LUPUS EUROPE was present once again at this year’s PARE conference, which was held from 16th-18th February in Brussels. PARE provides an opportunity to meet with other patient organisations who are members of the PARE network, to hear the latest updates on some of the programmes, to influence PARE’s priorities for the next year, and to build on some of our skills.
The conference was opened by Ms. Marianne Thijsen, the EU commissionaire for employment and Social affairs. She highlighted the commission’s progress on defining “European pillars of social rights”, 20 statements that should guide future EU Social policy. Three of those statements are particularly relevant as anchors to our work : (i) Everyone has the right to timely access to affordable, preventive and curative health care of quality; (ii) Access to safe work environment, fit for everyone; (iii) Right to inclusion for people with disabilities (including income support that ensures living in dignity, services that enable to participate in the labour market and in society, and a work environment adapted to their needs).
Another key statement that she made is that while some would like healthcare to be left entirely up to each country, she disagrees: “Arthritis does not know borders. Pain does not ask for your passport. There is a need to tackle health together: We can learn from each other, there should be no 2nd class citizens in Europe”. This is both the recognition of a threat, and a very nice statement on the need for EU health policy.
The conference then mostly evolved around the EULAR campaign “Don’t Delay, Connect Today”. If you are not yet familiar with this European wide campaign, see more on this link and offer your full support to this important initiative. Early diagnosis is a key priority, in Lupus and other RMD’s and can save a lot of personal hardship thanks to early treatment. The delegates very largely voted for a continuation of this campaign for at least another 2 years, so we can reach a maximum number of people.
Finally, a fun souvenir starring our chair, Jeanette Andersen who is reminding us of the importance of exercise.