New brochure on best practices in mental health launched

While many research institutions, care centres, non‐ governmental organisations, and governments within the EU conduct programmes and practices centred on mental health, it can be difficult to find information about them and to ensure their use and scale up in other settings. Good practices are a valuable resource contributing to sharing of knowledge and experience, and facilitating improvements in mental health by encouraging their adaptation and implementation.

The EU Compass for Action on Mental Health and Well‐being has been commissioned by the Consumers, Health, Agriculture and Food Executive Agency (Chafea) to collect, exchange, and analyse information on policy and stakeholder activities in mental health.

To read the booklet in full on the Europa website go to: https://ec.europa.eu/health/sites/health/files/mental_health/docs/2017_mh_work_schools_en.pdf

Health system performance assessment: Reporting and Communicating, a Practical Guide for Policy Makers

During the meetings of the EU expert group on HSPA, several experts expressed their interest to look at specific practical topics that could be of interest to policy makers, e.g. how to present HSPA findings, simplicity of the communication vis-à-vis complexity of the analysis, etc.

HSPA is a complex combination of activities that range from the involvement of stakeholders, the building of a political supportive environment, the definition of indicators, and the collection of reliable and comparable data – just to name few of them.

To read the full paper on reporting and communicating, a practical guide for policy makers go to: https://ec.europa.eu/health/sites/health/files/systems_performance_assessment/docs/2017_hspa_reportingcommunicating_en.pdf

 

World Mental Health Day: New brochure on best practices in mental health launched

On World Mental Health Day, the EU-financed Compass Consortium launched a new brochure on Good Practices for Mental health at work, in schools, and prevention of depression and suicide.  The brochure gathers best practices from across the EU for the benefit of organisations seeking to improve the care that they provide in mental health and well-being – be they schools, workplaces, community centres, counselling services or medical practices.

Examples of potentially useful practices in mental health and well-being, gathered and evaluated by the Consortium include:

  • Mental health at work
  • Mental health in schools
  • Prevention of depression
  • Prevention of suicide

To read the brochure in full go to: https://ec.europa.eu/health/sites/health/files/mental_health/docs/2017_mh_work_schools_en.pdf

Food and drink policies for better heart health

A message for World Heart Day, by Vytenis Andriukaitis, European Commissioner for Health and Food Safety:

“I am a big fan of a Mediterranean style diet, rich in fruit and vegetables that is good for heart health. Unfortunately the numbers seem to suggest that not so many of us adopt this kind of regime. Indeed, only one in seven people over the age of 15 in the EU eats the recommended five portions of fruit and vegetables every day according to 2016 figures. Furthermore, in 17 EU countries more that 50% of adults are overweight or obese, which we know is a major risk factor for cardiovascular disease s (CVDs).”

The latter remains the leading cause of death and a major cause of illness and disability in the EU, despite considerable progress in tackling CVDs. According to the latest Eurostat data, heart diseases and strokes causes over 1.8 million deaths in the EU in 2014 alone, and according to the European Heart Network, dietary risks are the cause of around half of premature deaths from CVD. As our diet is such an important factor in warding off CVD, on this year’s World Heart Day I would like to focus on the importance of food and drink policies for heart health, and outline some supportive EU-actions in this area of national competence.

To read this message in full on the European Commission website: http://ec.europa.eu/newsroom/sante/newsletter-specific-archive-issue.cfm?newsletter_service_id=327&newsletter_issue_id=5329

European Commission Initiative on Breast Cancer

European women’s probability of developing breast cancer over a lifetime is approximately 1 in 8*. A woman’s individual risk of breast cancer may be higher or lower than this average, depending on a number of factors, including age, family history, reproductive history (such as menstrual and childbearing history), race/ethnicity, and others.

The ECIBC is developing recommendations for breast cancer screening and diagnosis. Each recommendation is specifically tailored to the needs of citizens and patients, health professionals, and policy makers. All recommendations are based on the female population at ‘average’ and ‘below average’ risk of developing breast cancer.

To read more about this initiative on the Europa.eu site: http://ecibc.jrc.ec.europa.eu/recommendations/

International comparisions of health prices and volumes

Cross-country variation in health expenditure may be the result of differences in the prices of goods and services or differences in the volume of care, or a mix of both. Separating health spending into volume and price measures helps policy makers better understand the drivers of cross-country variations, and helps them decide what policy responses should be put in place to address health spending trends. Such policies may differ if, for example, a country’s high health care spending is due to relatively high volume of goods and services consumed or to the relatively high price a country pays for those goods or services.

The OECD have recently published new findings on these international comparisons.

To download the document on International comparisons of health prices and volumes from the oecd.org website

Pilot projects on Health Inequalities

The European Parliament funds a number of pilot projects designed to test the feasibility and usefulness of action, develop evidence-based strategies to address a problem, identify good practices, and provide policy guidance in the area of health inequalities.

One such pilot is VulnerABLE: Improving the health of those in isolated and vulnerable situations

It targets specific vulnerable and isolated populations such as children and families from disadvantaged backgrounds; those living in rural/isolated areas; those with physical, mental and learning disabilities or poor mental health; the long-term unemployed; the inactive; the ‘in-work poor’; older people; victims of domestic violence and intimate partner violence; people with unstable housing situations (the homeless); and prisoners.

Due to their circumstances, these groups may be more at risk of poor health and/or face barriers in accessing healthcare services. The project will assess their particular health needs and challenges, as well as identify best practices to support them and ultimately improve their health.

Initial research has found that unmet health needs are a significant factor for those living in vulnerable and isolated situations. For example:

  • Data from the Survey of Health, Ageing and Retirement in Europe (SHARE) show that in older people socioeconomic factors such as a lower level of education and lower income increase the likelihood of older people experiencing limitations to their mobility, and the prevalence of eyesight, hearing and chewing problems
  • Those living in rural areas are less likely than urban residents to seek the healthcare they need because of cost, distance, and/or a lack of health facilities and professionals
  • Most prisoners have pre-existing vulnerabilities, such as substance abuse and mental health needs, which overcrowding and poor hygiene in prison may make worse
  • Those with lower levels of education are more likely to have a lower life expectancy
  • Long-term unemployment and inactivity is associated with a range of poor health outcomes

Over its two-year lifetime, the ‘VulnerABLE’ project will create training materials and capacity-building workshops for national and regional authorities who deliver healthcare services and have a vital role to play in tackling health inequalities

For more information about Pilot projects to tackle Health Inequalities on the ec.europa.eu website

The ethics of PH surveillance

Public health officials regularly collect and analyse data to map disease, spot patterns, identify causes and respond to outbreaks. Surveillance, when conducted ethically, is the foundation for programs to promote human well-being at the population level and can contribute to reducing inequalities.

However, it is not without risks for participants and sometimes poses ethical dilemmas. It can lead to harm if people’s privacy is violated, or they are stigmatized on the basis of the information they provide about themselves.

The WHO have produced Guidelines on Ethical Issues in Public Health Surveillance – the first international framework of its kind. It outlines 17 ethical guidelines that can assist everyone involved in public health surveillance, including officials in government agencies, health workers, NGOs and the private sector.

To read the Guidelines on Ethical Issues in Public Health Surveillance

EU Action Plan on AMR

The EU has published its Action Plan to tackle Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR) – a growing threat that is responsible for 25,000 deaths and a loss of €1.5 billion in the EU every year.

The plan includes guidelines for doctors, nurses, pharmacists, hospital administrators and others who play a role in antimicrobial use to promote their prudent use in people. These guidelines complement infection prevention and control guidelines which may exist at national level. In addition, the plan foresees more than 75 actions built on three main pillars:

  • making the EU a best-practice region
  • boosting research, development and innovation
  • shaping the global agenda

For more information on the Action Plan to tackle Antimicrobial Resistance on the ec.europa.eu website

The economic costs of unhealthy diets and low physical activity

Unhealthy diets and low physical activity contribute to many chronic diseases and disability; they are responsible for some 2 in 5 deaths worldwide and for about 30% of the global disease burden. Yet surprisingly little is known about the economic costs that these risk factors cause, both for health care and society more widely.

This study pulls together the evidence about the economic burden that can be linked to unhealthy diets and low physical activity.

The study’s findings are a step towards a better understanding of the economic burden that can be associated with two key risk factors for ill health and they will help policymakers in setting priorities and to more effectively promoting healthy diets and physical activity.

To download the report Assessing the costs of unhealthy diet and low physical activity from the euro.who.int websit