Why tobacco taxation matters for health equity

Tobacco consumption is the most significant cause of premature death in the EU and one that disproportionally affects the poorest and most disadvantaged citizens. Not only are rates of tobacco consumption higher amongst the lowest socio-economic groups, they suffer more from its effects.

The use of novel tobacco products also looks set to grow. National initiatives to research and regulate e-cigarettes and packaging are encouraging, but while the long – term effects of e-cigarette use remain unknown, caution should prevail. Clinician-led use of novel products can have a place in tobacco cessation services,  along with increased health literacy and health education as part of wider health promotion approach. However, unregulated and fully open markets can perpetuate the sale of harmful products, exploiting the vulnerability and inequalities experienced by certain groups.

To read the full article on the EuroHealthnet website: Why tobacco taxation matters for health equity 

Ending the chronic disease epidemic

Chronic diseases affect one third of the European population aged 15 and over, and nearly a quarter of working-age Europeans. Many good practices in prevention and control are available and already implemented in different countries but more needs to be done.

The European Public Health Alliance believes that fiscal measures should be directed toward incentivising healthy diets and lifestyles, and reducing alcohol consumption. Together with interventions aimed to limit citizens’ exposure to marketing of unhealthy food and drink products and promote physical activity, they have the potential to create health-friendly environments, conducive to healthy lives and facilitating healthy choices. This is particularly important when data show that in all EU countries, citizens’ mean daily salt intake exceeds the recommended levels, millions of Europeans still consume trans fats at levels that significantly increase their risk of coronary heart disease, exposure to high levels of air pollution is causing the premature death of over 400 000 Europeans annually and half of the EU population is reported to never exercise or play sport.

To read the full report on the EPHA website: Putting an end to the chronic disease epidemic in Europe and beyond – what are we waiting for? 

Steering Group on Health Promotion, Disease Prevention and Management of Non-Communicable Diseases 

To support countries in reaching the health targets of the Sustainable Development Goals, the Commission has established a Steering Group on Health Promotion, Disease Prevention and Management of Non-Communicable Diseases.

The Steering Group will have a broad overview of public health policy and may set up subgroups to work on specific issues for limited time periods. Therefore, existing Commission expert groups set up for particular diseases, for example, those on cancer control and rare diseases, will now be replaced by the Steering Group.

In practice, the Steering Group will provide expert advice to the Commission on developing and implementing activities in the field of health promotion, disease prevention and the management of non-communicable diseases. It will also foster exchanges of relevant experience, policies and practices between the Member States.

To read more about this on the European Commission website, go to: Steering Group on Health Promotion, Disease Prevention and Management of Non-Communicable Diseases – European Commission

Health risks of Light Emitting Diodes (LEDs) 

The EU Scientific Committee has concluded that there is no evidence of direct adverse health effects from LEDs in normal use by the general population. Cellular and animal studies showing adverse effects appeared to be conducted under exposure conditions that were difficult to relate to human exposures or used exposure levels in excess of internationally agreed exposure limits.

There is a low level of evidence that exposure to light in the late evening, including that from LED lighting and/or screens, may have an impact on the circadian rhythm. At the moment, it is not yet clear if this disturbance of the circadian system leads to adverse health effects. Children have a higher sensitivity to blue light and although emissions may not be harmful, blue LEDs (between 400 nm and 500 nm) including those in toys may be very dazzling and may induce photochemical retinopathy, which is a concern especially for children below three years of age. Older people may experience discomfort from exposure to light that is rich in blue light.

To read more about this on the European Commission website go to: Final Opinion on Light Emitting Diodes (LEDs) – European Commission

Improving the Lives of People with Dementia 

Across the OECD, nearly 19 million people are living with dementia. Millions of family members and friends provide care and support to loved ones with dementia throughout their lives. Globally, dementia costs over USD 1 trillion per year and represents one of the leading causes of disability for elderly adults. These numbers will continue to rise as populations age. Until a cure or disease-modifying treatment for dementia is developed, the progress of the disease cannot be stopped. This report presents the most up-to-date and comprehensive cross-country assessment of the state of dementia care in OECD countries. In recent years, OECD countries have enhanced their efforts to provide high-quality dementia care during diagnosis, early and advanced dementia, but improving measurement is necessary for enhancements in care quality and outcomes for people with dementia. The report advises a set of policies that can help countries to improve diagnosis, strengthen access to care services, improve the quality of care, and support the families and carers of people living with dementia. Measuring and comparing the services that are delivered to people with dementia and the outcomes they achieve is a crucial part of improving dementia care. Most health systems have very poor data on dementia care and  countries should work to strengthen the measurement of quality and outcomes of dementia care.

To read more about this on the OECD website, go to: Care Needed – Improving the Lives of People with Dementia – en – OECD

Health and climate change

The Working Group on Health in Climate Change (HIC) met on 12–13 June 2018 at the WHO European Centre for Environment and Health (ECEH) in Bonn, Germany. Twenty-five Member States of the WHO European Region sent nominated representatives.

The meeting in Bonn was an opportunity to further support the work of Member States in the development of their national portfolios of action, to provide an update on policy developments, to facilitate the exchange of experience, and to identify priority themes and actions to advance implementation of the Ostrava commitments on climate change and health.

To read more about this on the WHO Europe website go to: http://www.euro.who.int/en/health-topics/environment-and-health/Climate-change/news/news/2018/6/european-working-group-on-health-in-climate-change-supports-countries-in-implementing-key-commitments?utm_source=WHO%2FEurope+mailing+list&utm_campaign=aa83e336cd-News_highlights_January_2018_COPY_01&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_60241f4736-aa83e336cd-93292493

High percentage of women experience severe reproductive health issues

A new Public Health England (PHE) survey has revealed over 30% of women experience severe reproductive health problems; however, under half seek the necessary help.

The first of its kind, a report from PHE has revealed the impact of women’s reproductive health issues on the nation’s physical, mental and wellbeing.

It shows the extent of the impact such issues have on women’s ability to work and get on with their daily lives, which will form the basis of a new cross-governmental five-year action plan on reproductive health.

To read more about the topic go to: High percentage of women experience severe reproductive health issues

Exoskeletons help patients regain mobility

Four years ago, Pablo Albisua Albizu’s life changed forever. Just after heart surgery, this former decorator suffered a stroke that left one side of his body paralysed. Along with undertaking hundreds of rehabilitation sessions, he also volunteered to test a new exoskeleton.

Developed by biomedical engineers, the exoskeleton is made out of aeronautical aluminium. It weighs 12 kilos and it has been designed to assist in the rehabilitation of patients like Pablo, who have suffered strokes.

And it worked, Pablo says.

“Before, when I went shopping in a car, we went around and around to find parking places as close as possible to the shops. And if I was not able to find one, I often just drove back home. I could not find the strength to walk even short distances. Now that has completely changed. I can even go to big shopping malls and I dare to walk around for a long time. That was simply not possible before. I was too tired.”

To read more about the exoskeleton go to: Exoskeletons help patients regain mobility | Euronews

Improving the efficiency of chemotherapy with a new molecule

Researchers from the CNRS and Université Nice Sophia Antipolis, France, have demonstrated that methiothepin, a small molecule, can improve the efficiency of chemotherapy by inhibiting the resistance of certain tumours.

Cancerous tumours are also capable of ‘detoxing’, subsequently limiting the efficiency of chemotherapy, and in order to better understand this phenomenon, the research team studied the patched membrane protein, showing that this protein is capable of expelling some of the primary active ingredients of chemotherapy from cancerous cells. The rejection of these toxic substances enables the tumour to eventually survive the treatment.

To read more about this on the Health Europa website go to: Improving the efficiency of chemotherapy with a new molecule

Info Day, Horizon 2020 ‘Health, demographic change and wellbeing’

Save the date!  The European Commission is organising an Information Day to present the 2019 funding opportunities of the Health, demographic change and wellbeing societal challenge.

This half-day event (9:00-12:00) will only be webstreamed.  The link will be published on this page a week before the event. The programme will be online in the coming days.

Please send your questions preferably in advance at this address: RTD-HEALTH-INFODAY@ec.europa.eu and for more information on the event go to: https://ec.europa.eu/research/index.cfm?pg=events&eventcode=EC1C5BA5-B89B-0C8B-89C2E1E35FAC0804