Ensuring the provision of better care through better nutrition

Good patient care includes nutritional status screening, diagnosis and treatment for people who are malnourished. It’s time to act!

Eating and feeding oneself is an essential element of life – if so, why is malnutrition - associated with a disease, disorder, or condition (cancer, short bowel syndrome, frailty in older people) or caused by a treatment (chemotherapy) - so often overseen and undiagnosed?  

The Medical Nutrition Industry International (MNI) and co-signatories All.Can, SNE – Specialised Nutrition Europe, and ESNO – European Specialist Nurses Organisation have adopted the following Manifesto with the aim of guiding the next mandate and agendas of the EU bodies, focusing on integrating nutritional care as a core component of the patient care pathway for the 2024-2029 period - Fight patient access inequalities to nutritional care by reflecting on reimbursement of treatments. 

It is estimated that 33 million people in Europe are malnourished or at risk of developing disease-related malnutrition.


Include early malnutrition screening in health policy plans

Disease-related malnutrition can exacerbate an underlying disease, leading to higher risk of infection and complications. Malnutrition left untreated can also cause a reduction of muscle mass, resulting in frailty and impaired mobility and independence, especially in older people. Screening for malnutrition, in hospital or at home care, means limiting further risks and deterioration of the patient with potential re-hospitalisation. MNI calls for regular, systematic, standardised, and harmonised malnutrition screening for people at risk. 

Recognise that nutritional care may improve health outcomes

Nuritional care shall be considered an essential and formal part of patient treatment. Adequate nutrition is a key element of optimal healing and is often neglected as care focuses on eradicating the root cause of the illness. This can be done by developing a comprehensive and holistic framework including nutrition which targets all stages of the care pathway. 

Fight inequalities of patient access to nutritional care

Fight inequalities of patient access to nutritional care through reflecting on reimbursement of treatment - which largely depends on where the patients live, rather than on the nature of their diseases and the appropriate treatment. Lack of clear rules, - across and often within EU Member States - to deliver medical nutrition safely creates inequal access to nutritional care, in hospital and at home, for patients and their families, increasing risk of readmission to hospital, complications and reduction of clinical outcomes. We call on the next legislature to further harmonise assessment and provision of settlement, while incentivising Member States to include in their reimbursement schemes evidence-based nutritional interventions. 

Consider nutritional interventions as an investment in health

Projections highlight that malnutrition concerns 1 in 4 hospital patients and it costs an average of €170 billion a year for European countries. When broadly deployed, nutritional interventions have the potential to positively impact population’s health directly and indirectly by reducing the use of healthcare resources and costs. 

Ensure the adequate clinical use of nutritional interventions

Getting the right nutritional care in a timely manner can help reduce medical complications, support recovery and independence, and lower healthcare resource use. This is possible by providing care through multidisciplinary teams, including a nutrition specialist, as well as adherence to clinical guidelines endorsed by the International Medical Societies at large. 

It is estimated that 33 million people in Europe are malnourished or at risk of developing disease-related malnutrition. Malnutrition is associated with higher complication rates, risks of infections, longer hospital stays and increased mortality. Medical nutrition improves patient outcomes and quality of life and positively benefit health systems’ resilience.  

Nutrition is not a cost, it is an investment! 

Ahead of the EU elections, we call future decision and policy makers in the European Parliament and the European Commission to commit to supporting and promoting adequate, available, and accessible nutritional care for patients in need. 

Find out more about the Medical Nutrition Industry Manifesto here.