Netherlands signs EU declaration to deliver cross-border access to genomic information

The Netherlands joins 17 other EU member states already involved in the initiative.
By Leontina Postelnicu
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The Netherlands has announced that it will be taking part in an initiative launched by the European Commission in April to deliver cross-border access to genomic information, joining 17 other EU member states that have pledged their commitment to collaborate by signing the declaration to make one million sequenced genomes accessible in the EU by 2022. 

The European Commission said the project would enable patients to have an “active role in their personalised treatment". Member states involved are expected to work together to overcome challenges around data silos and the lack of interoperability hindering efforts to link up genomic and other health data across the EU, while also maximising investments already made at national level in sequencing and bio banking.

Croatia also signed the EU declaration back in September, before the first meeting in Brussels of each country's representatives for the initiative, including - along with Croatia and the Netherlands - Bulgaria, Austria, the Czech Republic, Cyprus, Estonia, Finland, Greece, Italy, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Portugal, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, and the UK. 

“Cooperation on health and particularly on linking genomic health data throughout the European Union is of the utmost importance for improving personalised health and better treatment for every EU citizen,” said Mariya Gabriel, Commissioner for Digital Economy and Society.

The Dutch Ministry of Health, Welfare and Sport has set ambitious goals for its eHealth agenda, which includes the MedMij project, a technical framework aiming to create a market for personal health environments, as described by Secretary General Erik Gerritsen.

"These are apps that connect with your mobile devices, with the hospital, the pharmacy, the GP system etc, so that you as a patient are the only one with total oversight about the information in the different systems. You alone can decide with whom you want to share data. MedMij is not the app itself, it is the system of arrangement and standards. We will provide a MedMij certification, so that people will know if a system is not MedMij approved and should better not be used. In the end, we strive to make MedMij certified apps free for patients as part of the standard insurance packages," Gerritsen said earlier this year

Speaking this week at an event organised by the HIMSS Dutch community and Health 2.0, Herko Coomans, Dutch Ministry of Health, Welfare and Sport National Health Information Council Adviser, reiterated their ambitions to provide direct electronic access to some medical information - such as medication data or test results - for 80 percent of chronically ill patients and to ensure that all the people in need of care at home would be able to communicate at any time with professionals caring for them through video consultations by 2019.

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