From Monday, 4 November to Thursday 8 November 2013, the European Parliament in Brussels hosted the first ever Cardiovascular Health Week, a week of awareness-raising activities around the theme "Mind Your Heart - for a Heart Healthy Europe".
The initiative aimed at informing EU policy makers and relevant stakeholders of the reach of cardiovascular diseases (CVD), the n°1 killer in Europe causing 1.9 million deaths in the EU yearly.
In anticipation of the European Parliament elections in 2014, Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) were encouraged to include the fight against CVD as a priority in the political manifestos of their political groups and to make cardiovascular health a priority for their mandate if/when elected.
The raising-awareness initiative was successfully far-reaching. Tangible outcomes include:
EU INSTITUTIONS | Information on the Cardiovascular Health Week was included on the websites of MEPs, of the European Commission and of the Lithuanian Presidency of the EU.
PRESS COVERAGE | Articles were published in two of the main Brussels-based media, EurActiv (675 000 average monthly unique visitors) and the Parliament Magazine (audience of 50 000+), as well as several national media. Scientific publications also widely covered the initiative, including the European Heart Journal (2nd internationally most read journal on cardiovascular medicine).
SOCIAL MEDIA | Over 80 MEPs took part in the activities run within the framework of the Cardiovascular Health Week. Notable participants include, Mr Martin Schulz MEP, current President of the European Parliament (EP) and runner-up for the Presidency of the European Commission, the former EP President, Mr Jerzy Buzek MEP, the current Chair of the EP Health Committee, Mr Matthias Groote MEP, as well as the Committee’s former Chairs, Mr Karl-Heinz Florenz MEP and Mr Miroslav Ouzky MEP. Many actively displayed their engagement on Twitter and Facebook. It is estimated that almost 119 000 people were reached through Twitter only.
The initiative was also and most importantly marked by the unprecedented declaration by the EU Commissioner for Health, Mr Tonio Borg, in favour of raising cardiovascular disease higher on the EU political agenda. He said: “Until now, the general strategy has been to fight the risk factors in general and not a specific disease, but I do not exclude that if the current trends continue, we could have a strategy just for cardiovascular disease.”
Recognizing the importance of advocacy activities Commissioner Borg also stated: “We can't fight cardiovascular diseases only with the academic dimensions or only with members of the academic world or the stakeholders only. We need the support of the citizens themselves. Only with the participation of citizens, would we be able to fight cardiovascular diseases effectively [..]”
Meeting "Investing in Health: Better & Safer Treatments for European Cardiovascular patients": Agenda - Report - Pictures