Planning cities to boost physical activity

A new publication from WHO/Europe is offering guiding principles for the WHO European Region to move towards increased physical activity in urban settings by transforming public spaces in ways that promote physically active lifestyles.

With more than 80% of the European population expected to live in urban areas by 2030, cities have a pivotal role to play in promoting and protecting health and well-being. Governments across the Region have recognised the need to prioritise physical activity, in particular in the context of cities. Answering the call of this strong political mandate, the new report explores options and strategies to boost physical activity in cities and advocates urban planning as a means to prevent physical inactivity.

To read more about this initiative on the WHO Europe website go to: WHO/Europe | Planning cities to boost physical activity

Mapping the sources and level of air pollution in Europe

At the Clean Air Forum in Paris the Commission and the EU Environment Agency launched a new Air Quality Index, which allows citizens to monitor air quality in real time. The Commission also published an Air Quality Atlas, a tool developed by the Commission’s Joint Research Centre that maps the origins of fine particulate matter, such as dust, smoke, soot, pollen and soil particles, in EU cities.

The Air Quality Index and the European Air Quality Atlas are two tools that will help to pave the way for targeted measures to improve air quality and raise citizens’ awareness of the air quality situation in Europe. Each year, over 400 000 citizens die prematurely in the EU as a result of poor air quality, more than ten times the number of deaths by road traffic accidents. Millions more suffer from respiratory and cardiovascular diseases caused by air pollution.

To read more about the Clean Air Forum and to access the Air Quality Index and Atlas go to: European Commission – PRESS RELEASES – Press release – Mapping the sources and level of air pollution in Europe: Commission publishes new Air Quality Index and Atlas

Database of experts in the field of health

Application for inclusion in the database to support the Expert Panel on effective ways of investing in health

The European Commission has published the above-mentioned call addressed to experts who wish to be included in the database from which individuals are chosen to support the work of the Expert Panel on Health. These experts will be included in a database according to their field of expertise and knowledge.  They will be called only if/when the members of the Expert Panel would request specific expertise and support, and therefore inclusion in the database offers no guarantees of being contacted by the Commission.

To read more and to download the application form on the European Commission website go to: Database of Experts – European Commission

Reducing health inequalities experienced by LGBTI people

A pilot project aiming to reduce health inequalities experienced by LGBTI people will increase our understanding of how best to reduce these specific health inequalities experienced by lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgendered and intersex (LGBTI) people, focussing in particular on overlapping inequalities stemming from discrimination and unfair treatment on other grounds (e.g. older, younger, refugee, immigrant, disability, rural, poverty).

The project will explore the particular health needs and challenges faced by LGBTI people and analyse the key barriers faced by health professionals when providing care for LGBTI people. The aim is to raise awareness of the challenges and provide European health professionals with the tools that give them the right skills and knowledge to overcome these barriers and contribute to the reduction of health inequalities.

To read more about the project go to: Pilot projects funded by the European Parliament – European Commission

State of children’s medicines in the EU

The European Commission had presented a report to the European Parliament and the Council, on progress made in children’s medicines since the Paediatric Regulation came into force 10 years ago. It concludes that positive advances in the development of medicines for children could not have been achieved without specific EU legislation – e.g. the authorisation of 260 new medicines. The Paediatric Regulation also gives a good return on investment. However, the report acknowledges that more effort is needed to combine the effects of the Paediatric with those of the Orphan medicines Regulation to address shortcomings in treating rare diseases in children.

Commenting on the report, VytenisAndriukaitis, Commissioner for Health and Food Safety, said: “Whereas I am pleased with the overall progress made in improving children’s access to safe, tailored medicines, I am committed to extending these positive gains to children with rare diseases. When we consider the advances in adult oncology, it upsets me deeply that we have not made the same progress in treating the cancers that affect children. In the next 10 years we must focus on making similar breakthroughs for children, by combining the incentives under the Orphans and the Paediatric Regulations, and by ensuring that the European Reference Networks – in particular ‘ERN PaedCan’ on paediatric cancer, reach full capacity”.

To read more about this on the European Commission website go to: http://europa.eu/rapid/press-release_IP-17-4121_en.htm

The eHealth journey in Latvia

In a journey that started over a decade ago, the Ministry of Health of Latvia demonstrated its commitment to achieving universal health coverage by creating a national programme of electronic health (eHealth). This has been a key element of ensuring that Latvian people receive the right care in the right place and at the right time.

In the past, concerns such as data privacy and confidentiality were a barrier to converting Latvia’s fragmented, paper-based system into a modern, efficient and accessible eHealth system. Now, several comprehensive improvements, aided by technical support from the WHO Country Office in Latvia, have helped the eHealth system reach a high level of reliability and acceptance.

To read more about Latvia’s eHealth journey on the WHO website go to: WHO/Europe | The eHealth journey in Latvia

European Antibiotic Awareness Day 2017

The European Antibiotic Awareness Day is an annual European public health initiative that took place on 18 November to raise awareness about the threat to public health of antibiotic resistance and the importance of prudent antibiotic use. The latest data confirms that across the European Union the number of patients infected by resistant bacteria is increasing and that antibiotic resistance is a major threat to public health.

Prudent use of antibiotics can help stop resistant bacteria from developing and help keep antibiotics effective for the use of future generations.

To read more about the European Antibiotic Awareness Day on the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control website go to: https://ecdc.europa.eu/en/news-events/european-antibiotic-awareness-day-2017

 

EU-US mutual recognition of inspections of medicines manufacturers

The start of the month the coming into operation of further aspects of the mutual recognition agreement between the European Union and the United States to recognise inspections of manufacturing sites for human medicines conducted in their respective territories. This agreement, which updates the agreement from 1998, allows for recognition of each other’s inspection outcomes and hence for better use of inspection expertise and resources.

In June, the European Commission confirmed that the US Food and Drug Administration has the capability, capacity and procedures in place to carry out good manufacturing practice inspections at a level equivalent to the EU. Today, the FDA confirmed the capability of eight EU Member States (Austria, Croatia, France, Italy, Malta, Spain, Sweden, and United Kingdom). The remaining inspectorates will continue to be assessed until 15 July 2019.

To read more about this mutual recognition go to the EMA website: European Medicines Agency – News and Events – EU-US mutual recognition of inspections of medicines manufacturers enters operational phase

Assessing progress on reduction of antimicrobial resistance and antimicrobial consumption

A set of indicators will assist European Union  Member States to assess their progress in reducing the use of antimicrobials and combatting antimicrobial resistance. These indicators have been established by the European Food Safety Authority, the European Medicines Agency and the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control, following a request from the European Commission.

The indicators address both the human and animal sectors and they reflect antimicrobial consumption and antimicrobial resistance in the community, in hospitals and in food-producing animals. The indicators are based on data already gathered through existing EU monitoring networks.

To read more about this go to the European Medicines Agency website: http://www.ema.europa.eu/ema/index.jsp?curl=pages/news_and_events/news/2017/10/news_detail_002833.jsp&mid=WC0b01ac058004d5c1

 

Advanced therapy medicinal products

Advanced therapy medicinal products are new medical products based on genes (gene therapy), cells (cell therapy) and tissues (tissue engineering). These advanced therapies herald revolutionary treatments of a number of diseases or injuries, such as skin in burns victims, Alzheimer’s, cancer or muscular dystrophy. They have huge potential for patients and industry.

The lack of an EU-wide regulatory framework in the past led to divergent national approaches which hindered patients’ access to products, hampered the growth of this emerging industry and ultimately affected EU competitiveness in a key biotechnology area.

The EU institutions agreed on a Regulation on advanced therapies (Regulation (EC) 1394/2007) designed to ensure the free movement of advanced therapy products within Europe, to facilitate access to the EU market and to foster the competitiveness of European companies in the field, while guaranteeing the highest level of health protection for patients.

To read more about advanced therapy medicinal products on the European Commission website go to: Advanced therapies – European Commission