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Report of the Meeting of the European Parliament Osteoporosis Interest Group

June 1, 2005, European Parliament, Brussels

Péter Olajos MEP

Péter Olajos MEP

Péter Olajos MEP, co-vice chair of the European Parliament Osteoporosis Interest Group, hosted a meeting for some 30 Interest Group members, invited representatives from the European Commission, Health Counsellors from Member State Permanent Representations to the EU and some members of the EU Osteoporosis Consultation Panel at the European Parliament on June 1, 2005. Mr. Olajos welcomed the participants noting that Mr Achilleas Mitsos, Director General of Research in the European Commission sends his wishes for a successful meeting.

Mr. Olajos stated that at the European level work has been conducted over the past 7 years to raise awareness about the serious social and economic consequences of osteoporosis and to stimulate much needed policy developments to move towards better bone health for all Europeans. "The good news is that with the support of committed individuals we are starting to see some significant progress".

News from the member states

Milan Cabrnoch MEP

Milan Cabrnoch MEP

Milan Cabrnoch MEP, member of the EP Osteoporosis Interest Group, outlined the launch of a multi-stakeholder awareness campaign in the Czech Republic. The Czech National Osteoporosis Forum is an umbrella network organization which brings together osteoporosis patient societies, medical associations, health policy officials and ministry representatives, health insurance companies and industry representatives. The Forum's goals are to further awareness and knowledge of the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of osteoporosis among the public and health professionals as well as to encourage mutual cooperation among the stakeholders. The founding meeting of the Forum was held on June 3, 2005 in Prague with 36 journalists showing their support by covering the event.

Angela Jordan, policy manager

Angela Jordan, policy manager

Angela Jordan, policy manager, UK National Osteoporosis Society (NOS), was delighted to announce to participants that the government has promised 30 million euro to improve diagnostic services in England. The announcement by Health Minister Dr Stephen Ladyman followed years of collaborative work between the NOS and the All Party Parliamentary Osteoporosis Group. The much-needed funding is expected to help lower the long waiting times for services to diagnose osteoporosis. The NOS will now focus on ensuring that the funding goes to where it is most needed and that there is equity across the whole UK.

Angelika Niebler MEP

Angelika Niebler MEP

News from the EU level

Angelika Niebler MEP, co-chair of the European Parliament Osteoporosis Interest Group listed a few of the recent steps forward at the EU level, stating that 'these examples are just the beginning of a long process'.

  • Mr. Peter Olajos MEP, a vice-chair of the Interest Group, and Mr. De Rossa MEP, a member of the Osteoporosis Interest Group, put forward questions to both the Commission and the Council regarding their further approach in the field of osteoporosis. Both the Commission and the Council confirmed that further action on a European level is planned and desired.

  • A "motion for a European Parliament resolution on gender discrimination and health systems" was drafted by the European Parliament Committee on Women's Rights and Gender Equality. The rapporteur, Mrs. Eva-Britt Svensson MEP, included an important point calling on Member States, within their national health systems, to prevent fractures by early diagnosis of osteoporosis by providing reimbursement for bone density scans before fracture.

  • In consideration of the UK's EU Presidency starting July 1st, Mrs. Mary Honeyball MEP, co-chair of the European Parliament Osteoporosis Interest Group, wrote a letter to the newly elected UK minister of health, Mrs. Patricia Hewitt. In her letter Mrs Honeyball stated that it is of great importance to include osteoporosis as an example of health inequality in the UK Presidency's "Tackling Health Inequalities: Governing for Health" conference to be held in October 2005.

  • The Austrian government plans to make women and health one of the major topics during its EU Presidency in the first half of 2006. And they have already hinted that osteoporosis is going to be part of their initiatives.

Dr. Niebler reminded participants that it is extremely important to ensure that osteoporosis is part of the 7th Framework Programme, the EU's main instrument for funding scientific research over the period 2007 to 2013. Important decisions concerning this key dossier are coming up. I and my colleagues on the Committee on Industry, Research and Energy will do our best to ensure that budget issues do not reduce the availability of funds.

Future developments – Austrian Presidency, 1st semester 2006

Hubert Hrabcik MD

Hubert Hrabcik MD

Hubert Hrabcik MD, Director General of Public Health, Austrian Federal Ministry of Health and Women, presented a brief overview of the Austrian experience, a country in which 600-700,000 people are estimated to be at high risk of osteoporosis and where economic costs of more than 60 million euro (in 2002) represent a real financial burden. In terms of the Austrian Presidency in the first semester of 2006, Dr. Hrabcik confirmed that women's health would be among the main issues during the term. Two programmes will be started in Austria. A gender-specific health prevention test to be adapted to three different age groups. A second programme will be a health passport for school children up to the age of 15 which will include prevention information. Osteoporosis will be part of the information package. Part of the program will include a monthly health issue to be highlighted through the media. "At the moment, prevention is a passive process which does not begin early enough", he stated.

Discussion

In response to Dr. Hrabcik's presentation, Dr. Olli Simonen, Finnish member of the EU Osteoporosis Consultation Panel and government ministerial advisor, raised the all important issue of a Council Conclusion.

Dr. Olli Simonen

Dr. Olli Simonen

"The problem is that there are no official activities on the Commission level. We need a Council Conclusion as a next step or we cannot do much more at the national level", stated Dr. Simonen. Dr. Hrabcik responded that he will be committed to raising the priority of osteoporosis during the Austrian presidency. Dr. Simonen added "We have a Conclusion on cardiovascular diseases, diabetes and other diseases, but osteoporosis is missing. This is a big challenge of public health in Europe, especially with the ageing of the population" "I hope we can finish this at the end of our presidency", replied Dr. Hrabcik.

John O'Toole

John O'Toole

John O'Toole, Health Counsellor, Permanent Representation of Ireland to the EU, stated that the government of Ireland would give its full support to do whatever can be done to push this important issue forward on the national agenda and that it would support the Austrian Presidency's emphasis on health in 2006.

In conclusion, Peter Olajos MEP thanked the speakers and attendees, saying "Much more needs to be done to ensure access to information, diagnosis and treatment to prevent fractures caused by osteoporosis for all Europeans. We hope that today's participants and members of the Osteoporosis Interest Group will be inspired to do what they can to help by what we have heard today".

List of participants (PDF, 26 KB)

Note: apologies were received from EP Osteoporosis Interest Group members who were unable to attend due to group meetings outside of Brussels.

A selection of photos taken at the meeting:

Astrid Lulling MEP

Astrid Lulling MEP

Frederika Brepoels MEP

Frederika Brepoels MEP

Aziza Haas, Health Councellor, Australian Permanent Representation

Aziza Haas, Health Councellor,
Australian Permanent Representation

Magda Canowiecka, Health Councellor, Polish Permanent Representation

Magda Canowiecka, Health Councellor, Polish Permanent Representation

Mariann Skar, European Commission, Public Health

Mariann Skar, European Commission, Public Health

Eva Anna Ampelas, Health Councellor, Swedish Permanent Representation

Eva Anna Ampelas, Health Councellor, Swedish Permanent Representation

Dr. Alain Vanvossel, European Commission, Research

Dr. Alain Vanvossel, European Commission, Research

 
Group Photo 1 Group Photo 2

European Parliament Osteoporosis Interest Group

For further images and high resolution copies, please contact lmisteli@osteofound.org

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