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

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

TV and internet marketing to children

The WHO have produced a protocol “Monitoring food and beverage marketing to children via television and the Internet” to help countries in the European Region gather data in a way that will support policy changes.
Most data on the prevalence of food and beverage marketing come from high-income, English-speaking countries,
specifically Australia, New Zealand, the UK and the USA. They show that the marketing of HFSS foods (high in saturated fats, salt and/or sugar) to children is highly prevalent, actively uses persuasive techniques likely to appeal to children and is present across multiple media, including broadcast television and social media online.
Continued monitoring is needed in these countries, to ensure that up-to-date evidence is available to inform and strengthen policy and that policies are adequately evaluated.
More data are urgently needed from other countries, however, to support the domestic policy-making process and to build a more representative global picture of food-marketing activity.
Studies conducted in accordance with this protocol will interest policy-makers, academic researchers, public health
practitioners and advocacy groups in the WHO European Region and worldwide.
To download the protocol on Monitoring food and beverage marketing to children from the euro.who.int website

Breast implants

The European Commission and its Scientific Committee on Health, Environmental and Emerging Risks (SCHEER) has published two Scientific Advices related to breast implants and health. They are on 1) new scientific information on the safety of PIP breast implants and 2) the possible association between breast implants and anaplastic large cell lymphoma (ALCL).

The first piece of advice concerns whether there is sufficient new scientific information on the safety of PIP breast implants to warrant an update of the 2014 SCENIHR Opinion and based on the scientific information it has gathered and evaluated, the SCHEER concludes that this is not the case at present.

The second piece of advice is on the state of scientific knowledge on a possible association between breast implants and anaplastic large cell lymphoma (ALCL). The SCHEER concluded that, at present, there is insufficient scientific information available to establish a methodologically robust risk assessment on the potential association of breast implants with the development of ALCL.

To download the full advice on the safety of PIP breast implants from the ec.europa.eu website

To download the full advice on the association between breast implants and ALCL from the ec.europa.eu website

Patient blood management

A 5-year Patient Blood Management (PBM) programme in Western Australia resulted in a 28% reduction in hospital mortality, a 15% reduction in average hospital length of stay, a 21% reduction in hospital-acquired infections and a 31% decrease in heart attack or stroke. There was also a 41% reduction in the use of blood products, leading to a substantial cost saving as well.

PBM is a patient-focused, evidence-based and systemic approach to improve patient outcomes through the safe and rational use of blood and blood products and avoiding unnecessary transfusions. Essential elements of PBM include:

  • preventing conditions that might result in the need for transfusion
  • appropriate diagnosis
  • good surgical and anaesthetic techniques
  • the use of alternatives to blood transfusion and blood conservation.

The PBM approach has been endorsed and promoted by the WHO and is widely accepted as current best practice.

The EU has recently published two guides on Patient Blood Management (PBM), one for authorities and the other for hospitals.

To download the two guides on Patient Blood Management from the ec.europa.eu website

Cross-border collaboration in public procurement

This report ‘How can voluntary cross-border collaboration in public procurement improve access to health technologies in Europe?’ examines the legal framework put in place by the EU to foster voluntary cross-border collaboration in the field of public procurement of health technologies. It looks at recent experiences and developments in cross-border collaboration across Europe and explores the challenges and opportunities that such cross-border collaboration present.

To download the report on cross-border collaboration in public procurement from the euro.who.int website

Strategic investments for the future of healthcare

National health systems in the EU face common challenges: ageing populations and a rise of chronic diseases leading to growing demand for healthcare; shortages and uneven distribution of health professionals etc. Furthermore, (public) financial resources available for health are constrained. Today’s health systems are in need of reforms to
tackle these challenges. New care models, which support a shift from hospital-centred to more community and integrated care approaches, are a crucial part of the reforms to improve the efficiency and sustainability of health systems.
Earlier in 2017, the Commission, in cooperation with the European Investment Bank (EIB), held a seminar to discuss new forms of investment for innovative forms of healthcare. Over 100 delegates participated in the event, from the public and private sectors: Member States authorities, healthcare managers and service providers, as well as investors active or interested in the health sector.
This led to the report ‘Strategic investments for the future of healthcare’ which details the investment plan for health within the EU.
Download Strategic investments for the future of healthcare from the ec.europa.eu website

Assessing integrated care in Europe

The EU’s expert group on health systems’ performance assessment has produced a report ‘Blocks: tools and methodologies to assess integrated care in Europe’.

They did so for two main reasons, firstly, at this stage of technological development and with current demographic patterns, we cannot rely on homogeneous, top-down healthcare solutions. Secondly, every patient is different and we need to develop patient-centred care tailored to individual needs and which allows them to be involved in their own care.
They have measured both the degree of integration of care and the performance of integrated care systems.
To download the report on Integrated care from the ec.europa.eu website

Good practices in mental health and wellbeing

Mental disorders place a tremendous burden on the well-being and health of European citizens. They are a leading contributor to the burden of disease in the European Union, and approximately 38.2% of EU citizens across all age groups are affected by a mental disorder each year.
Sharing information on good practices implemented in various settings can help stimulate investment in mental health, and collaborating efforts across EU in designing and implementing such activities in a more effective and
efficient manner.
To download this report on Good practices in mental health and wellbeing from the ec.europa.eu website