France to colour-code nutrition labelling

France is recommending the Nutri-Score system –  a straightforward labelling system that uses colour codes to guide consumers at a glance on the nutritional value of food products. This marks an important achievement for nutrition in the WHO European Region and it will build on other ongoing efforts in the country to create healthy food environments.

The United Kingdom already recommends traffic light labelling, a system that uses red, amber and green to indicate levels of fat, salt and sugar contained in food products. The Nutri-Score system that France intends to use employs a nutrient profiling system, based on the UK Food Standards Agency model, and classifies foods and beverages according to five categories of nutritional quality, indicated via a colour scale ranging from Green (grade A) to red (grade E).

For more information about the Nutri-score system of food labelling on the euro.who.int website

The Innov8 approach for reviewing national health programmes

The Innov8 technical handbook is a user-friendly resource as part of the Innov8 approach for reviewing national health programmes to leave no one behind. It gives detailed guidance and exercise sheets for each of the 8 steps of analysis that comprise the review process and includes background readings, country examples and analytical activities.

For more information and to download the handbook on the Innov8 approach for reviewing national health programes from the who.int website

Patient blood management

A 5-year Patient Blood Management (PBM) programme in Western Australia resulted in a 28% reduction in hospital mortality, a 15% reduction in average hospital length of stay, a 21% reduction in hospital-acquired infections and a 31% decrease in heart attack or stroke. There was also a 41% reduction in the use of blood products, leading to a substantial cost saving as well.

PBM is a patient-focused, evidence-based and systemic approach to improve patient outcomes through the safe and rational use of blood and blood products and avoiding unnecessary transfusions. Essential elements of PBM include:

  • preventing conditions that might result in the need for transfusion
  • appropriate diagnosis
  • good surgical and anaesthetic techniques
  • the use of alternatives to blood transfusion and blood conservation.

The PBM approach has been endorsed and promoted by the WHO and is widely accepted as current best practice.

The EU has recently published two guides on Patient Blood Management (PBM), one for authorities and the other for hospitals.

To download the two guides on Patient Blood Management from the ec.europa.eu website

Government expenditure on health

At EU-level, ‘health’ expenditure remained the second largest item of general government expenditure after expenditure on ‘social protection’ in 2015. In the EU-28, total expenditure of general governments on ‘health’ amounted to 7.2% of GDP. ‘Hospital services’ accounted for 3.4 % of GDP, ‘outpatient services’ for 2.2 % of GDP and ‘medical products, appliances and equipment’ for 1.0 % of GDP.

For more statistics about expenditure on health services from the ec.europa.eu website

Assessing integrated care in Europe

The EU’s expert group on health systems’ performance assessment has produced a report ‘Blocks: tools and methodologies to assess integrated care in Europe’.

They did so for two main reasons, firstly, at this stage of technological development and with current demographic patterns, we cannot rely on homogeneous, top-down healthcare solutions. Secondly, every patient is different and we need to develop patient-centred care tailored to individual needs and which allows them to be involved in their own care.
They have measured both the degree of integration of care and the performance of integrated care systems.
To download the report on Integrated care from the ec.europa.eu website

Good practices in mental health and wellbeing

Mental disorders place a tremendous burden on the well-being and health of European citizens. They are a leading contributor to the burden of disease in the European Union, and approximately 38.2% of EU citizens across all age groups are affected by a mental disorder each year.
Sharing information on good practices implemented in various settings can help stimulate investment in mental health, and collaborating efforts across EU in designing and implementing such activities in a more effective and
efficient manner.
To download this report on Good practices in mental health and wellbeing from the ec.europa.eu website

 

900 medical teams to connect across Europe for the benefit of patients

European Reference Networks (ERNs) are unique and innovative cross-border cooperation platforms between specialists for the diagnosis and treatment of rare or low prevalence complex diseases.

In 2017 24 thematic ERNs, gathering over 900 highly specialised healthcare units from 26 countries, will begin working together on a wide range of issues, from bone disorders to haematological diseases, from paediatric cancer to immunodeficiency. Joining up of EU’s best expertise on this scale should benefit thousands of patients with diseases requiring a particular concentration of highly specialised healthcare in medical domains where the expertise is rare.

For more information on European Reference Networks on the europa.eu website

Measles and rubella in Europe

Countries in the WHO European Region are continuing to eliminate measles and rubella both nationally and regionally. The European Regional Verification Commission for Measles and Rubella Elimination (RVC) reports that 37 of the 53 Member States in the Region (70%) had interrupted endemic measles transmission by the end of 2015 and 35 of them (66%) had also interrupted endemic rubella transmission. Of these countries, 27 sustained interruption for at least 36 months and are therefore considered to have eliminated one or both of the diseases. These conclusions indicate that measles is endemic in 4 fewer countries and rubella is endemic in 2 fewer countries than in the previous year. Progress is also reflected in a lower number of measles and rubella cases reported through routine surveillance in the Region in 2016 than in previous years.

For more information about European reduction in measles and rubella on the euro.who.int website

Hospital resilience in emergencies

The Hospital Safety Index is a rapid, reliable way of assessing risk in the health sector. It helps health facilities manage their safety and avoid becoming casualties of disasters. Through it, WHO/Europe has strengthened support to national authorities to build the resilience of health facilities in emergencies.

118 hospitals in 7 countries in the WHO European Region were assessed using the WHO Hospital Safety Index tool in 2015 & 2016. Altogether, 93 experts – including doctors, civil and maintenance engineers and emergency planning experts – from 14 European and 6 non-European countries were trained.

To read more and download the Hospital Safety Index from the euro.who.int website

The cost of unsafe care

Given the growing importance of patient safety for both health systems and patients, it is necessary to assess the impact of patient safety efforts and to develop priorities for action.

In addition to increased cost of healthcare services, unsafe care also leads to loss of trust in health care systems by the public and diminished satisfaction by patients and health care professionals.

Patient safety programmes may prevent and reduce such adverse events which ultimately results in less harm inflicted to patients. This new study ‘Costs of unsafe care and cost-effectiveness of patient safety programmes‘ aims to:
  • provide a comprehensive picture of the financial impact of poor patient safety, including poor prevention and control of healthcare-associated infections, on European Union’s health systems;
  • identify cost-effective patient safety programmes implemented in the EU/EEA Member States and develop an analysis identifying their success factors;
  • assess cost-effectiveness and efficiency of investment in patient safety programmes.
To download the full report on the costs of unsafe care from the ec.europa.eu website