With European elections coming up in May 2019, you probably want to know how the European Union impacts your daily life, before you think about voting. In the latest in a series of posts on what Europe does for you, your family, your business and your wellbeing, we look at what Europe does for people with Alzheimer’s.
Alzheimer’s is a degenerative brain disease often associated with old age. According to estimates, it affects more than 50 % of the EU’s dementia patients. As the disease puts a strain on both sufferers and carers, action centres on quality of life, early diagnosis and prevention.
National governments are responsible for healthcare policy while the EU’s role is mainly one of coordination and support. The EU has nevertheless long been committed to combatting Alzheimer’s and reducing its high social and economic cost. In 2009, the European Commission produced a paper on a European Alzheimer’s initiative, with four objectives, promoting early diagnosis, better understanding and research coordination, best practice, and respect for patients’ rights. It also launched joint action between EU countries to boost knowledge of dementia and its consequences, and care for sufferers. In 2016, an additional measure focused on post diagnostic support, crisis and care coordination, quality of residential care, and dementia-friendly communities.
The Innovative Medicines Initiative, a public-private partnership between the EU and the pharmaceutical industry, has co-funded projects to research the causes of Alzheimer’s, create a European medical information framework and a new approach to clinical trials, improve the development of treatment and uncover the causes of social withdrawal. Future projects include research on inflammation and Alzheimer’s, and patient engagement. Moreover, the EU’s Joint Research Centre has helped develop new scientific standards to help early diagnosis.
- EPRS briefing Need for action on dementia recalled, http://www.europarl.europa.eu/thinktank/en/document.html?reference=EPRS_BRI(2016)577959
- EU initiatives on Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias, http://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/EN/TXT/?uri=LEGISSUM:sp0014
- European Commission report on dementia, European Commission, https://ec.europa.eu/health/sites/health/files/interest_groups/docs/ev_20150319_co04_en.pdf