Cancer screening in the EU

In 2012 almost 1.3 million lives were lost to cancer in Europe alone. Nearly half of cancer deaths can be avoided with more preventive action to address and mitigate the risks. While we aim to reduce the incidence of cancer by tackling major life-style determinants, such as smoking, nutrition and physical activity, screening remains a very effective prevention tool. Regular and systematic examinations can detect the disease early, when it is more responsive to
less aggressive treatment. Followed by appropriate care, these examinations can significantly reduce cancer mortality and improve the quality of life of cancer patients.
In 2003, the Council of the EU had issued recommendations setting out principles of best practice in the early detection of cancer. The recommendations called on all EU countries to take common action to implement
national, population-based screening programmes for breast, cervical and colorectal cancer. A first report analysing the state of implementation followed in 2008 and showed that, despite progress being made, Member States still had fallen short of the target set for the minimum number of examinations by more than 50%.
The second report has now been published and allows the comparison of the national programmes by these  indicators and may eventually pave the way to define common benchmarks for cancer screening programmes in the EU.
To download the report on cancer screening in the EU from the ec.europa.eu website

Public consultation on AMR

The European Commission will be launching a ‘One Health’ action plan to support Member States in the fight against antimicrobial resistance  and is currently asking for the views and input of citizens, administrations, associations and other organisations.

Respondents are invited to take part in the consultation by completing an online questionnaire, either the one for administrations, associations and other organisations, or the one for citizens.

To take part in the consultation as an organisation or as a citizen

The consultation period ends on the 28th April 2017

EU rules to drastically cut air pollution

Although air pollutants are invisible killers, people are increasingly aware and concerned about the quality of the air they breathe. From 31st December 2016 a new National Emissions Ceilings (NEC) Directive became law, which sets stricter limits on the five main pollutants in Europe – sulphur dioxide, ammonia, volatile organic compounds, nitrogen oxide and fine particulate matter.

The aim is to reduce these five pollutants by 79%, 19%, 40%, 63% and 49% respectively by 2030.

When fully implemented, the Directive will reduce by almost 50% the negative health impacts of air pollution, such as respiratory diseases and premature death. It will also have substantial benefits for the quality of fresh water, soil, and ecosystems and help address the impacts of harmful particles causing climate change like black carbon.

More information about air pollution and the Emissions Directive on the europa.eu website

Evaluation of Blood, Tissues and Cells legislation

EU legislation on quality and safety standards for blood, tissues and cells has been in place for more than a decade and in view of the changing landscape – greater use of technology, more disease outbreaks, and a more connected world – the Commission is going to evaluate whether this legislation has achieved its original objectives, is still fit for purpose, or whether there are gaps to be filled.

There will be a public consultation later in 2017 and the final report should be published in 2018

For more information about the process of evaluating blood, tissues and cells legislation on the ec.europa.eu website

 

UK researchers are top recipients of EU funding

UK-based researchers are top of the league in the European Research Council’s (ERC) latest round of mid-career consolidator grants. 58 researchers working in UK institutions will each receive up to €2 million (£1.7m) to set up their own teams and pursue ground-breaking ideas. Germany is in second place with 48 successful applicants.

The funding has been awarded for a wide range of disciplines from physical sciences and engineering to life sciences, social sciences and humanities.

An independent study released in July 2016 showed that over 70% of EU-funded ERC projects have made scientific breakthroughs or major advances.

More information about EU research funding on the ec.europa.eu 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

Sharing medical expertise across Europe

The European Commission has initiated a series of European Reference Networks (ERNs) to share expertise in specific medical areas.

Any group of at least 10 healthcare providers established in at least 8 Member States were invited to submit an application to establish an ERN in a given field of expertise and 23 such groups have been approved.

The ERNs cover a wide range of medical fields, such as rare bone disorders, paediatric cancers and rare eye diseases.

More details and a full list of European Reference Networks are on the ec.europa.eu website

Children’s medicines

Do you have an interest in safe medicines for children – as a parent, researcher or prescriber? If so, you are invited to participate in a stakeholder consultation launched by the European Commission. The aim is to gather real-life experiences and opinions on the Paediatric Regulation which came into force a decade ago and has three main objectives:

  • to ensure high-quality research into the development of medicines for children
  • to ensure that the majority of medicines used by children are specifically authorised for such use and so reduce the level of off-label use
  • to ensure the availability of high-quality information about medicines used by children.

The consultation is open until 20 February 2017.

More information about medicines for children and to contribute to the consultation on the ec.europa.eu website.

Pilot health projects funded by the EU

A pilot project is simply an experimental initiative 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 the area of nutrition and physical activity.

Boards of scientific experts have been set up from a variety of disciplines for each project to provide robust guidelines for the project intervention and to validate its tools including the project websites which reflect the views of the authors and not necessarily the official opinion of the Commission.

Examples of pilot projects include ‘My healthy family’; ‘ We love eating’ and ‘Taste booster’.

Read more about some pilot projects on healthy living on the ec.europa.eu website

Organ donation and transplant in the EU

Across Europe, 16 patients die every day waiting for the organs they need. However, there were over 800 more organ transplants in the EU in 2015, compared to 2014. This confirms an encouraging trend, with over 4000 additional transplants over 5 years, a 14% increase compared with 2010.

The ‘EU Action Plan on Organ Donation and Transplantation‘ has promoted training, cross-border exchange and sharing of best practices between Member States. Through the Public Health Programme, the Commission has co-funded several European projects to give practical support to Member States to help them improve their donation programmes.

In addition, a recently developed IT tool has been used to offer organs not allocated in their home country, enabling 23 transplants to take place during the pilot phase, mainly in children; that otherwise would not have been possible.

Read more about Organ Donation and Transplant from the ec.europa.eu website