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 (2010 - 2013) has been developed to address this. A successful bid was made to the European Union Health Programme and was supported by the European Commission, EULAR and professional scientific and patient organisations in 22 centres across Europe. The project aimed to raise and harmonise quality of care and enable equity of care of RMDs across EU Member States. To this end, eumusc.net developed standards of care of main RMDs as well as methods and tools that will allow Member States to measure the burden of RMDs in their own country as well as the quality of care that people with RMDs receive.
More information can be found in the summary report of the October 2013 conference, held in Brussels.