Noncommunicable diseases – 45 successful years in Finland

In 1972, Finland had the highest rate of coronary heart disease (CHD) mortality in the world, and the region of North Karelia in eastern Finland had the highest rate in the country. To address this issue, the region initiated what is known as the North Karelia Project, a far-reaching, community-based intervention that aims to reduce CHD mortality by encouraging healthier habits and cutting down on risk factors such as high cholesterol intake and smoking.

The project is still active today and has produced remarkable results. During the 40-year period from 1972 to 2012, CHD mortality in North Karelia decreased by 82% among working-age men and 84% among women.

To read more about Finland’s method of reducing noncommunicable diseases from the euro.who.int website

Autism spectrum disorders

According to the latest factsheet from the WHO, 1 in 160 children world-wide has an autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and for most of them, the condition becomes apparent during the first 5 years of life.

ASD refers to a range of conditions characterised by some degree of impaired social behaviour, communication and language, and a narrow range of interests and activities that are both unique to the individual and carried out repetitively. ASDs begin in childhood and tend to persist into adolescence and adulthood.

For more information about autism spectrum disorders and to download the Parent Skills Training Package on the who.int website

Breast implants

The European Commission and its Scientific Committee on Health, Environmental and Emerging Risks (SCHEER) has published two Scientific Advices related to breast implants and health. They are on 1) new scientific information on the safety of PIP breast implants and 2) the possible association between breast implants and anaplastic large cell lymphoma (ALCL).

The first piece of advice concerns whether there is sufficient new scientific information on the safety of PIP breast implants to warrant an update of the 2014 SCENIHR Opinion and based on the scientific information it has gathered and evaluated, the SCHEER concludes that this is not the case at present.

The second piece of advice is on the state of scientific knowledge on a possible association between breast implants and anaplastic large cell lymphoma (ALCL). The SCHEER concluded that, at present, there is insufficient scientific information available to establish a methodologically robust risk assessment on the potential association of breast implants with the development of ALCL.

To download the full advice on the safety of PIP breast implants from the ec.europa.eu website

To download the full advice on the association between breast implants and ALCL from the ec.europa.eu website

Depression

The WHO have updated their factsheet on depression which includes the following facts:

  • Depression is the leading cause of disability worldwide, with more than 300 million sufferers of all ages, and it is a major contributor to the overall global burden of disease.
  • At its worst depression can lead to suicide, and nearly 800,000 people commit suicide every year. It is the second leading cause of death in 15-29-year-olds.
  • There are effective treatments for depression although fewer than half of sufferers receive any treatment at all.

For more information and to download the factsheet on depression on the who.int website

Deafness and hearing loss

The WHO have updated their factsheet about deafness and hearing loss and key facts in it include:

  • 360 million people worldwide have disabling hearing loss and 32 million of these are children
  • Hearing loss may result from genetic causes, complications at birth, certain infectious diseases, chronic ear infections, the use of particular drugs, exposure to excessive noise, and ageing
  • 60% of childhood hearing loss is due to preventable causes
  • 1billion young people (aged between 12–35 years) are at risk of hearing loss due to exposure to noise in recreational settings
  • Approximately one third of people over 65 years of age are affected by disabling hearing loss

For more information and to download the factsheet on deafness and hearing loss from the who.int website

Global Action Plan to Prevent & Control NCDs

Noncommunicable diseases (NCDs) – mainly cardiovascular diseases, cancers, chronic respiratory diseases and diabetes – are the biggest cause of death worldwide. More than 36 million die annually from NCDs (63% of global deaths), including 14 million people who die too young before the age of 70. More than 90% of these premature deaths from NCDs occur in low- and middle-income countries, and could have largely been prevented. Most premature deaths are linked to common risk factors, namely tobacco use, unhealthy diet, physical inactivity and harmful use of alcohol.

The World Health Organisation has launched a Global Action Plan for the Prevention and Control of Non-Communicable Diseases, which provides a road map and menu of policy options for countries, intergovernmental organisations, NGOs and the private sector. If these are implemented by 2020, a number of global targets will be reached, including a 25% reduction in premature mortality from NCDs by 2025.

For more information about the Action Plan to prevent NCDs on the who.int website

Prevention and control of noncommunicable diseases

The WHO has produced an action plan for the prevention and control of noncommunicable diseases in the European Region, focusing on priority action areas and interventions for the next decade in order to reduce premature mortality, reduce the disease burden, improve the quality of life and make healthy life expectancy more equitable.
The priority interventions, at population level are:
  • promoting healthy consumption via fiscal and marketing policies on tobacco, alcohol and food
  • product reformulation and improvement in terms of salt, fats and sugars
  • salt reduction
  • promoting active living and mobility
  • promoting clean air

Download the action plan for the prevention and control of NCDs on the euro.who.int website

Physical activity strategy 2016–2025

The WHO Regional Office for Europe has prepared a physical activity strategy to support the voluntary global targets set out in the WHO global action plan for the prevention and control of noncommunicable diseases 2013–2020.

The strategy focuses on physical activity as a leading factor in health and well-being in the European Region, with particular attention being paid to the burden of noncommunicable diseases associated with insufficient activity levels and sedentary behaviour. It aims to cover all forms of physical activity throughout an ordinary person’s life.

For more information and to download the physical activity strategy on the euro.who.int website.

Maternal nutrition linked to children’s risk of NCDs and obesity

The nutritional well-being of pregnant women affects not only their fetuses’ development but also children’s long-term risk of developing non-communicable diseases (NCDs) or obesity, according to a new report from WHO/Europe “Good maternal nutrition. The best start in life”.

While the importance of good nutrition in the early development of children has been recognized for decades, the report offers a systematized review of the most recent evidence on maternal nutrition and obesity and NCD prevention. The findings confirm that a mother’s nutritional status – including overweight and obesity, excessive gestational weight gain and gestational diabetes – affects not only her child’s health as an infant but also the child’s risk of obesity and related chronic diseases as an adult. In short, maternal nutrition can truly have an intergenerational impact.

The findings of this report further emphasize the need to implement strategies to optimize the nutrition of reproductive-age women. The evidence suggests that such interventions are among the most effective and sustainable means of achieving positive effects on health and reducing health inequalities across the next generation.

For more information about the impact of maternal nutrition on children on the euro.who.int website

 

Global report on Diabetes

The first WHO Global report on diabetes states that the number of adults living with diabetes has almost quadrupled since 1980 to 422 million adults. Factors driving this dramatic rise include overweight and obesity.

In 2012 alone diabetes caused 1.5 million deaths and its complications can lead to heart attack, stroke, blindness, kidney failure and lower limb amputation.

The report calls on governments to ensure that people are able to make healthy choices and that health systems are able to diagnose, treat and care for people with diabetes. It encourages us all to eat healthily, be physically active, and avoid excessive weight gain.

To read the Global Report on Diabetes on the who.int website