Written question to the European Commission
As the war in Ukraine intensifies, many children with cancer have been forced to leave their homes and hospital beds and flee the country. Cancer itself is a problem, but treatment interruptions, stress and risk of infection might have a fatal effect on these children. Furthermore, in the event of the end of war in Ukraine and the return of children refugees with cancer to their home country, there is an uncertainty about Ukraine’s capacity to meet their health needs because of broken supply lines.
1. How is the Commission supporting the Member States with the data collection process, patient tracking and follow-up to cancer among the Ukrainian refugee population? Will the Commission consider developing guidance and protocols for this?
2. Given that children with cancer require treatment with certain protocols and sequences of medications delivered at specific intervals, will the Commission consider developing guidance and protocols on child oncological patients receiving cancer care in a Member State in case the war in Ukraine ends and they return to Ukraine?
3. In order to decrease pressure on the healthcare systems of Eastern European countries, how is the Commission supporting Member States with the relocation of Ukrainian patients from these countries to other Member States?
Answer given by Commissioner Kyriakides on behalf of the European Commission
The Temporary Protection Directive ensures access to health care. This procedure comprises triage (health assessments), with cancer patients identified and referral to a specialised care, ensuring continuity of treatment.
A patient transfer scheme for severely ill Ukrainian patients is implemented. The Commission works with the Ukrainian Ministry of Health to evacuate severely ill patients, including children with cancer. Poland has established a paediatric cancer patients’ hub, supporting transfers to EU countries.
The European Reference Networks (ERNs) support refugees from Ukraine suffering from a rare disease. They set up the Rare Diseases Hub Ukraine for patients triage and coordination within the 24 ERNs (four are dedicated to rare cancers and one to childhood cancers). The Commission supports the pilot hub and is part of the Steering Committee.
Under its Health Policy Platform, the Commission established a network of non-governmental and patient organisations, including for cancer, to support response to public health needs following the Russian military assault on Ukraine.
The recent Commission Communication on Ukraine covers a chapter on children protection. The Commission stands ready to work closely with Ukraine to ensure that refugees from Ukraine receive the healthcare they need in the EU .