by Birgit Schuhbauer, AESGP President
After more than two years in a global public health crisis and with a land war now at our doorstep, we continue to operate in extraordinary times. We are working hard to ensure continuity of supply to meet the self-care needs of every person in Europe and society as a whole; making sure that the limited resources of the healthcare system are spared for those who need it the most.
It has been inspiring to witness the resilience and commitment of AESGP in supporting our industry throughout this period. On behalf of the Board of Directors, I would like to take this opportunity to express our deepest gratitude to each member of the AESGP committees, task forces, expert groups and staff. I am also very grateful to my colleagues on the Board, who have devoted a lot of time and energy to AESGP in 2021 as we sought to establish a position of stability and, at the same time, renewed the Strategy of AESGP for the next 5 years.
The most important task for AESGP remains fostering regulatory and policy frameworks suited to the needs of self-care products. A second priority is to continue to advocate for the individual, societal and economic value and benefits of self-care, with a particular focus on non-prescription medicines, self-care medical devices and food supplements in Europe.
Together, as a society, we self-manage 1.2 billion minor health issues every year. This saves €34 billion for European healthcare systems and economies that would otherwise be spent on unnecessary visits to the doctor or emergency rooms, missed work, prescribed medication costs, etc. We have estimated that an additional €17 billion could be saved if the right regulatory and policy framework was in place in Europe, supporting innovation and encouraging people to practice self-care first. Looking at these figures, we are convinced that we are an important player in rethinking public health policies and health systems in Europe.
Finally, we seize every opportunity to build a better future. We support transformative policies that lay the foundations for a greener, more digital and inclusive society. More than ever, we are seeing the profound implications of climate change on our health and beyond. That’s why we are placing critical aspects of climate action at the heart of our work. As a member of the Global Self-Care Federation, we spearheaded the Charter for Environmentally Sustainable Self-Care: the first industry-wide climate action resolution issued by the self-care industry. By promoting best practices, the Charter seeks to minimise the environmental impact of the industry without compromising health outcomes, product safety and access.
This Annual Report highlights the strength of the AESGP network, as well as our work and leadership through regulatory and policy work. As we continue to operate in unprecedented times, our founding values as an organisation are to bring countries and people together to advance health and well-being across borders, to inspire each other and to progress together.