Around 80 multi-disciplinary top experts from across eight European countries have signed a Charter for Optimal Nutritional Care to commit to end disease-related malnutrition and provide optimal nutritional care for patients in all healthcare settings, including hospitals, care homes and in home care.
Date: 12 November 2014
BRUSSELS, 6 November 2014 – On 4-5 November, participants from across eight countries (Croatia, Germany, Spain, Turkey, France, Israel, Poland and Slovenia) gathered for a working conference in Brussels to launch a European campaign on Optimal Nutritional Care for All. Organised by the European Nutrition for Health Alliance (ENHA), the conference brought together delegates from national medical societies for clinical nutrition and metabolism, patient groups, healthcare professionals, dietitians, policy makers, hospital managers, carers, industry and advocacy experts. Over the course of two days, delegates from the different disciplines were asked to define national priorities and contribute to enhancing a European-wide approach through exchange of good practices.
With disease-related malnutrition estimated to cost European healthcare systems as much as €170 billion each year, there is an urgent need for action. An estimated 33 million patients are at nutritional risk and many of these are not identified and suffer from a lack of appropriate nutritional care.
"The economic crisis has meant that public spending on healthcare is increasingly tight. These pressurised resources mean that choices have to be made and unfortunately nutritional care is often neglected," said Professor Anne de Looy, Honorary President of the European Federation of the Association of Dietitians (EFAD).
In addition to working sessions to create national nutritional care plans, the conference featured guest speakers from WHO Europe, the European Commission and the European Patient's Forum (EPF), who provided both inspiration and guidance around implementing campaign objectives at national level.
“Over the years of advocating on the issue of malnutrition, we’ve learnt that working across multi-disciplinary teams is the best way we’ll be able to turn the vision of optimal nutritional care for all patients into a reality,” explained Professor Olle Ljungqvist, Co-chair ENHA.
Delegates acknowledged the crucial role that patient groups can play in helping to ensure the better delivery of nutritional care and called for help from ENHA and EPF/EGAN to facilitate the building of these relationships. “Patients can have very specific nutritional needs, particularly when chronic diseases are involved. Empowering patients will enable professionals to better identify and address these needs,” said Nicola Bedlington, EPF Secretary-General. There was also wide consensus that getting support from policy makers will be an essential step in the campaign.
Although ENHA has been working since 2005 to raise awareness of disease-related malnutrition at EU level and with selected countries, last week’s conference heralded a new phase in these efforts. At the end of the event, participants signed the Charter for Optimal Nutritional Care, a document which invites individuals to commit to a shared vision for improving nutritional care. The Charter calls for identification of those at nutritional risk through screening, following by appropriate nutritional intervention and monitoring, making nutritional care an integral part of patient care.
ENHA is a multi-stakeholder platform at European level that promotes implementation of nutrition risk screening across Europe, public awareness, partnership working, policy development and health education and training. ENHA is co-chaired by Professor Olle Ljungqvist, representing the European Society for Clinical Nutrition and Metabolism (ESPEN) and Professor Jean-Pierre Baeyens, representing the European Union Geriatric Medicine Society (EUGMS) and the International Association of Gerontology and Geriatrics for the European region (IAGG). ENHA is a charity and has a board of trustees who are responsible for decision making.
For the Optimal Nutritional Care for All initiative, ENHA has appointed a Steering Committee from its membership to lead the campaign through strategic guidance and engagement with partners at national level. The Steering Committee is made up of representatives from the European Society for Clinical Nutrition and Metabolism (ESPEN), European Union Geriatric Medicine Society (EUGMS), Pharmaceutical Group of the European Union (PGEU), European Hospital and Healthcare Federation (HOPE), European Federation of the Association of Dietitians (EFAD), European Patients’ Forum/Patients Network for Medical Research and Health (EPF/EGAN) and Medical Nutrition International Industry (MNI). More information about ENHA can be found on www.european-nutrition.org.
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