European Union history in the making with legalising medical cannabis

Laying the groundwork for legalising medical cannabis, the European Union is beginning to outline a harmonised set of laws across Europe.

Medical cannabis is inching its way into the European Union agenda as legislators prepare to funnel cash into research of the drug and begin laying the groundwork for a harmonised set of laws across Europe. In late 2018, health committee politicians in the European Parliament, voted to approve a draft resolution on the use of cannabis for medicinal purposes, and now the proposals are going to become a concrete motion.

To read more about this go to: European Union history in the making with legalising medical cannabis

One step closer to digitalise children’s vaccination status on a European level

The ‘Digital health policies for Children’s Health’ workshop was about strengthening children’s immunisation in Europe through health data standards and about connecting patient summaries to EU vaccination cards and immunisation registries.
Immunisation information of children could be vital in emergency situations, to determine the level of immunity of a child who has been exposed to an infection risk, such as tetanus or meningitis. It can also be useful for the care professional to advise a child or parent if the child is due for a vaccine or booster or has fallen behind schedule.
This fits within the context of both the European Union and the World Health Organisation (WHO) seeking to drive higher child immunisation uptake, and effective holistic child health care.

To read more about this on the European Commission website go to: One step closer to digitalise children’s vaccination status on a European level – European Commission

The state of health in the EU

Every two years, the OECD prepares an assessment of the state of health in the EU for the European Commission. The latest report has been published and includes statistical indicators for 35 European countries, as well as two cross-cutting chapters on EU political priorities: promoting mental health and reducing inefficient spending. The report shows stalled increase in life expectancy in many EU Member States, marked by persistent and large inequalities in health gains.

Since a steady 2-3 year life expectancy increase between 2001-2011, improvements slowed down to just half a year between 2011-2016. The progress is slower in the Western European countries. People with a low level of education can expect to live six years less than those with a high level of education. “These gaps largely reflect differences in exposure to risk factors, but also indicate disparities in access to care.” In 2017, health spending accounted for 9.6% of GDP in the EU as a whole, up from 8.8% in 2008 but slightly down from the latest estimates of 9.9%. After years of cuts in healthcare budget devoted to prevention (with a post-economic crisis dip 2008-2012), between 2012-2016, an average of 2.5% of total health expenditure was spent on preventive measures. It is still way below the 2004-2008 levels of 4.7%.

Evidence is presented for strengthening prevention and health promotion measures; prioritising effective and people-centered health systems; improving access to health care; and building more resilient health systems.

To read more about this on the European Commission website, go to: https://ec.europa.eu/health/state/glance_en

 

Antimicrobial resistance

The latest Euro-barometer study shows that there has been a positive evolution in the use of antibiotics: 32% of people said they had taken antibiotics in the last twelve months, compared to 40% in the 2009 survey. However, many of these antibiotics were taken unnecessarily: 20% of  antibiotics were taken for flu or a cold and 7% took them without a medical prescription. 66% of the respondents know that antibiotics are of no use against colds, and 43% are aware that antibiotics are ineffective against viruses. Over two thirds of people would like to have more information about antibiotics.

An important milestone will be the forthcoming European legislation on veterinary medicines and medicated feed, which lays down a wide range of concrete measures to fight antimicrobial resistance and to promote the prudent and responsible use of antimicrobials. As of 2022 in the EU, the use of antimicrobials for growth promotion in animals will be prohibited, as well as the preventive use of antimicrobials via medicated feed and in groups of animals. There will also be restrictions on metaphylactic use of antimicrobials, and the possibility to reserve certain antimicrobials for human use only. In addition, for their exports into the EU, non-EU countries will have to respect the ban on antimicrobials for growth promotion, as well as the restrictions on antimicrobials reserved for human use. The new EU regulations will thereby improve the protection of European consumers against the risk of spread of antimicrobial resistance through imports of animals or of products of animal origin

Source: http://europa.eu/rapid/press-release_IP-18-6405_en.htm

EU Health Award for NGOs 

The 2018 EU Health Award for NGOs Working to Prevent Tobacco Use has now closed. The first prize of €20,000 was awarded to the Irish Cancer Society for the innovative social dimension of their campaign, the peer-to-peer approach, tackling also vulnerable groups in their “X-HALE Youth Smoking Prevention Programme”. The second prize of €15,000 was awarded to “Education Against Tobacco” from Germany for a well-structured and well-studied initiative in the form of a multinational network driven by over 3,500 volunteering medical students and physicians from 82 medical schools located in 14 countries worldwide. The third prize of €10,000 was awarded to the “Youth Network No Excuse” from Slovenia for their strong policy and advocacy component and young leadership which included an educational training programme for their activists to become active citizens, by raising awareness in primary and secondary schools, engaging in research activities, and advocating for stronger tobacco-control legislation. 

To read more about the award go to : EU Health Award for NGOs 2018 – European Commission

Sales of antibiotics for use in food-producing animals drop across the EU 

A PDF iconreport published today by the European Medicines Agency (EMA) shows that the overall sales of veterinary antimicrobials across Europe have decreased by more than 20% between 2011 and 2016. This continues the downward trend seen over the last few years and confirms that European Union (EU) guidance and national campaigns promoting prudent use of antibiotics in animals to fight antimicrobial resistance are having a positive effect.

The results are part of EMA’s report of the European Surveillance of Veterinary Antimicrobial Consumption (ESVAC) project, which presents detailed sales data for the year 2016 and records yearly changes in the consumption of veterinary antimicrobials dating back to 2010. For the 8th ESVAC report, 30 countries from the EU and the European Economic Area (EEA) plus Switzerland provided data on sales or prescriptions of veterinary antimicrobials for 2016. Of these, 25 EU Member States submitted data for the entire period between 2011 and 2016. Participation in the ESVAC project has grown substantially, from nine countries initially to 30 today.

Reduction in sales is the result of combined efforts of the European Commission, EMA, EU Member States, veterinarians, farmers and other actors in the livestock sector. EU guidance together with national campaigns for prudent use of antibiotics in animals, sales targets and restriction of use of some antimicrobials in food-producing animals are among the actions implemented to reduce the sales of veterinary antimicrobials across Europe under the umbrella of the EU One Health Action Plan against Antimicrobial Resistance. Led by the European Commission, the overarching goal of this plan is to preserve the possibility of effective treatment of infections in humans and animals through a framework for continued, more extensive action to reduce the emergence and spread of AMR.

Source: Sales of antibiotics for use in food-producing animals drop across the EU | European Medicines Agency

AMR action in Europe

In June 2017 the Commission adopted its second Action Plan against AMR. This ambitious action plan builds on the previous one, focusing on activities with a clear EU added value and, where possible, on measurable and concrete outcomes. The key objectives are built on three main pillars:

  • Making the EU a best practice region
  • Boosting research, development and innovation
  • Shaping the global agenda

The bi-annual EU AMR One-Health Network meetings provide members with a platform to present national action plans and strategies and keep each other up to date on their progress, to share best practices, and to discuss policy options and how to enhance cooperation and coordination.

To read more about AMR in Europe, go to: http://ec.europa.eu/newsroom/sante/newsletter-specific-archive-issue.cfm?archtype=specific&newsletter_service_id=327&newsletter_issue_id=11398&page=1&fullDate=Thu%2025%20Oct%202018&lang=default

We must join our forces to stop the unnecessary use of antibiotics

The European Commission released the results of a new Eurobarometer study on the public knowledge on antibiotics and overall trends in their use ahead of the 11th European Antibiotic Awareness Day.

The study shows that there has been a positive evolution in the use of antibiotics: 32% of people said they had taken antibiotics in the last twelve months, compared to 40% in the 2009 survey. However, many of these antibiotics were taken unnecessarily: 20% of  antibiotics were taken for flu or a cold and 7% took them without a medical prescription. 66% of the respondents know that antibiotics are of no use against colds, and 43% are aware that antibiotics are ineffective against viruses. Over two thirds of people would like to have more information about antibiotics.

To read more about this go to: European Commission – PRESS RELEASES – Press release – European Antibiotic Awareness Day 2018: we must join our forces to stop the unnecessary use of antibiotics

Dangerous chemicals in clothing, textiles and footwear

The European Union is taking another important step in protecting EU consumers’ health against chemicals known to cause cancer and reproductive health problems, limiting the use of these hazardous chemicals in clothing, textiles and footwear. Following a new restriction under the REACH Regulation, adopted on 10 October 2018, 33 chemicals that are Carcinogenic, Mutagenic or Toxic for reproduction (CMR) can no longer be used in everyday clothing, textiles and footwear above a certain concentration limit. The restriction will become applicable within 24 months.

The substances restricted may occur in these articles either as impurities or to give specific properties, such as to prevent shrinkage or make fabric crease-resistant. Consumers can be exposed to these hazardous substances through skin contact, inhalation or unintentional ingestion of dust released from the textile fibres. The most vulnerable to exposure from them these substances are pregnant women and small children.

Read more about this on the European Commission website: http://ec.europa.eu/environment/chemicals/news_en.htm

Fight against food fraud: 45 tons of illegally treated tuna seized in Spain

On 11 August, the environmental protection service of the Spanish civil guard SEPRONA announced the seizure of 45 tons of illegally treated tuna fish. Four people were investigated and face possible criminal penalties of up to four years in prison for endangering public health, as well as administrative sanctions. The investigation has so far uncovered three companies and three fishing vessels involved in the fraudulent scheme.

Investigators found that frozen tuna only suitable for canning had been illegally treated with substances that enhance the colour and then been diverted to the market to be sold as fresh fish. This treatment can pose a serious public health risk associated with allergic reactions to histamine.

To read more about this go to: http://ec.europa.eu/newsroom/sante/newsletter-specific-archive-issue.cfm?archtype=specific&newsletter_service_id=327&newsletter_issue_id=10314&page=1&fullDate=Mon%2013%20Aug%202018&lang=default