An Urge to Act

Continence health problems are a major health issue that affects a large part of Europe’s population but is currently not receiving the focus and attention it should. It does not only have a significant impact on patients and their loved ones but also national health systems, the economy, the environment and society. The Urge to Act is a new Europe-wide campaign, initiated by the EAU Policy Office, aimed at achieving substantial change in policies relating to incontinence across Europe.

Continence problems are a prevalent issue with consequences that are felt across all genders, regardless of age or socio-economic background. They are often the result of another condition or a side effect of treatment, are debilitating and often chronic, and can result in a serious negative impact on the patients’ quality of life. Physical, psychosocial and economic consequences for patients and their carers are common. While optimal continence health should be a reality for everybody, we must acknowledge that risk often correlates with age, and the burden of long-term care for people suffering from continence problems still falls disproportionately on women.

The good news is that there are many ways to improve continence health, and a lot more can be done to reduce the burden on patients, their carers, and society. “An Urge to Act” calls policymakers to recognise the burden of continence health problems, improve diagnosis and optimise patient outcomes in Europe through increased prevention, better care and access to supportive interventions, including treatment. An Urge to Act perfectly ties into European health initiatives such as collaborative programmes on non-communicable diseases (NCDs) and research, as well as European legislation on waste management, green policies and the classification of continence-related products.

The first EU Continence Health Summit 2023

The first EU Continence Health Summit, held on 8 November 2023 in Brussels brought together various stakeholders to work on our common purpose: Underscore the need for action to improve continence health and to provide policymakers with a policy vision that can drive tangible change.

At the summit, the findings of a report on the socio-economic costs in the EU of continence health problems were presented and a joint continence health manifesto for the EU was signed by various MEPs and patient organisations supporting the cause.

Economic Health Report

Part of the Urge to Act campaign was a socio-economic report, the first of its kind, that gives more insight in the burden of UI in the European Union countries (EU) in terms of the prevalence, healthcare costs and environmental impact from 2023 to 2030. The report demonstrates that across all EU countries, the estimated economic burden of UI was €69.1 billion in 2023. The economic analysis presented in this report estimates the economic burden of UI could increase by 25% if no action is taken, to €86.7 billion in 2030.