The meeting of 12 April 2011 was hosted and chaired by MEP Marian Harkin, Ireland.
Mr Jorge Pinto Antunes, Unit Strategy and Analysis, presented the position of EU Commission/DG SANCO; Dr Ton Nicolai, President ECH, and Seamus Connolly, President EFCAM, presented the position of all European umbrella organizations of patients, doctors and practitioners, closely collaborating in EUROCAM. EUROCAM provided for the participants of the meeting and for the MEPs a general background paper about CAM and healthy ageing for the participants of the meeting and for the MEPs.
In her introduction, MEP Marian Harkin pointed to the fact that “Healthy Ageing” is the flagship topic of the EU health policy in 2011. She underlined that CAM modalities with their holistic and integrative approaches to health care have much to offer for a healthy ageing policy in the EU and expressed the wish that these approaches will be taken up in the framework of the European Healthy Ageing Innovation Partnership (EHAIP). The target of the meeting was to make decision makers in the EU Parliament and other EU institutions aware about the added value of CAM to Healthy Ageing.
Mr Pinto Antunes gave an overview of EU health policy in general and the aims and priorities of EU 2020 as well as the EHAIP. He explained the framework of the EHAIP and the Steering Group set up to lead the partnership, and invited CAM Stakeholders to contact the Steering Group and to participate with concrete projects in the partnership.
In his presentation Dr Ton Nicolai outlined the differences between the conventional and holistic models of health and disease, the use of CAM by the population, the evidence for the effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of CAM, the benefits of CAM, especially for chronic disease management and disease prevention in the ageing population. He emphasized the importance of focusing on supporting peoples’ resources and capacity to create and maintain health rather than only focusing on risks, ill health, and disease.
Mr Seamus Connolly emphasized the importance of maintaining health and treating illness in an individualized way where the focus is on salutogenesis – i.e. factors that support human health and wellbeing –, and sustainable safe treatment of illness. He explained that CAM supports healthy ageing by motivating healthy lifestyle change, improving health literacy, offering less invasive, safer and less costly treatments for chronic illness and a cohort of health professionals who can deliver such benefits.
The discussion started with questions seeking information about the EU health policy and the Healthy Ageing Innovation Partnership as well as general questions about CAM approaches to health and healing.
In a general exchange of views on how to better integrate CAM into the public health policies at the EU and the national level, it was pointed out that advocacy for CAM at the EU level has to be intensified and the understanding of CAM and its added value for public health has to be developed step by step. The chaotic legal situation for the practice of CAM and availability of CAM medicinal products in the EU member states was mentioned. Participants pointed as well to the unsatisfactory legal situation of the herbal medicinal products in the EU and the new policy in the UK taken as an example of a way forward.
Presentations and documents avalable for downloading:
- European Innovation Partnership on Active and Healthy Ageing
Mr Jorge Pinto Antunes, Strategy and Analysis Unit DG SANCO, European Commission.
- Chronic disease: prevention and management - the potential contribution of CAM in Healthy Ageing
Dr Ton Nicolai, ECH President, on behalf of EUROCAM.
- The Role of Complementary and Alternative Medicine: CAM in Healthy Ageing.
Mr Seamus Connolly, EFCAM President, on behalf of EUROCAM.
- Background document.