Evolving the self-care environment
By Birgit Schuhbauer, AESGP president
2019 has been a special year in many aspects, and not only for AESGP. Significant developments happened in the European Union: a new European Parliament and a renewed Commission took office; Ursula von der Leyen became the first woman to be nominated President of the European Commission…
We are extremely pleased to see health recognized as a prominent issue for the European Union in the mission letter to Stella Kyriakides, Commissioner for Health. During her first months in office, she has proven to be a great health advocate and an inspiring leader. We very much look forward to working with Ms Kyriakides and her team, as well as with other Commissioners, in advancing responsible self-care, enabling citizens to take better care of their health needs, and contributing to the sustainability of European health care systems.
Self-care products (namely non-prescription medicines, self-care medical devices and food supplements) represent a significant push towards new and greater self-efficacy, autonomy and engagement in health for individuals. Self-care offers an untapped potential to free public resource for governments. We must act and position self-care as the true first step in healthcare if we are to address appropriately the rising burden of chronic diseases, aging population and scarce public resources.
Throughout 2019, AESGP has continued its efforts in implementing its Strategy 2019-2022. The strategy has now been translated into an action plan to guide us in embracing changes and moving self-care forward. The AESGP team, responsible for the day-to-day operations of our association, has expanded, reflecting the increasing importance of AESGP and the self-care sector.
We continued to proactively shape the regulatory, legislative, political and economic framework where the self-care industry operates, with a focus on non-prescription medicines, self-care medical devices and food supplements. Building on a cross-category expertise that is our added value and at the heart of our mission, we continue to build trust in self-care and in our Industry, and remain accountable to our stakeholders. We focus intently on strengthening and developing a holistic network encompassing all relevant stakeholders, and serve as an effective platform to our members.
As part of the implementation of our strategy, we have undergone a significant ‘makeover’: our website has been redesigned; our visual identity, refreshed. These changes come along with the aspiration to become a go-to source on self-care in Europe. Our video “What is self-care”, released on International Self-Care Day (24th July), is a reminder that the value of self-care is inherent and its importance undeniable.
We begin 2020 in a very distinct public health situation: the global pandemic of COVID-19. This exceptional plight requires businesses and each and every one of us to embrace new public health measures and change our way of life. At the Self-care Industry, we are all working around the clock to maintain the continuity of our supply chains in order to ensure that European citizens benefit from an uninterrupted access to self-care products through their regular suppliers (e.g. pharmacies).
Optimizing the availability of healthcare professionals, infrastructure, equipment and therapeutics is essential in a time where an unprecedented number of patients require urgent care. At the time of global pandemic, access to self-care products is vital in order to avoid any unnecessary pressure on health systems and allow the rational allocation of scarce resources. As the European Commission is coordinating a common European response to the COVID-19 outbreak, we are taking part in a number of coordinated actions aimed to reinforce public health and health systems.
Because of our joint efforts, there will come a day when the pandemic is over. We will come out of our houses and go to eat out. We will celebrate. I don’t know when that day will come, but it will. Until that day though, we are together in this. Stay safe out there and thank you for reading!