Effective cancer control saves lives, money and time

A new Guide available online gives recommendations on how to boost cancer control in Europe. The Guide is the result of a three-year effort by top experts in 25 countries and 126 partner organisations. They have been working together in an EU co-funded joint action, known as Cancon (officially titled European Guide on Quality Improvement in Comprehensive Cancer Control Guide).

The Guide’s authors stress that besides saving money and time, effective cancer control increases quality of life. Currently some 2.6 million people in Europe are diagnosed with cancer annually. But more and more cancer patients are overcoming the disease. Therefore greater attention needs to be given to access to care, early diagnosis, rehabilitation, and survivorship.

For more information and to download the Guide to effective cancer control from the cancercontrol.eu website

Depression

The WHO have updated their factsheet on depression which includes the following facts:

  • Depression is the leading cause of disability worldwide, with more than 300 million sufferers of all ages, and it is a major contributor to the overall global burden of disease.
  • At its worst depression can lead to suicide, and nearly 800,000 people commit suicide every year. It is the second leading cause of death in 15-29-year-olds.
  • There are effective treatments for depression although fewer than half of sufferers receive any treatment at all.

For more information and to download the factsheet on depression on the who.int website

Guide to cancer early diagnosis

Detecting cancer early can effectively reduce the mortality associated with cancer. In resource-poor settings, cancer is often diagnosed at a late-stage of disease resulting in lower survival and potentially greater morbidity and higher costs of treatment. Even in countries with strong health systems and services, many cancer cases are diagnosed at a late-stage. Addressing delays in cancer diagnosis and inaccessible treatment is therefore critical in all settings for cancer control.

This WHO Guide to cancer early diagnosis aims to help policy-makers and programme managers facilitate timely diagnosis and improve access to cancer treatment for all.

To download the WHO Guide to cancer early diagnosis from the who.int website

New school food guidelines aim for pleasant, sustainable dining

Health and education authorities in Finland have issued new guidelines for school food for the first time in a decade. They’re aimed at making lunches more nutritious – and more appealing to youngsters.

The new recommendations call for more emphasis on dining as a calm, pleasant communal experience and on the sustainability of food. This means more serious vegetarian alternatives, as well as more fish and “less red meat, more vegetables, fruit and berries”.

According to the new guidelines, pupils should be allowed at least half an hour to eat, and lunch should be served between around 11 am and noon. Since many schools’ cafeterias may be too cramped for comfortable eating, it is also suggested that schools could experiment with having pupils eat together in their own classrooms, for instance.

For more information about Finland’s new school food guidelines on the yle.fi website

Hospital resilience in emergencies

The Hospital Safety Index is a rapid, reliable way of assessing risk in the health sector. It helps health facilities manage their safety and avoid becoming casualties of disasters. Through it, WHO/Europe has strengthened support to national authorities to build the resilience of health facilities in emergencies.

118 hospitals in 7 countries in the WHO European Region were assessed using the WHO Hospital Safety Index tool in 2015 & 2016. Altogether, 93 experts – including doctors, civil and maintenance engineers and emergency planning experts – from 14 European and 6 non-European countries were trained.

To read more and download the Hospital Safety Index from the euro.who.int website

Global Action Plan to Prevent & Control NCDs

Noncommunicable diseases (NCDs) – mainly cardiovascular diseases, cancers, chronic respiratory diseases and diabetes – are the biggest cause of death worldwide. More than 36 million die annually from NCDs (63% of global deaths), including 14 million people who die too young before the age of 70. More than 90% of these premature deaths from NCDs occur in low- and middle-income countries, and could have largely been prevented. Most premature deaths are linked to common risk factors, namely tobacco use, unhealthy diet, physical inactivity and harmful use of alcohol.

The World Health Organisation has launched a Global Action Plan for the Prevention and Control of Non-Communicable Diseases, which provides a road map and menu of policy options for countries, intergovernmental organisations, NGOs and the private sector. If these are implemented by 2020, a number of global targets will be reached, including a 25% reduction in premature mortality from NCDs by 2025.

For more information about the Action Plan to prevent NCDs on the who.int website

10 facts on physical activity

A lack of physical activity is a significant risk factor for noncommunicable diseases (NCDs) such as stroke, diabetes, and cancer. Less and less physical activity is occurring in many countries – globally, 23% of adults and 81% school-going adolescents are not active enough.

WHO have identified 10 facts about physical activity, including:

  • it reduces the risk of disease
  • it helps maintain a healthy body
  • it’s not the same as sport
  • 60 minutes a day for 5-17 year olds
  • 150 minutes a week for 18-64 year olds
  • Some physical activity is better than none

To see the full list and associated images on physical activity on the who.int website

Pilot projects on nutrition and physical activity

A pilot project or preparatory action is an initiative of an experimental nature designed to test the feasibility and usefulness of action. It is meant to try different approaches, develop evidence-based strategies to address a problem, identify good practices, and provide policy guidance for the benefit of possible future initiatives in a particular area of health and welfare.

A number of pilot projects have been funded by the EU that explore different approaches to nutrition and physical activity and these are now available for others to learn from.

For more information about pilot projects on nutrition and physical activity on the ec.europa.eu website

Tackling Wasteful Spending on Health

Following a brief pause after the economic crisis, health expenditure is rising again in most OECD countries, yet a considerable part of this health expenditure makes little or no contribution to improving people’s health. In some cases, it even results in worse health outcomes. S0, as this report points out, countries could potentially spend significantly less on health care with no impact on health system performance, or on health outcomes. The report ‘Tackling Wasteful Spending on Health‘ reviews strategies put in place by countries to limit ineffective spending and waste.

To find out more about the report on Tackling Wasteful Spending on Health on the keepeek.com website

New approach needed to tackle rising drug prices

The proliferation of high-cost medicines and rising drug prices are increasing pressures on public health spending and calling into question the pharmaceutical industry’s pricing strategies.

According to a new report from the OECD, ‘ New Health Technologies: Managing Access, Value and Sustainability’, pharmaceutical spending is increasingly skewed towards high-cost products. The launch prices of drugs for cancer and rare diseases are rising, sometimes without a commensurate increase in health benefits for patients. For instance in the United States the launch price of oncology drugs per life-year gained has been multiplied by four in less than 20 years and now exceeds $200,000.

For more information on Pharmaceutical Price Rises on the oecd.org website