Anna Záborská (Slovakia)
MEPs speak out on dementia
Anna Záborská (Slovakia) talks to AE about his priorities for the European elections (May 2009)
In the run up to the elections, Alzheimer Europe asked Members of the European Parliament the following questions:
1. As the mandate of this European Parliament draws to a close, we would be very interested in hearing which you consider to be the key accomplishments of this Parliament which had a direct impact on people with Alzheimer’s disease and their carers?
2. After the European Parliament elections in June, which are the main policy initiatives that will be important for people with dementia and their carers?
3. If you are re-elected, do you have any personal priorities that would be of particular interest to people with dementia and their carers?
Anna Záborská: In the European Parliament, it is possible to raise awareness of those engaged in taking a political or legislative decision. The problems of the people with neurodegenerative diseases – and particularly with Alzheimer’s disease – as well as those of their carers must not be left out of the picture. Our Carers Interest Group in the European Parliament is a real medium for reflection and setting up of strategies. It enables the institutional decision makers to get acquainted with the very problems of the carers thanks to the contribution NGOs such as Alzheimer Europe or the European Federation of Unpaid Parents and Carers at Home (FEFAF), as well as their national associations.
During my first mandate in the European Parliament, I wrote a report on women’s poverty in Europe and another one on inter-generational solidarity. Of course, I called on the policy makers to officially recognise the contribution of the women and the men who care for a dependant person. It is just a matter of equity and social justice.
Policies at all levels must reflect the carers’ predominant cross-cutting role for the sake of the people who are ill and for the common good of society. This is why I note with great pleasure that this was addressed not only within the Women’s Committee that I preside, but also within the Public Health Committee.
Do not forget that the European Parliament adopted written declaration 80/2008 on the need to recognise Alzheimer’s disease as a European public health priority and that this declaration is now an official European Parliament document ! I invite all the people with Alzheimer’s disease as well as their carers to make good use of the work of the European Parliament.
The work continues! I am fully aware that various political issues will compete with each other. The work of the Carers Interest Group is vital for policy makers who work on carers’ issues. It must remain a high priority and survive.
Right from the beginning of the next mandate, we must fight to include a budgetary allocation for the financing of Alzheimer associations and carers associations.
Then, I strongly believe we need to continue to speak about Alzheimer’s disease and the importance of the carers to the policy makers. We can easily work on the opportunities offered by the political agenda. In addition to World Alzheimer’s Day (21 September), I also think of World Day of Social Justice (20 February), World Health Day (7 May), Mothers’ Day (10 May), International Day of the Family (15 May) and Fathers’ Day (in June), Old People’s Day (1 October), or still, International Human Solidarity Day (20 December). All these dates are public opportunities to remind us that the people with Alzheimer’s disease are first and foremost cared for by a family member, and that these carers play a fundamental role for those who are sick, the other family members and the common good.
I would also suggest to hold a European policy forum on Alzheimer’s disease and their carers. This cross-cutting event could be held in the European Economic and Social Committee.
Finally, if you allow me to dream, I would be delighted if DG Health in the European Commission could take forward the Council conclusions of 16 December 2008 that call for public health strategies to fight neurodegenerative diseases linked to age, and in particular Alzheimer’s disease. There again, this will be a major political initiative.
I am a Member of the European Parliament for Slovakia. In my country, we also face problems linked to neurodegenerative diseases, such as Alzheimer’s disease. We have marvellous people who we need to support in their endless fight. I thus will continue my involvement in favour of the persons with the disease, their families and their carers.
I promise to take forward the priorities of Written Declaration 80/2008 on the need to recognise Alzheimer’s disease as a European public health priority. We will thus need to promote pan-European research on the causes, prevention and treatment of Alzheimer’s disease, improve early diagnosis, simplify procedures for patients and carers and improve their quality of life, and, finally, give the Alzheimer associations regular support.
At the end of the mandate, we will be called upon to negotiate the 8th Framework Programme for European research. Neurodegenerative diseases, especially Alzheimer’s disease, will have to be included in the Programme. Regarding carers, we should make a better use of the European agencies to carry out a detailed analysis of the real work provided by the carers in order to better develop tools that will recognize the true value of their engagement.
Last Updated: Wednesday 14 October 2009