Learning from the Estonian e-health system

Estonia’s Minister of Health and Labour Riina Sikkut tells Health Europa what we can learn from the Estonian e-health system.

The Estonian e-health system is among the world’s most ambitious and a clear example of why this small EU country is widely hailed as one of the most advanced digital nations on the planet. Already, more than 95% of the data generated by hospitals and doctors has been digitised, and citizens can enjoy easy access to their own medical records, prescriptions, and the most suitable health professional.

Source: Learning from the Estonian e-health system

Here’s how much your country spends on your healthcare

Luxembourg topped the EU ranking for highest healthcare expenditure per inhabitant in 2016, spending some €5,600 per head, Eurostat revealed on Thursday.

The latest figures from the EU’s official statistics agency, Eurostat, show that healthcare expenditure per inhabitant was €5,000 or higher in three EU member states in 2016.

Luxembourg was found to be the most generous with €5,600 spend on each of its 590,000 inhabitant. Sweden and Denmark completed the podium, spending €5,100 and €5,000 per capita respectively.

On the other end of the spectrum, the three countries with the lowest healthcare expenditure per head in 2016 were Poland (€700), Bulgaria (€600) and Romania (€400).

It’s worth noting though that Switzerland and Norway, which are not EU member states spent considerably, and would have topped the EU chart.

Source: Here’s how much your country spends on your healthcare | Euronews

European Union history in the making with legalising medical cannabis

Laying the groundwork for legalising medical cannabis, the European Union is beginning to outline a harmonised set of laws across Europe.

Medical cannabis is inching its way into the European Union agenda as legislators prepare to funnel cash into research of the drug and begin laying the groundwork for a harmonised set of laws across Europe. In late 2018, health committee politicians in the European Parliament, voted to approve a draft resolution on the use of cannabis for medicinal purposes, and now the proposals are going to become a concrete motion.

To read more about this go to: European Union history in the making with legalising medical cannabis

One step closer to digitalise children’s vaccination status on a European level

The ‘Digital health policies for Children’s Health’ workshop was about strengthening children’s immunisation in Europe through health data standards and about connecting patient summaries to EU vaccination cards and immunisation registries.
Immunisation information of children could be vital in emergency situations, to determine the level of immunity of a child who has been exposed to an infection risk, such as tetanus or meningitis. It can also be useful for the care professional to advise a child or parent if the child is due for a vaccine or booster or has fallen behind schedule.
This fits within the context of both the European Union and the World Health Organisation (WHO) seeking to drive higher child immunisation uptake, and effective holistic child health care.

To read more about this on the European Commission website go to: One step closer to digitalise children’s vaccination status on a European level – European Commission

E-cigarettes: misconception of vaping dangers in the UK

Research from King’s College London, UK, finds smokers and ex-smokers overestimate the vaping dangers of e-cigarettes.

The Cancer Research UK-funded study assessed the knowledge about nicotine, perceptions of the relative harms of smoking, and vaping dangers, e-cigarettes and nicotine replacement therapy (NRT). With fewer than 6 out of 10 accurately believing that e-cigarettes are less harmful than tobacco cigarettes.

Dr Leonie Brose, from the Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology & Neuroscience, and lead researcher said: “Tobacco cigarettes kill over half of those who smoke long-term, yet very few people know that nicotine is not the direct cause of smoking-related death and disease.”

“We found those people who think nicotine is to blame for harms from smoking are more likely to think e-cigarettes and NRT are just as bad as smoking.”

Source: E-cigarettes: misconception of vaping dangers in the UK

NHS Long-term plan – “This is not about miracles”

The NHS Long-term plan is set to save almost half a million more lives with practical action and investment in treatments – but we must be wary of EU pressures.

With the Government announcing additional funding for NHS England, this means the NHS can plan to make the public health service fit for the future of patients, families and staff. Responding to the announcement of the NHS Long-term Plan, Niall Dickson, chief executive of the NHS Confederation, comments on the positive impact of the long-term plan and warns to beware of over-promising.

According to NHS England, the blueprint to make the NHS fit for the future will use the latest technology, such as digital GP consultations for all those who want them, coupled with early detection and a renewed focus on prevention to stop an estimated 85,000 premature deaths each year.

Source: NHS Long-term plan – “This is not about miracles”

EU’s climate chief calls for net-zero emissions by 2050

The European Union’s climate chief called for the bloc to take the lead and aim for net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 in its climate strategy published on Wednesday, ahead of key U.N. talks on curbing global warming.EU’s climate chief calls for net-zero emissions by 2050.

As President Donald Trump pulls the United States out of the Paris climate accord, European Commission climate chief Miguel Arias Canete said the bloc had to lead by example at next week’s climate talks in Poland.

The EU executive published its strategy on Wednesday, setting out eight pathways to reducing emissions – two of which chart a course for Europe to becoming climate neutral by absorbing as much greenhouse gas as it emits.

To read more about this go to: EU’s climate chief calls for net-zero emissions by 2050 | Reuters

The youngest smoke more 

An increasing number of children under 15 years old have started to smoke during the last 40 years in Europe.

Researchers have looked at 120,000 people from 17 European countries and one of the questions asked was when they started smoking between 1970 and 2009.

The data showed that all age groups have experienced a decline in the numbers starting smoking in this time span, except for the age group 11 – 15 years old, especially during the last 10 years.

The results showed that smoking increased most amongst young women in Western Europe, where around 40 per 1000 start smoking every year, compared to 20 in 1970. For young men in Northern Europe, the numbers have remained relatively constant.

To read more about smoking amongst children, go to: The youngest smoke more | Faculty of Medicine | University of Bergen

The state of health in the EU

Every two years, the OECD prepares an assessment of the state of health in the EU for the European Commission. The latest report has been published and includes statistical indicators for 35 European countries, as well as two cross-cutting chapters on EU political priorities: promoting mental health and reducing inefficient spending. The report shows stalled increase in life expectancy in many EU Member States, marked by persistent and large inequalities in health gains.

Since a steady 2-3 year life expectancy increase between 2001-2011, improvements slowed down to just half a year between 2011-2016. The progress is slower in the Western European countries. People with a low level of education can expect to live six years less than those with a high level of education. “These gaps largely reflect differences in exposure to risk factors, but also indicate disparities in access to care.” In 2017, health spending accounted for 9.6% of GDP in the EU as a whole, up from 8.8% in 2008 but slightly down from the latest estimates of 9.9%. After years of cuts in healthcare budget devoted to prevention (with a post-economic crisis dip 2008-2012), between 2012-2016, an average of 2.5% of total health expenditure was spent on preventive measures. It is still way below the 2004-2008 levels of 4.7%.

Evidence is presented for strengthening prevention and health promotion measures; prioritising effective and people-centered health systems; improving access to health care; and building more resilient health systems.

To read more about this on the European Commission website, go to: https://ec.europa.eu/health/state/glance_en

 

HIV: Know the epidemic, shape the response

Every second person diagnosed with HIV has already reached an advanced stage in the infection – which is one reason for a persistent HIV epidemic in Europe This shows that reaching and testing those at risk of infection with HIV is still a public health challenge across Europe.

With nearly 160,000 people newly diagnosed with HIV, 2017 marked another year of alarming numbers of new HIV diagnoses in the WHO European Region. Encouragingly, the overall increasing trend is not as steep as before. The eastern part of the Region recorded over 130 000 new HIV diagnoses, the highest number ever. In contrast, the European Union and European Economic Area (EU/EEA) countries reported a decline in rates of new diagnoses, mainly driven by a 20% decrease since 2015 among men who have sex with men.

Source: World AIDS Day 2018: Know the epidemic, shape the response