Combatting HIV/AIDS

The EU has published a staff working document on combatting HIV/AIDS, viral hepatitis B and C and tuberculosis in the European Union and neighbouring countries.

These diseases pose the greatest risk to populations that are often also socially marginalised, such as prisoners, injecting drug users, homeless people, migrants and the poor and groups potentially subject to social stigma like men who have sex with men (MSM). Exacerbated social conditions make it even harder to reach out to these groups, necessitating specific tailored measures to ensure that prevention and medical care efforts are effective.

The staff working document takes stock of the EU support to Member States across several policy areas: public health, research, drugs policy, development cooperation, accession and neighbourhood policy, European structural funds, etc. It also presents EU-funded good practices related to early diagnosis, encouragement of testing, wider outreach to vulnerable groups, integrated care across the diseases, rapid linkage to care, treatment as prevention, health promotion and support to networks and civil society organisations.

To read more about this on the European Commission website go to:


Spending hours sitting in meetings? Consult WHO’s new guide to planning healthy and sustainable meetings

“We somehow consider meetings to be an exception to the general healthy lifestyle we try to follow,” says Dr João Breda, Head of the WHO European Office for the Prevention and Control of Noncommunicable Diseases and Programme Manager ad interim of Nutrition, Physical Activity and Obesity at WHO/Europe. “But this is mostly because the way they are organised often doesn’t give us much of a choice. Making meetings healthier does not have to be complicated or expensive – and often makes them more enjoyable.”

To read WHO’s guide on planning healthy and sustainable meetings go to: WHO/Europe | Obesity – Spending hours sitting in meetings? Consult WHO’s new guide to planning healthy and sustainable meetings

Health risks of Light Emitting Diodes (LEDs) 

The EU Scientific Committee has concluded that there is no evidence of direct adverse health effects from LEDs in normal use by the general population. Cellular and animal studies showing adverse effects appeared to be conducted under exposure conditions that were difficult to relate to human exposures or used exposure levels in excess of internationally agreed exposure limits.

There is a low level of evidence that exposure to light in the late evening, including that from LED lighting and/or screens, may have an impact on the circadian rhythm. At the moment, it is not yet clear if this disturbance of the circadian system leads to adverse health effects. Children have a higher sensitivity to blue light and although emissions may not be harmful, blue LEDs (between 400 nm and 500 nm) including those in toys may be very dazzling and may induce photochemical retinopathy, which is a concern especially for children below three years of age. Older people may experience discomfort from exposure to light that is rich in blue light.

To read more about this on the European Commission website go to: Final Opinion on Light Emitting Diodes (LEDs) – European Commission

ECDC launches preparedness self-assessment tool

A new ECDC self-assessment tool facilitates the evaluation of the levels of preparedness and contributes to identification of potential gaps. It also facilitates interactions among stakeholders to discuss themes related to public health emergency preparedness. Based on the outcomes of the self-assessment, areas for improvement can be identified and actions can be taken by the countries in order to strengthen capacities.

The HEPSA tool is worksheet-based and is targeted at professionals in public health organisations responsible for emergency planning and event management. It consists of seven domains that define the process of public health emergency preparedness and response: 1) Pre-event preparations and governance; 2) Resources: Trained workforce; 3) Support capacity: Surveillance; 4) Support capacity: Risk assessment; 5) Event response management; 6) Post-event review; 7) Implementation of lessons learned. The tool is complemented by a user guide and an evaluation form.

To read more about this tool go to: ECDC launches preparedness self-assessment tool

EU healthy gateways

The HEALTHY GATEWAYS Joint Action will produce guidelines, catalogues of best practices and action plans to be implemented by Member State health authorities at operational level in the field of transport, covering all types of health threats, risk communication, advice for public health event management and contingency planning. The action will also support rapid exchange of information in the event of cross-border health risks, using electronic means via established communication networks for points of entry.  Online and face-to-face training on contingency planning and management of events at points of entry will be provided at the European, national and local level, while the Joint Action will also support the execution of hygiene inspections on ships and airplanes.

To read more about this on the European Commission website go to:



Promoting mental health in the workplace

25% of European citizens will experience a mental health problem in their lifetime. Absenteeism, unemployment and long-term disability claims due to work-related stress and mental health problems are increasing. Promoting good mental health at the workplace, not only helps protect employee’s mental and physical health and wellbeing, but also makes good business sense. A new European Commission document provides guidance for employers, employees and other stakeholders on the management of mental health issues in the workplace

To read the document go to: Publications catalogue – Employment, Social Affairs & Inclusion – European Commission

A new report reveals need for more humane, personalised approach to Mental Health

WHO/Europe has released a new report entitled “Mental health, human rights and standards of care”. It assesses the quality of institutional care for adults with psychosocial and intellectual disabilities in the WHO European Region.

A total of 75 institutions across 24 countries in the Region and Kosovo (in accordance with United Nations Security Council resolution 1244 [1999]) were assessed using the WHO QualityRights Toolkit. Out of all the quality ratings made, only 25% showed compliance with international standards, meaning that long-term institutional care in the Region has significant room for improvement.

To read the new report in full go to: WHO/Europe | Mental health – New report reveals need for more humane, personalized approach in European Region’s long-term institutions for adults with intellectual and psychosocial disabilities

Heat stress deaths avoidable by adhering to Paris Agreement climate goal

Compelling new evidence from the University of Bristol, UK, has found that the number of deaths caused by heat stress could be limited if Europe adhered to the Paris Agreement climate goals.

According to the paper published in the Nature Climate Change journal, mortality due to heat stress could be significantly reduced by 15-22% per summer in London, UK, and Paris, France, if we can stabilise climate at the lower of the Paris climate goals, 1.5oC, as compared with the higher temperature goal.

Currently, around 10% of summers in London are free of any heat-related mortality, but this research has revealed that future climate change will result in all summers going forward to have some heat-related death.

Source: Heat stress deaths avoidable by adhering to Paris Agreement climate goal

Post-Brexit EHIC cards: Will they be invalid post-2019?

With Brexit negotiations continuing. Hundreds of questions are being raised.

Travel industry experts have raised concerns regarding a number of issues such as visa controls and open sky agreements. Ryanair’s Michael O’Leary has been vocal in his concerns that planes could even be grounded if an agreement is not made. However another aspect to cause concern is the continuation of the EHIC card, which provides free emergency care to people in the EU and affects 27 million Britons.

Could Britons be left stranded abroad without urgent health care?

The Lords EU committee report in March stated: “In the absence of an agreement on future relations that covers this topic, the rights to reciprocal healthcare currently enjoyed by 27 million UK citizens, thanks to the EHIC, will cease after Brexit.”

Yet there is another way in which the UK could be included, by looking at countries outside of the EU which are still allowed to reap the benefits.

Source: Post-Brexit EHIC cards: Will they be invalid post-2019? | Travel News | Travel |

Bad Habits that Lead to Cancer

Spending too much time in front of screens, getting little exercise and eating a diet high in fat and low in fruits and vegetables.

A new Northwestern Medicine study found that a lifestyle intervention could fully normalise these four unhealthy behaviours, which put people at risk of developing heart disease and common cancers, including breast, colon and prostate.

The study was published in the Journal of Medical Internet Research on the 19th of June.

“Our findings suggest that prevention of chronic disease through behaviour change is feasible. They contradict the pessimistic assumption that it’s not possible to motivate relatively healthy people to make large, long-lasting healthy lifestyle changes,” said lead author Bonnie Spring, director of the Center for Behaviour and Health in the Institute for Public Health and Medicine and professor of preventive medicine at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine.

Source: Bad Habits that Lead to Cancer, Chronic Disease Corrected by mHealth Intervention