Most of today's political decisions on healthcare systems are still made at national level in the Member States of the European Union. There is however a steadily increasing number of initiatives coming from the EU level. These initiatives aim at raising standards and improving the quality of health services in the Member States. Governments use the possibilities of the European Union to exchange information and best practices. European reference centers will in the future define guidelines for many sectors. It is likely that new Treaty reforms will lead to increased legislative competencies of the EU in the public health area.
Next to legislation and non-legislative input, the European Union offers also funding opportunities for public health oriented projects. Researchers, patients and health professionals are target groups for these support mechanisms. EULAR has contributed to the shaping of the programme and offers support to project proposals coming from organisations and individuals in the rheumatic and musculoskeletal disease community.
The current Public Health Programme for the period 2008-2013 follows a horizontal approach. Unlike in the past, there are no disease-specific public health funding programmes anymore. It has three key priorities: to improve health information and knowledge, to ensure rapid reaction to health threats, and to address health determinants.
European Musculoskeletal Conditions Surveillance and Information Network
Musculoskeletal conditions have a great impact across EU Member States, can be effectively diagnosed, prevented and treated but this is not happening with equity across Europe. Lack of awareness, knowledge and priority are factors.
The eumusc.net project has been developed to address this. A successful bid was made to the European Union Health Programme and the project was kicked off in Luxembourg at the beginning of March 2010. Eumusc.net is being supported by the European Commission, EULAR and professional scientific and patient organisations in 22 centres across Europe and will last for three years (2010 - 2013). In July 2011 first results were delivered. They consisted of reports on the impact of RMDs on individuals and societies across Europe and reports on standards of care for those diagnosed with Osteoarthritis and Rheumatoid Arthritis. The remaining work packages will be completed by 2013.