MEP Friends of the Liver Group
Why do we need an interest group for liver health at the European Parliament?
Liver disease is now the leading cause of years of working life lost in Europe, after ischaemic heart disease. Liver diseases are generally avoidable or treatable if measures for prevention and early detection are properly implemented; achieving this would reduce premature morbidity and mortality, saving the lives of almost 300,000 people across Europe each year.
EASL, the foremost learned society on liver disease in Europe, is coordinating this interest group to raise awareness, put liver health higher on the political agenda, and make policy recommendations.
The EASL–Lancet Liver Commission report (published end-2021), “Protecting the next generation of Europeans against liver disease complications and premature mortality”, calls for a paradigm shift in the response to liver disease in Europe: prevention and early detection, rather than end-stage treatment of complications. To this end, the MEP Friends of the Liver Group will provide support, aiming to ensure that all liver diseases get the political attention they deserve.
Areas of action and objectives
- Liver cancer: prevention, early detection, and care
Liver cancer is the sixth most common cancer and third most frequently related cause of death globally. Currently, liver cancer is diagnosed extremely late. Approximately 87,000 people living in Europe were diagnosed with liver cancer in 2020, of which 78,000 have since died. Yet, if individuals are diagnosed early enough, treatments do exist.
- Reducing harmful alcohol consumption and promoting healthy diet
Europe has the highest level of alcohol consumption in the world, which together with ultra-processed food consumption and a high prevalence of obesity, are the major drivers of liver-related morbidity and mortality.
- Addressing non-alcohol related fatty liver disease (NAFLD)
Non-alcohol related fatty liver disease (NAFLD) is a major health burden, affecting as much as a quarter of the global population. A national strategy for NAFLD is lacking in almost every country in the world. Furthermore, NAFLD is explicitly mentioned in very few national strategies or clinical guidelines for related conditions, such as obesity or diabetes.
- Eliminating Viral Hepatitis
Infections with hepatitis B and Hepatitis C viruses and cirrhosis are the main risk factors for developing liver cancer. A scarcity of consistent and efficient screening and vaccination programmes for viral hepatitis, combined with the high costs of drugs due to variable European reimbursement systems, result in reduced access to treatment and delays in elimination programmes.
- Fighting stigma
Stigma has a major impact on liver diseases in Europe, leading to discrimination, reduction in healthcare-seeking behaviour, and reduced allocation of resources, which all results in poor clinical outcomes. This objective is to challenge stigma and discrimination on the grounds of liver diseases that create barriers to screening, early diagnosis, treatment, and care.
The group will be a platform for collaborative work with our advocacy partners:
- European Chronic Disease Alliance (ECDA)
- European Alcohol Policy Alliance (Eurocare)
- Biomed Alliance
- European Cancer Organisation (ECO)
- European Public Health Alliance (EPHA)
- ACHIEVE Coalition
- EASL Patient Synergies (collaboration with umbrella patient organisations)