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.
The World Health Organization (WHO) HIV drug resistance report 2017 shows that of the 36.7 million people living with HIV worldwide, 19.5 million people were accessing anti-retroviral therapy in 2016. The majority of these people are doing well, with treatment proving highly effective in suppressing the HIV virus. But a growing number are experiencing the consequences of drug resistance. In 6 of the 11 countries surveyed in Africa, Asia and Latin America, over 10% of people starting antiretroviral therapy had a strain of HIV that was resistant to some of the most widely used HIV medicines.
The Organization warns that this growing threat could undermine global progress in treating and preventing HIV infection if early and effective action is not taken.
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).
The European Parliament funds a number of pilot projects designed to test the feasibility and usefulness of action, develop evidence-based strategies to address a problem, identify good practices, and provide policy guidance in the area of health inequalities.
One such pilot is VulnerABLE: Improving the health of those in isolated and vulnerable situations
It 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.
Initial research has found that unmet health needs are a significant factor for those living in vulnerable and isolated situations. For example:
- Data from the Survey of Health, Ageing and Retirement in Europe (SHARE) show that in older people socioeconomic factors such as a lower level of education and lower income increase the likelihood of older people experiencing limitations to their mobility, and the prevalence of eyesight, hearing and chewing problems
- Those living in rural areas are less likely than urban residents to seek the healthcare they need because of cost, distance, and/or a lack of health facilities and professionals
- Most prisoners have pre-existing vulnerabilities, such as substance abuse and mental health needs, which overcrowding and poor hygiene in prison may make worse
- Those with lower levels of education are more likely to have a lower life expectancy
- Long-term unemployment and inactivity is associated with a range of poor health outcomes
Over its two-year lifetime, the ‘VulnerABLE’ project will create training materials and capacity-building workshops for national and regional authorities who deliver healthcare services and have a vital role to play in tackling health inequalities
For more information about Pilot projects to tackle Health Inequalities on the ec.europa.eu website
Public health officials regularly collect and analyse data to map disease, spot patterns, identify causes and respond to outbreaks. Surveillance, when conducted ethically, is the foundation for programs to promote human well-being at the population level and can contribute to reducing inequalities.
However, it is not without risks for participants and sometimes poses ethical dilemmas. It can lead to harm if people’s privacy is violated, or they are stigmatized on the basis of the information they provide about themselves.
The WHO have produced Guidelines on Ethical Issues in Public Health Surveillance – the first international framework of its kind. It outlines 17 ethical guidelines that can assist everyone involved in public health surveillance, including officials in government agencies, health workers, NGOs and the private sector.
To read the Guidelines on Ethical Issues in Public Health Surveillance
The Swedish government has introduced a new national mental health strategy for 2016-2020. It is based on five focus areas identified as the most important to strengthen mental health and prevent mental illness:
- Prevention and promotion efforts
- Accessible early interventions
- Focus on vulnerable groups
- Participation and rights
- Organization and leadership
Each focus area includes people of all ages – children, young people, adults, and the elderly. Just as the focus areas were developed in collaboration between many different stakeholders, the government emphasises that all development work in the field must be conducted simultaneously and collaboratively. The Public Health Agency of Sweden plays a leading role in this effort.
For more information about Sweden’s National Mental Health Strategy on the eurohealthnet-magazine.eu website
Each year, at least 1.4 million Europeans die prematurely due to polluted environments; this corresponds to at least 15% of Europe’s total deaths. Around half of these deaths are due to outdoor and indoor air pollution. Altogether, European citizens lose annually 50 million years of healthy life from environmental risks.
Environmental risk factors are responsible for around 26% of ischemic heart disease, 25% of strokes and 17% of cancers in Europe. Air pollution is the leading environmental killer, responsible for 620,000 deaths every year from outdoor (transport, industry, energy production) and indoor (solid fuel combustion for heating and cooking, poor ventilation, second-hand tobacco smoke) exposure.
For more information about the risks to public health of air pollution on the euro.who.int website
This independent report, commissioned by WHO and written by Sir Liam Donaldson, reflects on the trends, achievements and challenges in global health over the past decade. It discusses the role of WHO in dealing with such issues as the rise of noncommunicable diseases, leaps in life expectancy, and emerging threats like climate change and antimicrobial resistance.
The sections include:
- Saving mothers and children
- Microbes: old and new
- The ascendancy of noncommunicable diseases
- Healthy ageing
To download the full report ‘Healthier, fairer, safer: the global health journey 2007–2017′ from the who.int website