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MEPs voice concern over cuts to lung health budget

MEP Lung Health Group Event - #KeepBreathing: A vision for EU action on lung health 2024-2029

On 21 February I moderated the online launch of the #KeepBreathing Campaign which seeks to raise awareness about lung health in Europe.  1 in 8 deaths are caused by respiratory diseases in the EU and the societal cost of lung health in the EU is 422 billion Euro annually.


The event was intended to raise the profile of respiratory diseases in the run up to the European elections. However a few weeks before the launch, the European Commission announced its plan to divert €1bn from Europe's largest health programme EU4 Health. MEPs taking part in the webinar voiced their concern:


MEP Tomislav Sokol, co-chair of the MEP Lung Health Group said: “This is a major problem. We have to fight to get this funding back as soon as possible. What we had in terms of budget cuts is a 20% decrease in EU4Health programmes...not to mention the fact that only really a small percentage is dedicated to lung cancer and other lung diseases.”


MEP Radka Maxová said: “We try to change [the] mind of the European Commission to take so much money from the budget, but if we don’t win this fight, then I would like to say that [the cuts] should be divided the same way for all sectors in healthcare. What is crucial is having resilient health care systems to address inequalities in the European Union, and to face current and health future challenges.”


MEP Stelios Kympouropoulos said: “We need to stand up and make the discussions in order to see especially in the next mandate how we can not only increase [the budget dedicated to lung health] to 20% but further to see results in the area of research and innovation. Also, an overall strategy to address lung health at European level has to be prioritised.”


The webinar was held to promote the new publication of “#KeepBreathing: A vision for EU action on lung health 2024-2029” which  lays out an action plan to improve lung health across three areas – prevention, care and research – for a healthier, stronger and more resilient society in Europe.


Marcia Podestà, EFA President, said: “Patients with respiratory disease witness a clear mismatch between the importance of preserving lung health and the cuts on the budget to achieve the European Health Union. The resources are far from reaching the ambition. Lung health, in the three key areas of prevention, care and research, requires attention and investment.”


Dr Eva Polverino, ERS Director of Scientific Relations with the EU, presented the latest statistics on lung health in Europe. She said: “The respiratory health burden in Europe is larger than ever and it is expected to increase with the ageing of the population and the effects of climate change on health. It does not make sense to reduce spending for lung health at EU level in key areas.”


While the COVID-19 pandemic has pushed the EU and the Member States towards more coordinated action on health, campaigners say the approach to lung health is still very fragmented.




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