Over 1.2 million adolescents die every year, nearly all preventable

Across the world, more than 3,000 adolescents die every day from largely preventable causes according to a report from the World Health Organisation.

Road traffic injuries, lower respiratory infections, and suicide are the biggest causes of death among adolescents and most of these could be prevented with good health services, education and social support. However, in many cases, adolescents who suffer from mental health disorders, substance use, or poor nutrition cannot obtain critical prevention and care services – either because the services do not exist, or because they do not know about them.

In addition, many behaviours that impact health later in life, such as physical inactivity, poor diet, and risky sexual health behaviours, begin in adolescence.

To read more about preventable adolescent deaths on the who.int website

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

25 Years of Protecting our Health

Since 1992 when the Maastricht Treaty specifically stated that ‘The community shall contribute towards ensuring a high level of human health protection’ the EU has been protecting our health.

It has helped national governments to make healthcare more accessible and efficient, provided scientific advice and data, financed local and cross-border health projects and promoted investments in innovation, research and training.

Current challenges include:

  • Guaranteeing accessible, efficient and resilient healthcare
  • Investing more in innovation, research and eHealth
  • Tackling antimicrobial resistance
  • Promoting innovative health products and technologies
  • Preparing for new global health threats

To download the infographic on 25 years of protecting our health from the ec.europa.eu website

Medicine packaging

Since 2001, EU rules have required the medicines we buy in the EU to contain a package leaflet which should provide us – the user, with clear information on the medicines we are taking – including the name of the product and the manufacturer, therapeutic indications, dosage, shelf life and adverse reactions.

The Commission has recently put forward recommendations on how they could be improved to better meet the needs of patients and healthcare professionals.

To read the recommendations on improved medicine packaging on the ec.europa.eu website

Measles outbreaks across Europe

Over 500 measles cases were reported for January 2017 in Europe with 85% of them coming from 7 of the 14 endemic countries (France, Germany, Italy, Poland, Romania, Switzerland and Ukraine). Measles continues to spread within and among European countries, with the potential to cause large outbreaks wherever immunization coverage has dropped below the necessary threshold of 95%.

As the WHO Regional Director for Europe pointed out:   “Today’s travel patterns put no person or country beyond the reach of the measles virus. Outbreaks will continue in Europe, as elsewhere, until every country reaches the level of immunization needed to fully protect their populations.”

Preliminary information for February indicates that the number of new infections is sharply rising. In all of the countries listed above, estimated national immunization coverage with the second dose of measles-containing vaccine is less than the 95% threshold.

For more information about measles in Europe from the euro.who.int website

Risk assessment in the EU

The EU has produced an infographic to show how the EU’s Scientific Committees assess risks. It not only shows in a clear and concise way how the Committees function but also provides concrete examples of how their work impacts EU legislation.
To download the infographic on Risk Assessment from the ec.europa.eu website

Pharmacovigilance

All medicinal products in the EU are subject to a strict testing and assessment of their quality, efficacy and safety before being authorised. Once placed on the market they continue to be monitored to ensure that any aspect which could impact the safety profile of a medicine is detected and assessed and that necessary measures are taken. This monitoring is called pharmacovigilance.

Pharmacovigilance activities include:

  • Collecting and managing data on the safety of medicines.
  • Looking at the data to detect “signals” (any new or changing safety issue).
  • Evaluating the data and making decisions with regard to safety issues.
  • Pro-active risk management to minimise any potential risk associated with the use of the medicine.
  • Acting to protect public health (including regulatory action).
  • Communicating with and informing stakeholders and the public.
  • Audit, both of the outcomes of action taken and of the key processes involved.

For more information about pharmacovigilance on the ec.europa.eu website

Harnessing big data for health

The latest edition of the Eurohealth Observer includes articles on:

  • connecting the dots: putting big data to work for health systems
  • big data for better outcomes: supporting health care system transformation in Europe
  • the Trump Administration launches health law changes into heavy seas
  • what does Brexit mean for health in the UK

To download the publication on Big data and health systems from 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

The cost of a polluted environment: 1.7 million child deaths a year

More than 1 in 4 deaths of children under 5 years of age are attributable to unhealthy environments.

Every year, environmental risks – such as indoor and outdoor air pollution, second-hand smoke, unsafe water, lack of sanitation, and inadequate hygiene – take the lives of 1.7 million children under 5 years, according to the WHO.

The top 5 causes of death in children under 5 are:

  • respiratory infections, such as pneumonia, attributable to indoor and outdoor air pollution, and second-hand smoke (570,000 children a year)
  • diarrhoea, as a result of poor access to clean water, sanitation, and hygiene (361,000 children a year)
  • conditions, including prematurity, which could be prevented through access to clean water, sanitation, and hygiene in health facilities as well as reducing air pollution (270,000 children a year in their first month of life)
  • malaria that could be prevented through environmental actions, such as reducing breeding sites of mosquitoes or covering drinking-water storage (200,000 children a year)
  • unintentional injuries attributable to the environment, such as poisoning, falls, and drowning (200,000 children a year)

For more information on the causes of death for children under 5 from the who.int website