Israel has become the first country outside Europe to be accepted as a full member of the European Federation of Crohn’s and Ulcerative Colitis Associations (EFCCA).The chairman of the Israel Crohn’s and Colitis Association, Eyal Tzur, said this was a “precedent and a show of confidence” in Israel and a “fundamental change of countries” that previously had a pan-European approach of being a European federation for Europeans only.Five years ago, the Israeli association received observer status, approved without opposition by the EFCCA’s 29 member countries.Tzur said the about-face shows confidence in the Israeli association, its professionalism and its achievements.The European federation advances legislation to benefit patients opposite the European Parliament, the pharmaceutical companies and research institutions.The member associations exchange information and thus advance the service given to patients in the various countries, he added.Named after Dr. Burrill Crohn, who first described the disease in 1932 along with colleagues Dr. Leon Ginzburg and Dr. Gordon Oppenheimer, Crohn’s disease belongs to a group of conditions known as inflammatory bowel diseases (IBD). Crohn’s disease is a chronic inflammatory condition of the gastrointestinal tract. It is not the same thing as ulcerative colitis, another type of IBD. The symptoms of these two illnesses are quite similar, but the areas affected in the gastrointestinal tract are different.The Israeli association is the sole representative of Crohn’s and colitis patients. It pushes for support of patients and expanding public awareness of the conditions, as well as promoting research, inclusion of relevant new technologies into the basket of health services and disseminating accurate information about the diseases and how to cope with them.It recently launched a new service offering free counseling from a medical psychologist, with advice regarding the National Insurance Institute, legal advice and a hotline to the health funds.