The Council of Europe, based in Strasbourg (France), is an inter-governmental organisation that covers, by virtue of its 47 member states, the entire European continent. Founded in 1949, the Council of Europe promotes human rights, democracy and the rule of law. As part of these activities, the organisation is contributing to the protection of public health.
The work of the Council of Europe in the area of organ transplantation started in the 1980s. As of 2007, blood transfusion and organ transplantation activities were transferred to the European Directorate for the Quality of Medicines & HealthCare (EDQM), a Directorate of the Council of Europe. The EDQM is a leading organisation that protects public health by supporting the development, implementation and application of quality standards for medicines and healthcare.
The European Committee on Organ Transplantation (CD-P-TO) is the steering committee in charge of organ transplantation activities at the EDQM. It actively promotes the non-commercialisation of organ donation, the fight against organ trafficking and the development of ethical, quality and safety standards in the field of organ, tissue and cell transplantation. Its activities include the collection of international data and monitoring of practices in Europe, the transfer of knowledge and expertise between organisations and experts through training and networking and the elaboration of reports, surveys and recommendations.
It also publishes and regularly updates the Guide to Safety and Quality Assurance for the Transplantation of Organs and the Guide to Safety and Quality Assurance for the Donation, Procurement, Testing, Processing, Preservation, Storage and Distribution of Tissues and Cells. These guides include safety and quality assurance standards for procurement, preservation, processing and distribution of organs, tissues and cells of human origin used for transplantation purposes.
The Council of Europe actively works to raise awareness among the general public on organ donation for transplantation. Since 1998, it has organised European Organ Donation Day, which promotes organ donation and transplantation in a different member state each year.