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

Pilot projects on Health Inequalities

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

Children in the developed world

1 in 5 children in high-income countries lives in relative income poverty and an average of 1 in 8 faces food insecurity, according to the latest report by the UNICEF Office of Research.

This report ‘Building the Future: children and the sustainable development goals in rich countries’ is the first report to assess the status of children in 41 high-income countries in relation to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) identified as most important for child well-being. It ranks countries based on their performance and details the challenges and opportunities that advanced economies face in achieving global commitments to children.

To download the report on the status of children in high-income countries from the unicef-irc.org website

Deaths from drugs overdoses still rising

For the third year in row deaths from drugs overdose in Europe have increased, with the UK and Germany together accounting for around half of these deaths, according to the latest European Drug Report.

A total of 8,441 overdose deaths, mainly related to heroin and other opioids, are estimated to have occurred in Europe in 2015, a 6% increase on 2014. Increases were reported in almost all age groups and the UK accounted for 31% of the deaths, with Germany a distant second on 15%.

The report finds that the three European countries with the highest volume of drug online sales are Germany, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom, with stimulants, in particular MDMA and cocaine, accounting for most of the sales revenue.

For more information and to download the European Drug Report from the ec.europa.eu website

25% of Europeans still smoke

A recent survey shows no decrease in the overall smoking rate in the EU since 2014, with more than one in four Europeans still smoking. Amongst people aged 15 to 24 the rate has increased from 25% in 2014 to 29% in 2017.

Significant differences exist between EU countries, with the highest smoking rates in Greece (37%), Bulgaria, France (both 36%) and Croatia (35%). At 7%, Sweden has the lowest smoking rate in the EU. Regular e-cigarette use remains stable at 2%, with 15% having tried such products at some point. With regard to attitudes to tobacco and e-cigarette control measures, the majority of those surveyed (63%) think e-cigarette use should be banned in places where there are smoking bans; and 46% are in favour of plain packaging for cigarettes.

To read the full Eurobarometer on attitudes of Europeans to smoking and e-cigarettes on the ec.europa.eu website

Controlling speeding drivers

Around 1.25 million people die every year on the world’s roads. Studies indicate that:

  • almost half of all drivers exceed the speed limit
  • drivers who are male, young and under the influence of alcohol are more likely to be involved in speed-related crashes
  • road traffic accidents (RTAs) are the number one cause of death among young people aged 15–29 years
  • RTAs are estimated to cost countries from 3–5% of GDP and push many families into poverty.

‘Managing speed’, a new report from WHO, suggests that excessive or inappropriate speed contributes to 1 in 3 road traffic fatalities worldwide. Measures to address speed prevent road traffic deaths and injuries, make populations healthier, and cities more sustainable.

To read more about speed management to save lives 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

Good practices in mental health and wellbeing

Mental disorders place a tremendous burden on the well-being and health of European citizens. They are a leading contributor to the burden of disease in the European Union, and approximately 38.2% of EU citizens across all age groups are affected by a mental disorder each year.
Sharing information on good practices implemented in various settings can help stimulate investment in mental health, and collaborating efforts across EU in designing and implementing such activities in a more effective and
efficient manner.
To download this report on Good practices in mental health and wellbeing 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