A look-back at Kjeld’s time as ELF Chair

As we say a heartfelt goodbye to Kjeld Hansen as ELF Chair, we would like to take a moment to look back on his incredible achievements over the past three years.

Despite his post coinciding with the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, Kjeld has confidently steered ELF through the disruption. He helped to establish Lungs Europe in Brussels and oversaw the first ELF stakeholder event and the development of the new ELF website.

Kjeld’s strategy, which he developed together with all ELF committees and ERS leadership, followed six clear aims:

  1. Be patient led.
  2. Improve knowledge and understanding.
  3. Engage effectively.
  4. Have a strong voice.
  5. Ensure good governance.
  6. Increase resource and reach.

So, what exactly do each of these aims mean and what has ELF done to pursue them in the past three years?

Be patient led ELF will ensure that patients and patient organisations drive its work and that they are at the heart of all that it does.

During Kjeld’s time as Chair, ELF increased the number of Patient Advisory Groups (PAG) and developed a new United PAG in order to cover cross-disease topics and activities. The ELF Council has also been restructured to have a more balanced representation of patients.

ELF is continually committed to finding ways to include more people from different backgrounds who may speak different languages.

Improve knowledge and understanding ELF will further develop its health and science communication for patients and the public.

All of ELF’s resources are now offered in the widest number of languages possible, with more visual content including new social media channels and videos in order to aid e-health literacy. ELF is also proud to provide evidence-based, topical materials co-produced with patients and professionals.

Engage effectively ELF will publish its experiences and methods for patient engagement and involvement and continue working in this area to improve diagnostics and treatment in all lung conditions.

Today ELF takes an increasingly proactive role in EU projects by leading applications alongside responding to requests. We also promote good practice in patient involvement, providing advice and guidance.

Moving forward, ELF plans to develop more initiatives and sessions at the ERS Congress devoted to the priorities of patients.

Have a strong voice ELF will actively advocate for improved lung health in Europe.

The opening of a new office in Brussels has enabled ELF to be more involved in EU projects. ELF has also ensured that patients are at the heart of the new MEP Lung Health Group  by collecting their stories and experiences to influence policy and raise the profile of lung health. ELF is also part of the European Lung Health Group.

Ensure good governance ELF will strengthen its management systems and encourage collaboration and capacity building of member organisations.

Through both our PAGs and our Patient Organisation Networking Day, ELF has successfully improved opportunities for patients and patient organisations to collaborate. Collaboration with our own stakeholders has also been enhanced thanks to the aid of digital tools, alongside the construction of a healthy work environment and continuous skill development.

Increase resource and reach ELF will continue to be core funded by ERS but will find new sources of income to ensure it can deliver on its aim to reach more people.

Under Kjeld’s guidance, ELF has created both a short and long-term fundraising plan, and created a dedicated staff role for fundraising to ensure we deliver on this. We continue to offer services for patient input and communications and dissemination for EU projects.

We extend our deepest thanks to Kjeld for his dedication and remarkable work at ELF that continues to help us grow and develop even following his departure.

Kjeld hands the reigns to Dimitris Kontopidis, our new ELF chair. We offer him a very warm welcome and look forward to what the next three years hold.

You can hear more from Dimitris in his interview.