Background: Pediatric surgeons and patient organisations agree that fewer centers for anorectal malformations with larger patient numbers are essential to reach better treatment. The European Union transacts a political process which aims to realize such centers of expertise for a multitude of rare diseases. All the centers on a specific rare disease should constitute an ERN on that disease. ARM-Net members in different countries report on first experiences with the implementation of national directives, identifying opportunities and risks of this process.
Methods: Relevant details from the official European legislation were analyzed. A survey among the pediatric surgeons of the multidisciplinary ARM-Net consortium about national implementation was conducted.
Results: European legislation calls for multidisciplinary centers treating children with rare diseases, and proposes a multitude of quality criteria. The member states are called to allocate sufficient funding and to execute robust governance and oversight, applying clear methods for evaluation. Participation of the patient organisations is mandatory. The national implementations all over Europe differ a lot in respect of extent and timeframe.
Conclusions: Establishing Centers of Expertise and a ERN for anorectal malformations offers great opportunities for patient care and research. Pediatric surgeons should be actively engaged in this process.