VulnerABLE: Improving the health of those in isolated and vulnerable situations

This European initiative shall increase our understanding of how best to improve the health of people who are living in vulnerable and isolated situations across Europe. The project targets specific vulnerable and isolated populations such as children and families from disadvantaged backgrounds; those living in rural/isolated areas; those with physical, mental and learning disabilities or poor mental health; the long-term unemployed; the inactive; the ‘in-work poor’; older people; victims of domestic violence and intimate partner violence; people with unstable housing situations (the homeless); and prisoners.

Due to their circumstances, these groups may be more at risk of poor health and/or face barriers in accessing healthcare services. The project will assess their particular health needs and challenges, as well as identify best practices to support them and ultimately improve their health.

To read more about this project, funded by the European Parliament, go to: https://ec.europa.eu/health/social_determinants/projects/ep_funded_projects_en#fragment0

A breakthrough for men’s health

For the first time, WHO is undertaking a strategy entirely focused on the health and well-being of men and boys. A group of experts from a range of fields and disciplines related to men’s health came together on 5 September 2017 at UN City in Copenhagen, Denmark, to launch the development of the strategy for the WHO European Region.

The strategy will be supported by a report reviewing the evidence on topics such as addressing premature mortality, the intersection between masculinities and existing inequalities, health systems responses to men throughout the life-course, and the role of men in promoting gender equality in health. The report will provide a framework to guide and inform the development of country-specific policy responses to improve men’s health.

To read more about this breakthrough for men’s health on the WHO/Europe website go to: WHO/Europe | Gender – Breakthrough for men’s health: WHO and experts kick off development of strategy and report

Cycling: a vital link between transport, health, environment and economy

On 19–21 September 2017, Mannheim, Germany, celebrated the 200th anniversary of the country’s invention of the bicycle by hosting the International Cycling Conference (ICC). The event brought together approximately 300 researchers, practitioners and politicians from across the globe to discuss the role of active mobility in the modern world, creating an intersection of academic, political and practical thinking strategies.

Through interactive sessions, presentations, posters, lively discussions and guided study excursions on bicycles, the Conference highlighted the important links between transport planning, health care, environmental quality, economic and business development, and social issues. Under the overarching theme of “Bridging the gap”, the event explored the challenges and opportunities of translating knowledge and experience from research into practice and policy-making – and vice versa.

To read more on the WHO/Europe website go to: WHO/Europe | Germany – Cycling: a vital link between transport, health, environment and economy

State-of-the-art study focusing on the health inequalities faced by LGBTI people

The review study focused on the health inequalities faced by LGBTI people (especially those in vulnerable situations) and the potential barriers faced by health professionals when providing their care. It brings together scientific research and grey literature in a way that leads to new insights and recommendations supported by evidence.

Health inequalities relating to LGBTI people occur due to the consequences of a complex interaction of environmental, social, cultural and political factors. Root causes likely to contribute to the experience of health inequalities by LGBTI people include: cultural and social norms that preference and prioritise heterosexuality; minority stress associated with sexual orientation, gender identity and sex characteristics; victimisation; discrimination (individual and institutional), and; stigma.

To read the full report by the European Commission: https://ec.europa.eu/health/sites/health/files/social_determinants/docs/stateofart_report_en.pdf

The links between Commercial Determinants of Health and Chronic Diseases

Unhealthy diet is the biggest risk factor for disability adjusted life years lost (DALYs) in the EU, principally through diabetes, cancer, and cardiovascular diseases, with tobacco and alcohol also contributing significantly to the growing burden of chronic diseases  on health services.

Of course, this is far from coincidental. The private sector has a number of strategies and approaches that it employs “to promote products and choices that are detrimental to health”. They include marketing, which enhances the desirability and acceptability of products. Marketing in all its forms is key to unhealthy commodities’ acceptability, and crucially, their appeal.

To read more about these links on the epha.org site: https://epha.org/explaining-the-links-between-commercial-determinants-of-health-and-chronic-diseases/

WHO report on the global tobacco epidemic

The World Health Organization (WHO), finds that more countries have implemented tobacco control policies, ranging from graphic pack warnings and advertising bans to no smoking areas. About 4.7 billion people – 63% of the world’s population – are covered by at least one comprehensive tobacco control measure, which has quadrupled since 2007 when only 1 billion people and 15% of the world’s population were covered. Strategies to implement such policies have saved millions of people from early death. The report, funded by Bloomberg Philanthropies, focuses on monitoring tobacco use and prevention policies. It finds that one third of countries have comprehensive systems to monitor tobacco use. While this is up from one quarter of countries monitoring tobacco use at recommended levels in 2007, governments still need to do more to prioritize or finance this area of work.

For more information about this report on the global tabacco epidemic from who.int website.

 

Public consultation on Light Emitting Diodes (LEDs)

The European Commission has asked SCHEER to assess the potential health risks associated with LED emissions in the general population. The review of the published research conducted by the Committee has resulted in valuable conclusions and identified certain gaps in the knowledge on potential risks to human health from LEDs.

The Committee concluded that there is no evidence of direct adverse health effects from LEDs in normal use (lightening and displays) by the healthy general population.

Vulnerable and susceptible population (young children, adolescent and elderly people) were studied separately. Children have a higher sensitivity to blue light. Although emissions may not be harmful, blue LEDs may be very dazzling and may induce photochemical retinopathy, which is a concern especially for children below three years of age. Moreover, elderly people may experience discomfort from exposure to LED systems, including blue LED displays.

Despite the existence of cellular and animal studies showing adverse effects of LED exposure, their conclusions derive from results obtained using exposure conditions that are difficult to relate to human exposures or using exposure levels greater than those likely to be achieved with LED lighting systems in practice.

Since the use of LED technology is still evolving, the Committee considers that it is important to closely monitor the risk of adverse health effects from long term LED use to the general population.

For more information on the public consultation of Light Emitting Diodes (LEDs).

 

Antibiotic-resistant gonorrhoea on the rise

Each year, an estimated 78 million people are infected with gonorrhoea, which can infect the genitals, rectum, and throat. Complications of gonorrhoea disproportionally affect women and can include pelvic inflammatory disease, ectopic pregnancy and infertility, as well as an increased risk of HIV.

Data from 77 countries show that antibiotic resistance is making gonorrhoea more difficult, and sometimes impossible, to treat. Some countries – particularly high-income ones, where surveillance is best – are finding cases of the infection that are untreatable by all known antibiotics. These cases may just be the tip of the iceberg, as gonorrhoea is more common in lower-income countries.

Currently, in most countries, ESCs are the only single antibiotic that remain effective for treating gonorrhoea. But resistance to cefixime – and more rarely to ceftriaxone – has now been reported in more than 50 countries. As a result, WHO issued updated global treatment recommendations in 2016 advising doctors to give 2 antibiotics: ceftriaxone and azithromycin.

For more information about Antibiotic-resistant gonorrhoea on the who.int website

The economic costs of unhealthy diets and low physical activity

Unhealthy diets and low physical activity contribute to many chronic diseases and disability; they are responsible for some 2 in 5 deaths worldwide and for about 30% of the global disease burden. Yet surprisingly little is known about the economic costs that these risk factors cause, both for health care and society more widely.

This study pulls together the evidence about the economic burden that can be linked to unhealthy diets and low physical activity.

The study’s findings are a step towards a better understanding of the economic burden that can be associated with two key risk factors for ill health and they will help policymakers in setting priorities and to more effectively promoting healthy diets and physical activity.

To download the report Assessing the costs of unhealthy diet and low physical activity from the euro.who.int websit

Hepatitis A outbreak in Europe

Between June 2016 and May 2017, an unusual increase in cases of hepatitis A affecting mainly men who have sex with men (MSM) has been reported by low endemicity countries in the European Region.

15 countries (Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, and the United Kingdom) reported 1173 cases related to the 3 distinct multi-country hepatitis A outbreaks. Most of the affected countries have routinely recommended hepatitis A vaccine for MSM, but there is currently limited availability of this vaccine worldwide.

In Spain, hepatitis A cases reported in 2017 are almost 8 times higher than the average number of cases reported during the same period between the years 2012 and 2016. Most cases are men aged between 15 to 45 years old, and MSM are the most affected group.

For more information about preventing Hepatitis A outbreaks on the euro.who.int website