Hundreds of brands across EU ‘breaking’ bloc’s chemical safety rule

Companies producing food, medicine, cosmetics and plastic across Europe are breaking EU legislation not completing important safety checks when using millions of tonnes of chemicals in production, an analysis has found.

This has been going on for years but was only recently discovered thanks to German government files, which environmental group BUND obtained.

The companies failed to report whether these chemicals are harmful to unborn babies or cancerous, or pose a threat to the environment.

As many as 12 to 121 million tonnes of the 41 different chemicals concerned are used in Europe every year. They can be found in customer and industrial products, including medicines, food contacts (such as packaging) and toys.

To read more about this go to: https://www.euronews.com/2019/05/22/hundreds-of-brands-across-eu-breaking-bloc-s-chemical-safety-rules

Alice Chapman-Hatchett: The future of health research in Europe—three visions for 2029

In May the European Health Forum Gastein (EHFG) travelled to London to discuss what the world of health research will look like 10 years from now. The event showcased a recently published report Research Futures, which looked at how research will be created and exchanged in a decade’s time, and started setting the scene for the main theme of this year’s Gastein Forum: disruptive change.

The report details three potential scenarios for health research in 2029. We have a brave open world, where state funders and philanthropic organisations have joined forces to collaborate and publish research via open access platforms, harnessing advances in artificial intelligence (AI) and technology to produce a joined-up approach. Next is tech titans, where industry and philanthropic foundations are the principal research funders, machine learning and AI advances are leading to a substantial proportion of research being carried out by machines, and few global shared solutions are emerging. The third scenario, eastern ascendance, envisions a future in which the volume of China’s public investment in research and development has made the East a magnet for international researchers. In this world, nations are working in isolation and international alignment on tackling global societal problems is proving difficult.

To read this article in full, go to: https://blogs.bmj.com/bmj/2019/05/10/alice-chapman-hatchett-future-health-research-europe-three-visions-2029/

What are the European Union political parties planning for your health?

The EUPHA (European Public Health Association) statement ‘What are the European Union political parties planning for your health?’ is a response to the European Union parties’ manifestos. The manifestos of the political parties seem not to prioritise health. Read the full analysis of the manifestos and calls for action in the EUPHA statement: https://eupha.org/repository/advocacy/EUPHA_statement_What_are_the_European_Union_political_parties_planning_for_your_health.pdf

Europeans’ attitudes towards vaccination

While vaccination policy is a competence of national authorities, the EU plays a role in coordinating policies and programmes in this area. In response to the threat to public health posed by outbreaks of vaccine-preventable diseases, the EU is taking action to strengthen cooperation. The survey asks questions about:

  • Europeans’ perceptions of vaccine-preventable diseases and of the perceived effectiveness of vaccines,
  • Europeans’ experiences with vaccination,
  • levels of Europeans’ knowledge about the effects of vaccines,
  • attitudes regarding the importance of vaccinations,
  • Europeans’ sources of information about vaccines and the extent to which they trust them.

This survey was carried out by the Kantar network in the 28 EU Member States between the 15th and 29th of March 2019. Some 27,524 respondents from different social and demographic groups were interviewed face-to-face at home in their mother tongue.

In 17 of the 28 Member States the disease most frequently thought to be still causing deaths is the flu. In Cyprus (84%), France (85%) and Greece (87%), over eight in ten respondents mention this, around double the proportion of those who mention it in Poland (44%), where it is nevertheless still the most common response. In seven countries less than half of the respondents mention the flu, but this ranges from nearly half (49%) of the respondents in Austria to less than a fifth (15%) of the respondents in Italy. Only in Italy the flu is not among the top three responses.

To read more about this and the report in full, go to: http://ec.europa.eu/commfrontoffice/publicopinion/index.cfm/survey/getsurveydetail/instruments/special/surveyky/2223

News from the Interreg 2Seas mid-term review event in Ghent

On the 25th and 26th of April 2019, the Health and Europe Centre attended the Interreg 2Seas mid-term review event in Ghent, Belgium. We are currently lead partner on 6 of the 15 approved projects in the social innovation category, so the event was a great opportunity to showcase our work and learn about the other projects. It was an excellent event with the highlight being our CASCADE project’s video winning third prize in the project video awards.

To watch the video go to: https://youtu.be/wui8rgPwmgk and to read more about any of our projects go to: http://www.healthandeuropecentre.nhs.uk/home-3/projects/current-projects-2/

European Commission funded project uses groundbreaking “CRMs” to check food pesticides

The European Commission Joint Research Centre (JRC) is developing Certified Reference Materials (“CRM”). CRM is a measurement standard supporting laboratories to check the quality of their measurement methods.

CRMs are being developed at the European Commission Joint Research Centre (JRC) in Geel, Belgium. The labs are performing quality checks to monitor ingredients and contaminants in the food, such as the pesticides in cucumber. They have even developed a ‘pesticides in cucumber’ CRM. Its powder made from cucumbers that comes with a certificate indicating the concentration of multi-pesticides. Euronews spoke to Marta Dabrio a project Officer at JRC-Geel about the CRM.

“Laboratories can use our cucumber CRM by integrating it into their own measurements. This means that if they analyze the CRM with their own methods, and if they obtain the results that we indicate in the certificate, they measure correctly.”

But they also analyse real food products. The cucumber needs to be prepared. If the number of pesticides analyzed in the cucumber CRM match those in the certificate, it confirms that the analytical method and the instruments used by the laboratory are reliable.

To read more about this on the Euronews website, go to: https://www.euronews.com/2019/04/22/european-commission-funded-project-use-groundbreaking-crms-to-check-food-pesticides

Brexit pledge on European health insurance cards

The Irish government has said it will, if necessary, cover the cost of European Health Insurance Cards (EHIC) for citizens in NI after Brexit.

Tanaiste (Irish deputy PM) Simon Coveney made the remark in the Dail (Irish Parliament) on Tuesday.

The EHIC currently entitles UK citizens to state-provided medical treatment if they fall ill or have an accident in EU or EFTA-member countries.

If the UK leaves with no deal, EHICs issued in the UK will not be valid.

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar previously said he wanted it to be retained post-Brexit for people in Northern Ireland. The UK is trying to reach agreements with EU governments to extend the reciprocal health care arrangements.

To read more about this go to: https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-northern-ireland-47955980

Member States urged to ramp up fight against noncommunicable diseases

Governments in WHO Member States must implement existing policies and set ambitious goals at national level if they are to live up to their commitment to reduce premature deaths from noncommunicable diseases (NCDs) in the WHO European Region. That was the message from speakers and participants at the plenary session of the WHO European High-level Conference on Noncommunicable Diseases held in Ashgabat, Turkmenistan on 9–10 April 2019.

Reducing premature deaths from NCDs by one third by 2030

Under Sustainable Development Goal target 3.4, governments have committed to reduce deaths from NCDs by one third by 2030, to prevent people from dying too young. The actions countries can take to achieve this target were the focus of the conference, attended by 44 countries from across the Region.

To read more about this, go to: http://www.euro.who.int/en/countries/turkmenistan/news/news/2019/4/member-states-urged-to-ramp-up-fight-against-noncommunicable-diseases

HIV and co-infection prevention

The Joint Action on HIV and Co-infection Prevention and Harm Reduction (HA-REACT) has come to its end on 31 January 2019. HA-REACT had 22 partners, representing 18 EU Member States, with additional expertise provided by 14 collaborating partners, including the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) and the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction (EMCDDA) who, through their work, have shown how funding and national policies affect harm reduction programmes.

HA-REACT was co-funded by the EU Health Programme.

The European-wide project had the ambitious objectives of ending new HIV cases and reducing HCV and tuberculosis (TB) transmission among people who inject drugs (PWID) in the EU by 2020 and focused on three EU countries (Hungary, Latvia and Lithuania) specifically. Through a range of activities ranging from HIV and HCV rapid testing trainings, to a condom vending machine pilot project in a Czech prison, and a mobile unit offering harm reduction services for people who inject drugs in Riga, HA-REACT demonstrated the European Commission’s commitment to harm reduction, and the many challenges associated with such services.

Source:  https://www.hareact.eu/en

Why and how Europe’s food systems need to change?

What can be done to prepare Europe’s food systems for the future? In a new Policy Précis, EuroHealthNet examines pathways, solutions and best practices to move towards healthier and more sustainable and inclusive food systems in Europe and beyond. 

Despite growing concern about sustainability, Europe’s food systems still put undue stress on our environment. By restraining access to decent and affordable nutrition, our food systems perpetuate and drive up health inequalities. The Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) continues to subsidise intensive production of alcohol, meat, dairy fats and sugars, products that are known to contribute to the growing prevalence of obesity, and Non Communicable Diseases (NCDs).

To read the Policy Précis in full, go to: https://eurohealthnet.eu/sites/eurohealthnet.eu/files/publications/Towards%20healthy%2C%20sustainable%20and%20inclusive%20European%20food%20systems.pdf#overlay-context=