Ensuring quality and safety of organ donation - Data infrastructure for the benefit of the solidarity community.

RB – 02/2020

Croatia has held the Presidency of the Council of the European Union since the beginning of the year. In addition to many other important issues, the Croats have also undertaken to address a number of important health-related issues during their Presidency.

Transplantation and organ donation

The Croatian programme indicates that they would like to share their experience with organ transplantation and organ donation. The aim is to explore possibilities for closer and better cooperation between Member States in this area. Existing legislation and guidelines already contribute to improving the availability, efficient access, quality and safety of organ transplantations in the EU. The impetus provided by the Croatian presidency could lead to a revision of the outdated action plan on organ donation and transplantation. As a result of the last action plan from 2009-2015, there were an additional 4,600 transplants carried out in the EU.

As part of the Croatian EU Presidency, a High-level Conference on Organ Donation and Transplantation will be held in Zagreb between 16-17 March. The main topic will be the quality and safety of organ donation.

In a European comparison of Member States, Spain, Croatia, Portugal and Belgium are at the top of the list of countries with people willing to donate. Germany is at the bottom of the list in the country comparison and therefore, as an EU member with a large population, is dependent on imports from abroad. In an international comparison, however, it must be kept in mind that there are differences in national donation systems (opt-in or opt-out) and defined medical requirements for organ removal.

Given the shortage of organ donations in Germany, the Bundestag voted on 16 January 2020 on the future organ donation system in Germany. Two competing proposals were on the table. The proposal put forward by Federal Health Minister Spahn and parliamentarian Professor Karl Lauterbach for an ‘opt-out’ system lost out to the proposal tabled by parliamentarians Annalena Baerbock and Karin Maag to regularly encourage people to consent to becoming an organ donor.

The result of the vote means that the ‘opt-in’ (informed consent) system for organ donation remains in place. In the future, people will be asked if they wish to become an organ and tissue donor when they renew their national identity card. In addition, doctors will regularly encourage their patients to register as a donor in a new national online register.

Data and digitalisation

Health data must be made available for the benefit of the community of solidarity. With this in mind, it is important to consider further expanding the secondary use of data and establishing a high quality, secure data infrastructure.

A high-level event ‘eHealthWeek Croatia’ will take place in Rovinj, Croatia on 15-17 April as part of the Croatian presidency of the Council. The event is in line with the resolution on changes in healthcare and care in the Digital Single Market. A Member State conference on this topic will also be held at the same location.