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Thursday 3 May 2018

Today, I am delighted to have been asked to launch the European Thrombosis and Haemostasis Alliance, together with my colleague Aldo Patriciello, and the European Thrombosis and Haemostasis Alliance (ETHA) at an event titled  “Tackling Non-Communicable Diseases: EU leadership in thrombosis and haemostasis research”  

The event will address the burden of thrombosis and haemostasis in Europe and the need for greater recognition of medical research in the field of non-communicable diseases, in particular thrombosis, in the upcoming Framework Programme 9.

For almost a year now, I have chaired the European Parliament Working Group on innovation, access to medicines and poverty-related diseases. In this Working Group the focus on health is directed more towards developing countries and the difficulties patients face when trying to access treatment.

As you may already know, 1 in 4 people worldwide die of conditions related to blood clots. Cardiovascular disorders caused by thrombosis cost EU health systems around 1.5 to 2.2 billion EURO per year in direct costs, while indirect costs such as disability and productive life years lost are estimated to be as high as 13.2 billion EURO per year.

We know that in Europe, but not only, there is a rapid increase in chronic diseases coupled by an ageing population, so we are expecting these figures to rise year on year.

The European Commission has already funded a number of research projects on thrombosis and haemostasis, and I am hoping they will do the same with the next round of funding.

Many people are not aware of the signs and symptoms to watch for and so many cases deteriorate unnoticed, leading to preventable premature deaths.

As a politician, I would like to see the Commission taking this matter seriously and directing some of the FP9 funding towards supporting medical research, mission projects and promoting best practices among EU member states.

In order to see real change happening, we need more thorough awareness raising by public health authorities and better education about thrombosis and haemostasis among the general population. We also need to see more consistency when it comes to applying preventative measures, in order to reduce the rates of preventable clots. This is a cross-cutting public health issue which could be tackled from various angles, from physical exercise to diet and more widely available literature.

Finally I would like to make a point about the negative impact Brexit will have on access to health care on the Island of Ireland if cross-border health care is jeopardised in the negotiations.

At the moment, cancer and cardiac care and ENT surgery are among those services now provided on a cross-border basis in certain areas. More specifically, cardiac treatment in Derry is available to patients from Co Donegal and pediatric cardiac surgery services in Dublin are available for children from Northern Ireland.