The ESC CardioPolicy Group: Prioritising CVD with national action plans
26 Aug 2023
Earlier this year, the ESC launched its CardioPolicy Group, whose aim is to restore or create national plans on CV health to re-ignite CVD as a key public health priority. ESC Advocacy Committee Co-Chair, Professor Francesco Cosentino (Karolinska University Hospital - Stockholm, Sweden), explains why the new group is necessary and the key ways it is stimulating action:
“The rate of decline in CVD mortality is tapering. Indeed, some countries are seeing an increase in premature CVD death. Our efforts to tackle CVD are being severely hampered and one of the main reasons is a lack of investment. Europe’s ‘Beating Cancer Plan’ is associated with considerable financial backing but CVD – the biggest killer and burden globally – remains under-recognised. All the funding needed for research and improving treatment is downstream of policy, so it is here that the new group is focusing its attention.
Our main goal is to help countries restore or create national action plans to ensure that CV health receives policy prioritisation that is proportional to the current CVD burden – we ask for no more, but believe our patients deserve no less. For the first time, the upcoming Presidencies of the European Council have put CVD on their list of priorities and the CardioPolicy Group – composed of representatives from 47 National Cardiac Societies (NCS) – wants to ensure there is increased momentum, beginning at a national level.
Communication is the first step. Spain issued its much-acclaimed national strategy fully focused on CV health in 2022 and has since shared best practices. Such demonstrations of success show others that it is possible to engage politicians and influence policy with dedicated plans. Other countries have followed in their footsteps: Poland, Czech Republic, Croatia, Germany and Romania have either launched or are working towards launching CV health plans with their governments. One of the roles of the group is to communicate lessons learned and transform these individual ripples into a European-wide wave.
Another important action for the CardioPolicy Group is providing solutions. NCS members are already well aware of the burden of CVD and the need for an action plan, but time constraints, other responsibilities and a lack of expertise in this area can be a stumbling block. The CardioPolicy Group aims to provide NCS with the direct means and support to take action, guiding them through what needs to be done, who to engage and how to get their message across to politicians.
The long-term aim of the group is to bring about sustainable funding for research, infrastructure and healthcare workers involved in CV health. However, creating a healthier future by promoting CV health policy is something that even individual cardiology healthcare professionals can influence, for example, by writing to your local politicians. We can all help push policymakers to prioritise CV health higher in political agendas by joining forces and working together.”