The health system burden of RSV in Europe

19 April 2022

Our white paper presents the study findings on the burden of paediatric RSV in hospitals (paediatric general wards and paediatric intensive care units) and the community (primary and emergency care), and the impact of RSV-infection on health systems performance and healthcare resource use over the last three RSV seasons (2018/19, 2019/20, 2020/21). Our study is based on a survey we conducted among 374 HCPs (physicians in hospitals and the community, nurses, and allied healthcare professionals) in 20 European countries, from August 2021 to January 2022.

What is RSV and how does it affect us?

RSV is an urgent and immediate threat to all infants and a significant burden to health systems. Nearly every child is infected by RSV by the age of 2. Globally, RSV is responsible for 33 million cases annually. It accounts for 63% of acute respiratory tract infections in infants and is the most common cause of bronchiolitis and pneumonia in infants. RSV is also a leading cause of hospitalisations for infants in their first year of life, and responsible for a significant outpatient burden. Despite these concerning statistics, RSV is chronically underreported, and its burden is widely underappreciated.

The public health impact of RSV

The seasonality of RSV is a strong factor impacting on optimal health system performance. The peak rise in RSV infections and hospitalisation occurs between October to March in Europe. This results in acute pressure on primary care providers, emergency services, and paediatric hospital capacity. RSV burden is strongly felt as there is no active treatment for the infection. RSV-related disease management is limited to symptomatic relief. No preventive option is available yet, for all infants. This is an unmet medical need.

Our survey

We performed a cross-sectional survey on 374 healthcare professionals (HCPs) in paediatric hospitals and the community, across 20 countries in Europe. The results confirm the burden of paediatric RSV is significant and system-wide and affects all care settings. 89% of survey respondents consider RSV’s disruptive effects is moderate to extreme. Seasonal outbreaks of RSV and the resultant increased demand for healthcare services lowers levels of patient safety, leads to deteriorated work conditions for healthcare providers, and significant delays and disruptions to care delivery. HCPs across all care-settings ranked increased workload and high levels of stress and exhaustion, as the foremost impacts of the RSV-associated health system burden. Most infants are not optimally managed and routinely undergo unnecessary investigations and receive treatments (e.g., antibiotics) of doubtful efficacy for RSV infection. This is an avoidable and unnecessary public health burden.



Following a careful assessment of the burden, impact, and disruption of paediatric RSV infections on health systems in Europe, our White Paper presents five evidence-supported, actionable recommendations geared towards building better RSV-resilient and RSV-prepared health systems:

  • Broaden the understanding of RSV among caregivers, communities, and clinicians.
  • Maintain infection control measures.
  • Improve and expand diagnostic capability.
  • Standardise the management of RSV infection.
  • Prepare for access to immunisation.
Download the White Paper

This paper is sponsored by Sanofi.


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