2 September 2014
The European Gaucher Alliance (EGA) was established in 1994 and constituted in 2008 as an umbrella group supporting patient organisations for Gaucher disease. Every two years, the EGA conducts a questionnaire survey of member associations to help develop its priorities and annual work programme. Results of the latest survey are presented.
Between June 2012 and April 2013, the 36 members and associate members of the EGA were asked to complete a questionnaire detailing membership numbers, disease specific treatments used by patients, means of access to treatment, availability of treatment centres and home infusions, sources of support for patients with Gaucher disease, patient organisations’ activities, collaborations, funding sources and any issues of concern. Questionnaires completed in 2012 were revised in January 2013 and responses analysed between July and September 2013.
Thirty three members returned data on one or more questions. Findings identified inequalities in access to treatment both within and between members’ countries. Three of 27 countries, for which data were available, relied totally on humanitarian aid for treatment and 6% of untreated patients in 20 countries were untreated because of funding issues, a situation many feared would worsen with deteriorating economic climates. Access to treatment and reimbursement represented 45% of members’ concerns, while 35% related to access to specialist treatment centres, home infusions and doctors with expertise in Gaucher disease. Member associations’ main activities centred on patient support (59% of responses) and raising awareness of Gaucher disease and patients’ needs amongst the medical community, government and healthcare decision makers and the general public (34% of responses). Twenty one (78% of respondents) indicated they were the only source of help for Gaucher disease patients in their country. For many, activities were constrained by funds; two members had no external funding source. Activities were maximised through collaboration with other patient organisations and umbrella organisations for rare diseases.