First European Alliance for Personalised Medicine Congress, Belfast, UKЖасмина Коева
It was a hugely successful inaugural Congress in Belfast from 27th till 30th of November in “Waterfront”, Belfast, UK. The Alliance is delighted to announce that more than 650 delegates were present over the four days in the Northern Ireland capital, with 250 speakers across the week, 200 abstracts on show, 1000 tweets sent out live.
BAPPM was represented by its’ Chair of the Board – Dr. Jasmina Koeva-Balabanova, who spoke on the topic „Personalized Medicine and Cancer in Bulgaria” and Prof. Dr. Draga Toncheva – President of „Bulgarian Society of Human Genetics and Genomics“, and member of the Board of BAPPM.
A key focus of Congress was integrating personalized medicine into Europe’s healthcare systems, and discussions in Belfast will steer some of the major policy asks that EAPM were given during the sessions.
The Alliance activities going to 2018 will reflect this as these asks provide the context in respect of forming a common approach both at the EU and national level.
Vytenis Andriukaitis, Commissioner for Health and Food Safety, has noted that: “Spending only 3% of our health budgets on prevention, compared with 80% on the treatment of diseases, is simply not enough”.
“We need better access to primary care so that the emergency room isn’t people’s first port of call. And we need to ensure health promotion and disease prevention into all policy sectors to improve people’s health and reduce pressure on health systems.
In general the profiles done by the EC, of member-states healthcare, found:
l Aside from the unbalanced investments in prevention, social inequalities need to be tackled, such as differences in cancer screening or physical activity between people with higher and lower
income and education.
l Some 27% of patients visit an emergency department because of inadequate primary care. Only 14 EU countries require primary care referral for consulting a specialist; nine other countries have financial incentives for referrals.
l In nearly all EU countries care is fragmented and patients have to search their way through a maze of care facilities.
l Health authorities need to prepare their workforce for upcoming changes: an ageing population and multi-morbidity, the need for sound recruitment policies, new skills, and technical innovation.
l Patients should be at the centre of the next generation of better health data for policy and practice.
Awarding excellence in personalised healthcare
Other highlights at the Belfast Congress included our awards ceremonies. The Monday evening saw two winners pick up prizes at a welcome reception in Belfast City Hall. The EAPM SMART Award (Smaller Member states And Regions Together) went to Malta, whilethe Patient-centric Innovator Award went to AstraZeneca. Christopher Fearne, Malta’s Deputy Prime Minister, picked up the SMART Award while David Boyd received the AstraZeneca prize from Stephen McMahon, president of the Irish Patient Association. Before handing over the award, McMahon describedthe EAPM Congress as “a cornerstone event for personalised medicine in Europe”.
The following evening saw the first HI-5 awards given out in the splendid surroundings of Titanic Belfast.
The term ‘HI-5’ represents the health innovation five, and the awards were given in these EU-based categories:
- l Region that has done the most to support innovation
- l Best research centre for innovation
- l Best hospital for integrating personalised cancer medicine
- l Company which has done most to promote personalised healthcare
- l Best minister/politician supporting health innovation in personalised medicine
The first award went to Regione Lombardia, home of the Italian city of Milan, with the Institut Gustave Roussy in Villejuif, France, landing the EU-based research centre for innovation prize.
The honoured hospital was Vall dґHebron Institute of Oncology in Barcelona, while pharmaceutical giant Roche won the best company to promote personalised healthcare award. No individual won the political award. Instead, it went to a group of MEPs in recognition of their work done in promoting access to personalised medicine, collected on their behalf by Mary Baker, a past president of the European Brain Council. Judge Fidelma Macken, a former judge of the Supreme Court of Ireland and European Court of Justice, gave the keynote speech, while the evening was presided over by Denis and Gordon McVie, who is co-chair of EAPM. The awards were presented by Gordon, Richard Sullivan, of King’s College London, James N’Dow, from the Guidelines Office Board at the European Association of Urology, and Mary Baker.
EAPM annual general meeting
During Congress the Alliance held its Annual General Meeting in the boardroom at the Waterfront venue.Joining the board is Dr. Jasmina Koeva-Balabanova, founder and chair of the Bulgarian Alliance for Precision and Personalized Medicine (BAPPM). The meeting also confirmed the venue and dates of the second EAPM annual Congress (see below). In the interim, the Alliance will place a key focus on prevention, screening and early diagnosis, while continuing its SMART Outreach programme to take in the cities of Berlin, Paris and Vienna among others.
Coming up in 2018
EAPM has several key events and programmes planned for next year and hopes to have the ongoing support from our members, partners and sponsors.
Plans for EAPM’s sixth annual Presidency conference are already in place for 27-28 March 2018. The ‘Personalised Medicine and the Big Data Challenge’ event will be held under the Bulgarian Presidency of the EU. Taking place close to the Brussels seat of the European Parliament, the conference will feature plenary sessions in the afternoon of Day One, followed by a dinner in the parliament that evening and a day-long event on Day Two.