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

Depression – Let’s talk

World Health Day is celebrated on 7 April every year to mark the anniversary of the founding of the World Health Organization and it provides a unique opportunity to mobilize action around a specific health topic of concern to people all over the world.

The theme of the 2017 World Health Day campaign is depression, which can affect people of all ages, from all walks of life, in all countries. At worst, it can lead to suicide, now the second leading cause of death among 15-29-year olds. The campaign is paying particular attention to three groups that are disproportionately affected:

  • adolescents and young adults
  • women of childbearing age (particularly following childbirth)
  • adults over 60

Materials targeting these audiences are available in the campaign materials.

For more information about the campaign – Depression, let’s talk – on the who.int website

Health Policy Journal

Health Policy is a journal produced by the European Observatory on Health Systems and Policies. It is intended to enable a wide discussion of health policy issues and is aimed in particular at improving communication between health policy researchers, legislators, decision-makers and professionals concerned with developing, implementing and analysing health policy.

For more information about Health Policy and to download previous issues on the hspm.org website

UN European coalition on health

The UN European coalition on health is a coordination mechanism focusing on the achievement of Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 3 – to ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages – in the pan-European Region, and of the health-related targets present in other SDGs.

At its initial meeting in 2016 the coalition identified four key workstreams to focus on:

  1. health throughout the life-course, with a focus on maternal and child health (contributing to SDG 3, 4, 5, 16);
  2. communicable diseases, with a focus on HIV and tuberculosis (contributing to SDG 3, 1, 6);
  3. universal health coverage, with a focus on medicines (contributing to SDG 3, 1, 5);
  4. migration, including aspects of emergencies (contributing to SDG 3, 1, 10, 11, 13).

For more information about the UN European coalition on health on the euro.who.int website

Tobacco Control Playbook counters aggressive tobacco industry tactics

The tobacco industry has become more focused, aggressive and sophisticated in its efforts to block tobacco control measures. However, no single source has yet provided the resources to understand how governments and the public health community can respond to the arguments of tobacco industry players. In light of this, WHO/Europe has developed the Tobacco Control Playbook, an online tool that counters common tobacco myths.

The Playbook is intended to be a living resource, regularly updated and extended with further arguments and on the basis of feedback. It will also be adjusted and expanded to take into account any new developments in tobacco industry approaches. Everyone concerned with tobacco control is invited to contribute to the Playbook’s success by continuing to offer arguments and responses, and by sharing their experiences of using the Playbook. Please send input to eurotobaccofree@who.int.

Download the Tobacco Control Playbook from the euro.who.int website

Guidance on endocrine disruptors

The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) and the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) are developing scientific guidance to enable identification of endocrine disruptors.

In 2016 the European Commission proposed science-based criteria for identifying endocrine disruptors in the context of EU legislation on pesticides and biocides. Discussions with Member States and experts are on-going and the criteria are expected to enter into force in 2017.

EFSA and ECHA, supported by the Commission’s Joint Research Centre, will produce an outline of the guidance that will be published and will provide information on the drafting and endorsement processes.

For more information on endocrine disruptors on the efsa.europa.eu website