In Brussels, ESO urges Europe to end the “stroke care lottery”

ESO successfully organized on 10 October 2017 a high-level workshop with EU policy-makers on access to stroke treatment and innovation, the first of its kind, which took place in the European Parliament, in Brussels. The event brought together more than 50 representatives from ESO and the EU institutions, physicians and patients with the aim of discussing how to remove barriers to acute stroke treatment and support EU member states in translating best practices in stroke management into real life. The event was hosted by Member of the European Parliament Aldo Patriciello and moderated by ESO President Prof. Valeria Caso.

Stroke is the second most common cause of death in Europe, accounting for over 1 million lives lost each year. During the event, European stroke experts and patients called on political leaders to recognise stroke as an EU-wide health priority, develop acute stroke systems of care strategies, and end inequalities in access to the current stroke management standards.

The adoption of new clot removal technologies (mechanical thrombectomy) can greatly improve stroke survival rates and outcomes for victims of stroke and alleviate the societal impact. Through this event, ESO raised awareness of technological advances in endovascular treatment and their benefits. Prof. Valeria Caso said:We have an opportunity to restructure the pathway for acute stroke and enhance endovascular treatment. It’s a revolution…Don’t forget stroke has significant economic and social implications on survivors, families of stroke victims, and society as a whole.”

The ESO Secretary General Prof. Urs Fischer presented initial results from a new survey carried out together with ESMINT, EAN and SAFE, which reveals that many patients throughout Europe do not yet have equal access to this highly effective therapy. This partly explains the large disparities among member states regarding stroke survival and remission rates. “There are huge inequalities with regard to stroke treatment. All stakeholders across the stroke care chain need to work together to address them. Governments should be aware of just how cost-effective it is to treat stroke more effectively and efficiently”, said Prof. Urs Fischer.

Keynote speakers shed light onto national experiences in the organisation of the stroke care pathway, in the UK, Switzerland, Estonia, and Italy. Their presentations were followed by the powerful testimonies of two patients.

As a conclusion, Aldo Patriciello MEP stressed the need to take down the barriers to quality stroke care across countries, saying: “Stroke is a major, pan European, public health concern. We are discussing concrete options to ensure equal access across Europe to quality healthcare. If we improve exchange of best practices, cross-border cooperation and capacity building we can end this stroke care lottery.”

The event also marked the launch of ESO’s new Call to Action, which includes five recommendations to EU and national policy-makers:

  1. Raise awareness of stroke and innovative stroke treatments
  2. Promote equity of access to innovative stroke treatments
  3. Encourage and facilitate exchange of best practices
  4. Train neurointerventionalists
  5. Support the development and implementation of stroke management strategies.

Please see the article by Neuronews International, based on ESO’s press release.