Living kidney donations

Members of the EU, including the UK, have worked together to produce a Reference Toolkit for all Member States concerning living organ donation for the purpose of transplantation.
It sets out, and describes, the Core Principles for the establishment, organisation and oversight of living donor transplantation, gives examples of good practice, and contains an extensive list of references to other relevant
documents.
This tool box on living kidney donation and transplantation is intended to help Member States establish or optimise
their living donor programmes, by reviewing the key aspects of living kidney donation and transplantation.
Although the toolbox focuses on kidney donation, the principles apply to the living donation of other organs, although naturally the details may vary due to organ specific factors and considerations.
To download the Reference Toolkit from the ec.europa.eu website

Improving air quality

Air pollution is the cause of death for more than 400,000 people every year. According to the WHO it is a risk factor for heart disease, stroke, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), asthma and cancer. Increasingly, poor air quality leads to a significant worsening of the health of Europeans, resulting in costly consequences for the European Union – between €330 billion and €940 billion in 2010 alone.

The European Parliament has passed the National Emissions Ceilings (NEC) Directive, which sets out national limits on a range of air pollutants, including methane and ammonia. However, it excluded mercury and farm emissions which, according to the European Public Health Association, means it has missed the opportunity to achieve the air quality standards recommended by the World Health Organisation.

For more information about the Directive from the epha.org website.

Health at a glance 2015

According to this report, pharmaceutical spending reached around USD 800 billion across OECD countries in 2013, which is about 20% of total health spending on average.

It also believes that health care is improving too slowly to meet the rising strains of chronic diseases. Through the most recent comparable data on the performance of health systems in OECD countries and a new set of dashboards, Health at a Glance 2015 shows that all countries have wide scope for improving the quality of health care and tackling unhealthy lifestyles. This edition includes a special focus on the pharmaceutical sector, chapters on health care resources, health expenditure and outcomes as well as new indicators on health workforce migration.

To read the full report on the oecd.org website

Multi-morbidity

There are already an estimated 50 million people in the EU suffering from two or more long-term conditions and by 2020, when a quarter of Europeans will be over 60 years of age, multi-morbidity is likely to be the norm rather than the exception.

Multi-morbidity has significant implications for the economy, labour market, social security and healthcare systems and the quality of life for citizens. A paradigm shift is needed – away from a disease-oriented approach to a patient-oriented one if this issue is to be properly addressed.

A recent conference explored the priorities for a European policy on multi-morbidity. To read about the highlights and conclusions, click here on the ec.Europa.eu website

Cardiovascular Disease and Diabetes: Policies for Better Health and Quality of Care

The last 50 years have witnessed remarkable improvements in CVD outcomes. Since 1960, overall CVD mortality rates have fallen by over 60%, but these improvements are not evenly spread across OECD countries, and the rising prevalence of diabetes and obesity are threatening to offset gains. This report examines how countries perform in their ability to prevent, manage and treat cardiovascular disease (CVD) and diabetes.

To read the report online, click here on www.oecd.org

Viral hepatitis—400 deaths a day in Europe

Over 13 million people in the WHO European Region are living with chronic hepatitis B infection and over 15 million with chronic hepatitis C infection. Between them, these two diseases lead to 400 deaths in the Region every day. Many cases of viral hepatitis remain asymptomatic until decades after infection, slowly destroying the liver and eventually presenting as grave and deadly complications such as liver cirrhosis, liver cancer and liver failure.

In most countries in the Region, the majority (in some countries, more than 75%) of people living with viral hepatitis do not know about their infection. Many became infected through blood transfusion or other medical procedures years ago when no tests were available and more than 20% will develop liver cirrhosis or cancer if the diseases are not diagnosed in time.

Several vulnerable population groups, particularly people who inject drugs, are at greatest risk of becoming infected. However, everyone is potentially at risk, because unsafe injections and other invasive procedures that can expose individuals to hepatitis C and hepatitis B viruses within and outside the health care sector still occur.

Even though blood safety and safe injecting practices in health care settings have improved in recent years, the hepatitis viruses continue to spread. In the past, viral hepatitis received little attention from policy-makers. Most countries have been reluctant to address viral hepatitis, such as ensuring access to treatment and prevention to all who need them and reducing the costs of drugs and diagnostics. Sexual transmission of viral hepatitis B is an ongoing issue, although universal vaccination to prevent this disease has been in place for over 20 years in most countries. Vaccination of newborns is the most effective, safest way to prevent mother-to-child transmission of viral hepatitis B, and the vaccine provides protection from the infection throughout life.

As transmission of hepatitis C and B viruses through blood and unsafe injection practices continues in the Region, there should be scaled-up prevention programmes for vulnerable groups based on evidence-based interventions, such as harm reduction for people who inject drugs and equal access to services and treatment. Recent revolutionary treatments for chronic hepatitis C have made it possible to cure more than 90% of infected people in just 3 months, without the severe adverse effects often seen with previous treatment regimens. Unfortunately new treatments are still unacceptably expensive and political will from both government and civil society organizations is needed to improve access to treatment and to ensure affordable prices.

WHO is working on a global strategy to combat viral hepatitis, which will include a comprehensive package of prevention measures and call for better access to treatment and better global awareness about viral hepatitis, the so-called “silent killer”.

To download a factsheet on Hepatitis B, click here    on www.euro.who.int

To download a factsheet on Hepatitis C, click here on www.euro.who.int

Reducing the burden of chronic diseases

While much has been done in terms of health promotion and primary prevention of chronic diseases across Europe, there are still gaps and needs that require urgent attention, according to a new report from the Joint Action on Addressing Chronic Diseases and Healthy Ageing across the Life Cycle (JA-CHRODIS). The report provides a comparative overview of key policies and approaches used to promote health and prevent chronic diseases across 14 European countries.

To read the full report, click here on www.chrodis.eu

Patient Empowerment

The EMPATiE project has analysed patient empowerment (PE) for patients with chronic diseases. It has produced a catalogue of best practices in PE, an analysis of barriers to PE, suggestions on how best to transfer good practices between countries and suggestions for EU collaboration on PE over the next decade.

To download the final report, click here on http://ec.europa.eu

Psychosocial factors linked to chronic diseases

This report summarizes the best available evidence for a link between psychosocial factors and morbidity and mortality from cardiovascular diseases and cancer in Europe. The psychosocial factors repeatedly identified as related to chronic diseases include high job demand, low autonomy, low control or high effort-reward   imbalance, interpersonal conflicts and low social support or low trust. Psychosocial factors might therefore become part of complex total risk-reducing interventions focusing on multiple risk factors.

To download the report, click here on www.euro.who.int