European Association for the Study of Obesity Stakeholder Statement on Short-term EU health preparedness for COVID-19 outbreaks
The European Commission and the ECDC (European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control) launched a joint plan of action on Short-term EU health preparedness for COVID-19 outbreaks yesterday with immediate effect. Notably, for the first time, people with obesity have been formally listed as part of the category of medically vulnerable groups “with underlying health conditions (e.g. hypertension, diabetes, obesity, etc.)”
EASO very much welcomes this decisive move at a time when all areas of health systems have been significantly overburdened and as a result people living with obesity and the related prevention and treatment services have been deprioritised and scarce. As we write in the recently published EASO EU Policy Position Statement on obesity in the context of COVID-19 and building more resilient health systems in the future, emerging data suggests that adults with obesity may be at risk for a more serious and complicated course of COVID-19, the severity of the disease being exacerbated by biological and social factors associated with obesity.
Such a categorisation is a first major step in aligning scientific evidence with policy making at EU, national and regional levels. There is now an imperative to include considerations on how to ensure the needs of people and systems dealing with obesity as a chronic disease can be tangibly met in the
- Design and implement specific high density, low threshold testing strategies for vulnerable groups & settings (Member States and ECDC)
- Sharing best practices in supporting COVID-19 prevention, testing and care in socially and marginalised groups and medically vulnerable groups and settings (European Commission & ECDC)
- Sharing of best practices and provision of mental health and psychosocial support to vulnerable prone to COVID-19 (European Commission and Member States)
- Provision of specific online trainings to frontline staff working with vulnerable groups (ECDC)
However, there are also broader considerations to ensure that vulnerable groups, especially those living with differing severity of obesity can indeed receive the necessary care, treatments, medicines and vaccines as appropriate. We have set these out in the recently published EASO EU Policy Position Statement on obesity in the context of COVID-19 and building more resilient health systems in the future.
We are hopeful that as part of the next phases of the “new reality” (EU4Health Programme and Horizon Europe) obesity as a chronic relapsing disease will continue to be prioritised in its own right as well as a gateway disease to other major non-communicable chronic diseases such as diabetes (80% of T2D) and 20% of cancers. Furthermore, we welcome this opportunity to start charting workable solutions which can be leveraged for longer term planning as part of the “One Health Approach”.
EASO represents the multidisciplinary voice of obesity in 36 countries across Europe and the European Coalition of People living with Obesity (ECPO). Our scientific and medical community, which published this scientific statement on obesity and COVID-19 in Obesity Facts Obesity and COVID-19: The Two Sides of the Coin”
https://www.karger.com/Article/FullText/510005 EASO is ready, willing and able to collaborate to see tangible results in partnership with the European Commission, ECDC and Member States.