The number of interest groups active in the health domain in Europe has grown considerably in recent years, above all in the field of patients’ associations. It is therefore increasingly hard for the authorities to identify which organisations should be regarded as their contacts. For this reason EFPAM believes that it is important to expand and consolidate the alliances.
EFPAM is therefore a member of EPHA – Europe’s biggest interest group in the health sector and a cofounder of ELIANT – as the largest anthroposophic non-governmental organization in Europe, and is seeking to ally itself with other European associations. Our aim is to help patients’ voices to be better heard in Europe. It is not just the specific problems faced by patients who wish to use anthroposophic medicine which must be considered here, but also the developments in Europe’s health system as a whole. The explosion in costs alone could reduce government funding for medicine, which could put the continued existence of CAM at risk. In the year covered by this report, EFPAM has participated in various committees and meetings such as IKAM, the ELIANT campaign, etc. Collaboration with other organisations such as the IVAA and ECHAMP is excellent. Our links with the European umbrella organisation for homeopathy users was also further cultivated this year.
The ELIANT initiative has increased in importance for EFPAM this year. Many topics have proved to be “cross-sectoral”, for instance child nutrition, educational issues and initiatives for a cleaner environment.
Collaboration with other organisations was strongly supported and facilitated by ECHAMP among others. In 2009, the EFPAM executive council continued work in three areas:
- Collaboration, development of networks, forming alliances
- Monitoring and representation of interests
- The “patient competency” project
It is clear that an internet profile is becoming ever more important, primarily because young people use this medium as their most important source of information. EFPAM and its members are continuing to work on the theme of “patient competency”, which is increasingly proving to be a broad and interesting field of work. Since this concept has existed for a long time now, and is interpreted in different ways by different schools of thought, it is increasingly important that the specific views which arise from the anthroposophic understanding of the human being should inform it from a patient perspective.
These insights could lead to a fundamental change in the relationship between physician and patient. The nature of prevention, the promotion of personal involvement in managing one’s own illness, the increased emphasis on personal responsibility for and involvement in the determination of issues related to one’s own health – which European policies also support – can receive an important stimulus through anthroposophy if we succeed in elaborating these ideas in a way accessible to all.
EFPAM regards the increasing interest in Europe in the theme of “patient rights”, including the citizens’ initiative for the “European Charter of Patients’ Rights” (2002), as a good opportunity more actively to represent the interests of members of anthroposophic patients’ associations. On the one hand, medicine is in danger of becoming ever more uniform, yet individual treatment for each patient is, on the other hand, felt to be indispensable and intrinsically linked with the medicine of the future. In the year under review, the threat regarding the availability of anthroposophic medicines in Europe still unfortunately represented a serious problem. National legislation based on European directives still varies greatly and has created a situation of unnecessary uncertainty amongst patients.
René de Winter is working as coordinator for EFPAM (European Federation of Patients’ Associations for Anthroposophic Medicine). Heidrun Loewer, his deputy until September 2009, has now passed on her task to Hans-Jürgen Schumacher. She deserves warm thanks for her many years of work!