EHMA @ What place for chronic diseases in the EU agenda post 2019?

16 May 2018

by Giulia Zaniboni and Anna Steinebach

On the 16th of May 2019, the Conference ‘Towards the Sustainable Development Goals: What place for chronic diseases in the EU agenda post 2019’ took place at the European Parliament. The Conference was organised by the European Chronic Disease Alliance (ECDA). The aim of ECDA is to reverse the alarming rise in chronic diseases by providing leadership and policy recommendations based on contemporary evidence.

Today, chronic-non-communicable diseases account for 86% of deaths in the WHO European Region. Major chronic diseases are: cancer, cardiovascular disease, respiratory disease, diabetes, allergies, hypertension, kidney and liver disease. Most of them are influenced by low air quality and pollution, salt and alcohol intake and are preventable.

The meeting featured several high-level experts, including Martin Seychell – Deputy Director for Health, DG SANTE ,  Marion Devaux – OECD, Francois Wakenhut – Head of Unit “Clean air” – DG Environment, MEP Daciana Octavia Sârbu, MEP Aloiz Peterle, and the Chairman of ECDA, Prof Raymond Vanholder.

The opening speech was given by MEP Daciana Sârbu, who pointed out the importance of prevention in chronic disease management and the necessity to put health higher on the EU agenda. Prof Raymon Vanholder highlighted that chronic disease are not only a health issue but also a major economic burden that deserves more attention –  most people face multiple chronic diseases, which also result in the inability to work and a reduction of purchasing power.

The conference was followed by a video presentation of Dr. Gregor Smith from Scotland, who explained the recent legal regulation on increasing tax prices of alcohol products. The given example showed the effectiveness of political actions and gives other EU Member States the possibility to learn from best practices.

Following the introduction, the manifesto Europe’s health deserves the EU’s attention: Investing in chronic disease prevention and management was presented. The manifesto revolves around four key points:

  1. A structured EU framework on chronic diseases
  2. A European Chronic Disease Awareness Day
  3. A meaningful, ambitious Sixth Reflection Paper “Towards a Sustainable Europe by 2030”
  4. Targeted funding and investment to address chronic diseases

The presentation led to a panel discussion moderated by Catherine Hartmann and centred on the necessity of cost-effective, sustainable and affordable solutions.

The issue of social inequalities, brought to the discussion by Marion Devaux – OECD, is strongly influencing all chronic disease. Inequalities have to be reduced through better education and information, increasing physical activities, taxation on less healthy choices and most importantly – the combination of several policies together. Another important point of debate was the issue of scaling up and the implementation of good and best practices. Martin Seychell – European Commission, claimed that often there is good intervention towards a healthy lifestyle and the reduction of chronic diseases, but it is done at a local level and has to be transferred to a European setting. Furthermore, the knowledge and scientific based data is available but not adequately transferred to policymaking.


In the end, the experts agreed on the importance of political will to change the agenda setting towards higher awareness about chronic diseases at all level, also highlighting how essential are public private partnerships and multi-stakeholder dialogue.


Useful links:



Recent News

What our Members say

I have been active in EHMA since the first years of the '90s and I have seen its evolution from a small association of members interested in sharing knowledge on health management practices to the current status of reference and advisory key player for EU, health systems and organisations, stakeholders associations, industry and universities. EHMA is now a unique knowledge hub, policy advisor, community of practice and network of best in class organisations involved in health policy and management. A place where health managers can build their competences, policy-makers and stakeholder associations envision how to implement and sustain change through health management, industry leaders understand how to engage more effectively with health organisations and systems. The right place to nurture and grow health management capabilities and capacity for every stakeholder of health systems.

Prof. Federico Lega, University of Milan, Italy

Health management has a crucial function in shaping public health and health system challenges. The Medical University of Varna, Bulgaria had success in collaborating with EHMA on EU-funded projects that has resourced us to create new health management competencies for the future workforce. In addition to all classical definitions, health management is a science dealing with individuals, groups, and society at large. It is an art contributing to the beauty of our lives and an interactive communication process at all levels of institutions and human energy. I have also had the pleasure to chair the South Eastern European Special Interest Group which gives members a space to discuss and tools to address how health systems are managed in our regions.

Prof. Todorka Kostadinova, Medical University of Varna, Bulgaria

I enjoy the high level of interaction and engagement in EHMA’s activities, in particular during the annual conference where the panel discussions are rich and well prepared. As a hospital manager and professor of health management, EHMA motivates and inspires me to be creative. You go back home feeling energised from seeing old friends and making new connections, as well as being convinced of serving as EHMA’s ambassador. It’s a strong feeling of interdisciplinary engagement, but it also feels like being part of family-like community.

Prof. Sandra C. Buttigieg, University of Malta, Malta

EHMA is a pre-eminent organisation for everyone working in planning, managing and delivering health services across Europe. As a long standing member of EHMA I have always been impressed by the vibrant community of managers, researchers and academics it has created and by the many opportunities for sharing knowledge and funding opportunities it has brought to its members. Its international scope is impressive and its impact is often felt in management and research across European and national health systems.

Prof. Axel Kaehne, Edge Hill University, UK

Health workforce has become more essential in operating, managing and maintaining health systems lately, particularly in crisis and emergency situations. European healthcare professions and the workforce need to be high on the agenda of managers and decision makers. The Health Services Management Training Centre, Semmelweis University in Hungary is a longstanding EHMA member, because it connects us with collaborators and experts, with whom we can have complex debates, from whom we can learn and at the end find solutions in various challenging fields of healthcare management.

Dr Eszter Kovács, Health Services Management Training Centre, Semmelweis University, Hungary

As a hospital administrator and health management professor, I see on a daily basis that the healthcare challenges require talented and skilled managers to transform it. the EHMA membership has been beneficial to bring healthcare management research and education to the demanding healthcare services world, promoting healthcare management competencies and knowledge creation.

Dr Alexandre Lourenco, APAH - Association of Portuguese Hospital Managers, Portugal

Many healthcare systems in Europe and beyond are facing similar challenges which require innovative and creative solutions. EHMA’s annual conference, webinars, Programme Directors’ group and other activities and resources provide incredible opportunities for networking, connecting and sharing experiences. A distinct feature of EHMA is the diversity of members with representation from many countries, sectors and different communities of practice – academic, policy-makers, practitioners, managers, leaders and students. The annual conference is a highlight in the calendar year, offering a friendly, fun and learningful environment for emerging and established members to engage, collaborate and meet up with old and new friends. I am proud to be a member of the EHMA Board.

Prof. Ann Mahon, University of Manchester, UK

Society evolution, pandemics and ageing modify health needs. So, health policies and services are to change dramatically. EHMA, through webinars, workshops and annual conference provides an excellent insight to a professional changing world, favouring closeness to management innovation and the protagonists of these changes. As a primary care services’ manager, participating in EHMA activities is really worth it and allows to involve oneself in the innovation processes.

Dr Antoni Peris Grao, Consorci Castelldefels Agents de Salut (CASAP), Spain