The economics of patient safety

The latest report in the OECD’s series ‘Better policies for better health’ is “The Economics of Patient Safety: strengthening a value-based approach to reducing patient harm at national level”.

It makes the point that a principal objective of health care is to do no harm and to ensure that the benefits of treatment outweigh its deleterious effects. However, unnecessary harm to patients has been part of health care for as long as medicine has been practiced and continues to occur. In recent decades a greater research focus has examined and quantified the extent and costs of patient safety failure across countries and healthcare settings. The increasing complexity of health care also means a higher risk of harm requiring greater vigilance, focus and investment to ensure care is as safe and effective as possible.This report:

  • estimates the cost of patient harm
  • outlines a strategy for policy-makers and healthcare leaders to improve patient safety with limited resources.

To download the full report on the Economics of Patient Safety from the oecd.org website

Measles outbreaks across Europe

Over 500 measles cases were reported for January 2017 in Europe with 85% of them coming from 7 of the 14 endemic countries (France, Germany, Italy, Poland, Romania, Switzerland and Ukraine). Measles continues to spread within and among European countries, with the potential to cause large outbreaks wherever immunization coverage has dropped below the necessary threshold of 95%.

As the WHO Regional Director for Europe pointed out:   “Today’s travel patterns put no person or country beyond the reach of the measles virus. Outbreaks will continue in Europe, as elsewhere, until every country reaches the level of immunization needed to fully protect their populations.”

Preliminary information for February indicates that the number of new infections is sharply rising. In all of the countries listed above, estimated national immunization coverage with the second dose of measles-containing vaccine is less than the 95% threshold.

For more information about measles in Europe from the euro.who.int website

Risk assessment in the EU

The EU has produced an infographic to show how the EU’s Scientific Committees assess risks. It not only shows in a clear and concise way how the Committees function but also provides concrete examples of how their work impacts EU legislation.
To download the infographic on Risk Assessment from the ec.europa.eu website

Youth in Health in Action

The European Solidarity Corps offers young Europeans from 18 to 30 years old the opportunity to make a real difference in people’s lives. Aiming for 100,000 placements by 2020, NGOs, Member State authorities and other organisations can offer quality placements for volunteering, traineeships or jobs.

Health is an integral part of this initiative. There are many ways young people could play a part in health projects, making use of their skills be it language, communication, IT or medical skills. If you have ideas and projects which you think could provide young people from the Solidarity Corps with opportunities to learn and demonstrate solidarity, the Corps would like to hear from you.

For more information on the European Solidarity Corps on the ec.europa.eu website

Pharmacovigilance

All medicinal products in the EU are subject to a strict testing and assessment of their quality, efficacy and safety before being authorised. Once placed on the market they continue to be monitored to ensure that any aspect which could impact the safety profile of a medicine is detected and assessed and that necessary measures are taken. This monitoring is called pharmacovigilance.

Pharmacovigilance activities include:

  • Collecting and managing data on the safety of medicines.
  • Looking at the data to detect “signals” (any new or changing safety issue).
  • Evaluating the data and making decisions with regard to safety issues.
  • Pro-active risk management to minimise any potential risk associated with the use of the medicine.
  • Acting to protect public health (including regulatory action).
  • Communicating with and informing stakeholders and the public.
  • Audit, both of the outcomes of action taken and of the key processes involved.

For more information about pharmacovigilance on the ec.europa.eu website

France to colour-code nutrition labelling

France is recommending the Nutri-Score system –  a straightforward labelling system that uses colour codes to guide consumers at a glance on the nutritional value of food products. This marks an important achievement for nutrition in the WHO European Region and it will build on other ongoing efforts in the country to create healthy food environments.

The United Kingdom already recommends traffic light labelling, a system that uses red, amber and green to indicate levels of fat, salt and sugar contained in food products. The Nutri-Score system that France intends to use employs a nutrient profiling system, based on the UK Food Standards Agency model, and classifies foods and beverages according to five categories of nutritional quality, indicated via a colour scale ranging from Green (grade A) to red (grade E).

For more information about the Nutri-score system of food labelling on the euro.who.int website

Harnessing big data for health

The latest edition of the Eurohealth Observer includes articles on:

  • connecting the dots: putting big data to work for health systems
  • big data for better outcomes: supporting health care system transformation in Europe
  • the Trump Administration launches health law changes into heavy seas
  • what does Brexit mean for health in the UK

To download the publication on Big data and health systems from the euro.who.int website

Autism spectrum disorders

According to the latest factsheet from the WHO, 1 in 160 children world-wide has an autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and for most of them, the condition becomes apparent during the first 5 years of life.

ASD refers to a range of conditions characterised by some degree of impaired social behaviour, communication and language, and a narrow range of interests and activities that are both unique to the individual and carried out repetitively. ASDs begin in childhood and tend to persist into adolescence and adulthood.

For more information about autism spectrum disorders and to download the Parent Skills Training Package on the who.int website

The Innov8 approach for reviewing national health programmes

The Innov8 technical handbook is a user-friendly resource as part of the Innov8 approach for reviewing national health programmes to leave no one behind. It gives detailed guidance and exercise sheets for each of the 8 steps of analysis that comprise the review process and includes background readings, country examples and analytical activities.

For more information and to download the handbook on the Innov8 approach for reviewing national health programes from the who.int website

The cost of a polluted environment: 1.7 million child deaths a year

More than 1 in 4 deaths of children under 5 years of age are attributable to unhealthy environments.

Every year, environmental risks – such as indoor and outdoor air pollution, second-hand smoke, unsafe water, lack of sanitation, and inadequate hygiene – take the lives of 1.7 million children under 5 years, according to the WHO.

The top 5 causes of death in children under 5 are:

  • respiratory infections, such as pneumonia, attributable to indoor and outdoor air pollution, and second-hand smoke (570,000 children a year)
  • diarrhoea, as a result of poor access to clean water, sanitation, and hygiene (361,000 children a year)
  • conditions, including prematurity, which could be prevented through access to clean water, sanitation, and hygiene in health facilities as well as reducing air pollution (270,000 children a year in their first month of life)
  • malaria that could be prevented through environmental actions, such as reducing breeding sites of mosquitoes or covering drinking-water storage (200,000 children a year)
  • unintentional injuries attributable to the environment, such as poisoning, falls, and drowning (200,000 children a year)

For more information on the causes of death for children under 5 from the who.int website