The EUREGHA high-level conference took place on 11 December on the theme “Linking Chronic Disaeses and Frailty: Creating Synergies and Collaboration Between Efficient Policies for Disease Prevention and Management at European and Subnational Level”.

Mr Xavier Pratts Monné, Director General of DG SANTE, gave an opening key note speech, which was followed by a presentation from Jan De Maeseneer (Chair of the European Commission Expert Group on Effective Ways of Investing in Health). Josep Redón, Scientific Director of INCLIVA Health Research Institute in Valencia, gave a presentation from a medical/research perspective explaining the links between frailty, chronic diseases and ageing.

These speeches were followed by two interactive panels. The first one focused on creating synergies between European tools addressing chronic diseases and frailty inviting representatives from European initiatives on chronic diseases and frailty: the Joint Action on Chronic Diseases (JA CHRODIS), Mr Carlos Segovia, the upcoming Joint Action on Prevention of Frailty, Ms Inés García-Sánchez and the Action Groups on frailty and integrated care of the European Innovation Partnership on Active and Healthy Ageing (EIP-AHA), Ms Maddalena Illario and Ms Stella Tsartsara respectively. The session was moderated by Prof Jan de Maeseneer.

The second panel included best practices from local and regional health authorities: Mirca Barbolini, Governance of Research Unit, Regional Agency for Health and Social Affairs, Emilia Romagna (IT), Anne Hendry, National and Clinical Lead for Integrated Care, Scotland (UK), Dave Horsfield, NHS Liverpool Clinical Commissioning Group, Liverpool (UK) and Maddalena Illario from Progetto Mattone Internazionale.

The half-day event covered many important aspects of the links between chronic diseases, frailty and ageing as well as existing and potential synergies between policy responses at European and subnational levels.

Some issues raised during the conference were:

       European health systems were created to deal with acute health problems. A paradigm shift is needed to accommodate the changing demands for healthcare in our societies. These changes require an encompassing and holistic view, involving all actors and stakeholders in a common framework, creating synergies between providers and avoiding goal conflicts.

        Frailty is not a disease, but a condition on a continuum that may be reversible. While medically interlinked with the development and aggravation of some chronic diseases, policy response is somewhat different. Social care and especially Long Term Care (LTC) is crucial in this respect. Moreover, it is essential to reach a common definition of the frailty condition. This is one of the objectives of the upcoming Joint Action on Prevention of Frailty.

       The sharing of good practices and mutual learning in the prevention and management of chronic diseases is essential. The issue is not about just duplicating work, but to take home relevant aspects and lessons learned and contextualise it to the own framework. It is important to make sure that criteria for best practices with potential to scale up are clear and evidence-based. This is one of the aims of the Joint Action CHRODIS, the biggest Joint Action to date. CHRODIS aims at identifying, exchanging and disseminating good practices on chronic conditions across the EU and to facilitate their transfer and uptake at local, regional and national level.

The full conference report is available here. To access all conference presentations, please refer here.