisis Management Commissioner Janez Lenarčič.  

Furthermore, to help the most vulnerable in South Sudan, in 2020, the Commission is mobilising a total of €42.5 million in humanitarian assistance. This includes €9 million to address the effects of the desert locust plague on local communities. 

In addition, in longer term development support as part of the ‘Team Europe’ package, €49.1 million from the EU and its member states will also be provided in South Sudan.This funding helps to strengthen the health system, support the economy and reinforce social support systems in the country.  The EU Humanitarian Air Bridge flights to Juba are being operated jointly by the EU, Italy and France and in coordination with the South Sudanese authorities. 

EU-funded humanitarian projects in South Sudan are addressing the extreme food and nutrition needs by providing life-saving food assistance, nutritious supplies and fast-growing crop seeds to the most vulnerable. Other priorities include the provision of basic health care in hard-to-reach areas and protection assistance for the most vulnerable, especially women and children. In the current pandemic context, the EU’s humanitarian partners are scaling up vulnerable people’s access to health, water, sanitation and hygiene and providing essential protective equipment for health workers and risk communication.  

And that is all for your midweek update, stay safe, and see you on Friday (24 July).  Here is that link for the Global Report.

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