Europa Uomo celebrates its 20th anniversary this year. Here, one of its founders, Hein Van Poppel, Chair of Policy at the European Association of Urology (EAU), tells what the organisation means to him

In the very early days of Europa Uomo, one of its founders Louis Denis encouraged me to take on a role within the organisation, creating its Scientific Committee to advise and support on scientific matters. This was an international panel of around 25 experts not only from Europe but beyond – for example, Peter Albertsen from the US and Ian Tannock from Canada. They were people upon whose advice we could rely.

At its foundation, Europa Uomo had an extensive membership of 19 national organisations, and because of my role in the Scientific Committee, it was a pleasure to join the Board as an ex-officio member. This has enabled me to attend Europa Uomo Board meetings over the years, physically and virtually, so I have been able to see how the organisation has grown, to 26 members today.

I want to emphasise that Europa Uomo is run by volunteers. They work all hours of the day. And that is partly why, over 20 years, they have been able to build one of the strongest patient advocacy groups in Europe. Europa Uomo is now known and respected internationally in the scientific community for the work it has done – for example on the EUPROMS and EUPROPER studies. The sound financial situation of the organisation shows that sponsors have confidence in its strengths and aspirations.

Over the years, the Board has managed to get its messages across to the EAU, and EAU has given it the support it needed for different projects. When I was Adjunct Secretary General of the EAU, responsible for education, I found through my contacts with Europa Uomo that patients got far too little attention. So we built the Patient Office at EAU, which became responsible for patient information, and later the EAU Patient Advocacy Group (EPAG), which other patient organisations also joined. On the initiative of Europa Uomo, we started to organise the European Prostate Cancer Awareness Day (EPAD) in the European Parliament.

So Europa Uomo has inspired me, and together we have realised something very important. Patients are today involved in the EAU guidelines panels, in our scientific journals, in the annual EAU Congress and more. Europa Uomo provided great support in EAU’s aim to get prostate cancer prioritised on the European Commission agenda, and together we made significant progress in the implementation of prostate cancer screening. Thank you Europa Uomo.  You can be very proud of what you have achieved in 20 years.

This article is based on a presentation given by Hein Van Poppel at a celebratory Europa Uomo reception held at the EAU Congress in Paris last month. Hein Van Poppel is pictured at the reception above (centre) with Erik Briers from Europa Uomo (left) and UK urologist Philip Cornford.