Reducing childhood obesity in Poland by effective policies

Being overweight affects about 14% of Polish girls and almost 20% of boys. Childhood obesity is a health concern, as it increases the demand for paediatric treatment. Moreover, the slow but continuous increase in the prevalence in Poland over the past 40 years and the fact that an obese child will most likely become an obese adult indicates that childhood obesity jeopardises the sustainability of our health system.

To read the report on reducing childhood obesity in Poland on the WHO/Europe website go to: WHO/Europe | WHO European Office for NCDs – Reducing childhood obesity in Poland by effective policies (2017)

Reducing health inequalities experienced by LGBTI people

A pilot project aiming to reduce health inequalities experienced by LGBTI people will increase our understanding of how best to reduce these specific health inequalities experienced by lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgendered and intersex (LGBTI) people, focussing in particular on overlapping inequalities stemming from discrimination and unfair treatment on other grounds (e.g. older, younger, refugee, immigrant, disability, rural, poverty).

The project will explore the particular health needs and challenges faced by LGBTI people and analyse the key barriers faced by health professionals when providing care for LGBTI people. The aim is to raise awareness of the challenges and provide European health professionals with the tools that give them the right skills and knowledge to overcome these barriers and contribute to the reduction of health inequalities.

To read more about the project go to: Pilot projects funded by the European Parliament – European Commission

Turkey and e-cigarettes

In a public statement made at the Turkish Grand National Assembly Commission on Planning and Budget, Minister of Finance Naci Ağbal stated that plans to allow the importation and production of heat-not-burn tobacco products and electronic nicotine delivery systems  in Turkey were withdrawn. He confirmed that these products would not be sold or produced in the country.

The announcement followed a press conference and strong public reaction to the threats posed by the tobacco industry’s proposals to begin importing and producing heat-not-burn and ENDS products in the country. The press conference, held in Ankara, Turkey, saw WHO and prominent academics and health specialists jointly voicing their condemnation of the tobacco industry’s proposed new strategy.

To read more about this announcement and the reasons behind it on the WHO Europe website to go:  http://www.euro.who.int/en/health-topics/disease-prevention/tobacco/news/news/2017/10/turkey-withdraws-plans-to-loosen-tobacco-control-laws

Responding to children and adolescents who have been sexually abused

Sexual abuse of children and adolescents is a gross violation of their rights and a global public health problem. It adversely affects the health of children and adolescents. Health care providers are in a unique position to provide an empathetic response to children and adolescents who have been sexually abused. Such a response can go a long way in helping survivors recover from the trauma of sexual abuse.

WHO has published new clinical guidelines Responding to children and adolescents who have been sexually abused aimed at helping front-line health workers, primarily from low resource settings, in providing evidence-based, quality, trauma-informed care to survivors. The guidelines emphasize the importance of promoting safety, offering choices and respecting the wishes and autonomy of children and adolescents. They cover recommendations for post-rape care and mental health; and approaches to minimizing distress in the process of taking medical history, conducting examination and documenting findings.

To read more about this on the WHO website go to: WHO | Responding to children and adolescents who have been sexually abused

VulnerABLE: Improving the health of those in isolated and vulnerable situations

This European initiative shall increase our understanding of how best to improve the health of people who are living in vulnerable and isolated situations across Europe. The project 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.

To read more about this project, funded by the European Parliament, go to: https://ec.europa.eu/health/social_determinants/projects/ep_funded_projects_en#fragment0

A breakthrough for men’s health

For the first time, WHO is undertaking a strategy entirely focused on the health and well-being of men and boys. A group of experts from a range of fields and disciplines related to men’s health came together on 5 September 2017 at UN City in Copenhagen, Denmark, to launch the development of the strategy for the WHO European Region.

The strategy will be supported by a report reviewing the evidence on topics such as addressing premature mortality, the intersection between masculinities and existing inequalities, health systems responses to men throughout the life-course, and the role of men in promoting gender equality in health. The report will provide a framework to guide and inform the development of country-specific policy responses to improve men’s health.

To read more about this breakthrough for men’s health on the WHO/Europe website go to: WHO/Europe | Gender – Breakthrough for men’s health: WHO and experts kick off development of strategy and report

State-of-the-art study focusing on the health inequalities faced by LGBTI people

The review study focused on the health inequalities faced by LGBTI people (especially those in vulnerable situations) and the potential barriers faced by health professionals when providing their care. It brings together scientific research and grey literature in a way that leads to new insights and recommendations supported by evidence.

Health inequalities relating to LGBTI people occur due to the consequences of a complex interaction of environmental, social, cultural and political factors. Root causes likely to contribute to the experience of health inequalities by LGBTI people include: cultural and social norms that preference and prioritise heterosexuality; minority stress associated with sexual orientation, gender identity and sex characteristics; victimisation; discrimination (individual and institutional), and; stigma.

To read the full report by the European Commission: https://ec.europa.eu/health/sites/health/files/social_determinants/docs/stateofart_report_en.pdf

Food and drink policies for better heart health

A message for World Heart Day, by Vytenis Andriukaitis, European Commissioner for Health and Food Safety:

“I am a big fan of a Mediterranean style diet, rich in fruit and vegetables that is good for heart health. Unfortunately the numbers seem to suggest that not so many of us adopt this kind of regime. Indeed, only one in seven people over the age of 15 in the EU eats the recommended five portions of fruit and vegetables every day according to 2016 figures. Furthermore, in 17 EU countries more that 50% of adults are overweight or obese, which we know is a major risk factor for cardiovascular disease s (CVDs).”

The latter remains the leading cause of death and a major cause of illness and disability in the EU, despite considerable progress in tackling CVDs. According to the latest Eurostat data, heart diseases and strokes causes over 1.8 million deaths in the EU in 2014 alone, and according to the European Heart Network, dietary risks are the cause of around half of premature deaths from CVD. As our diet is such an important factor in warding off CVD, on this year’s World Heart Day I would like to focus on the importance of food and drink policies for heart health, and outline some supportive EU-actions in this area of national competence.

To read this message in full on the European Commission website: http://ec.europa.eu/newsroom/sante/newsletter-specific-archive-issue.cfm?newsletter_service_id=327&newsletter_issue_id=5329

World hunger again on the rise

According to a new UN report world hunger is once again on the rise, driven by conflict and climate change. 815 million people are now hungry and millions of children are at risk from malnutrition.

After steadily declining for over a decade, global hunger is on the rise again, affecting 11 per cent of the global population. At the same time, multiple forms of malnutrition are threatening the health of millions worldwide. The increase – 38 million more people than the previous year – is largely due to the proliferation of violent conflicts and climate-related shocks, according to The State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World 2017.

To read more on the WHO website: http://who.int/mediacentre/news/releases/2017/world-hunger-report/en/

 

Public health interventions to manage sunbeds

 

Skin cancer is the most common form of cancer among light-skinned populations. The chief environmental cause of skin cancer is ultraviolet radiation (UVR). UVR exposure comes mainly from the sun, but over the past three decades there has been an increase in the use of artificial sources of UVR in the form of artificial tanning devices, such as sunbeds, stand up booths and facial tanners. This deliberate exposure to UVR is increasing the incidence of the major types of skin cancer.

The World Health Organization has produced a document intended for government health authorities, to assist in the development of public health interventions in relation to the use and management of sunbeds. The document provides a summary of health effects as well as a catalogue of interventions that have been used to reduce risks associated with artificial tanning. It is supplemented by a WHO database on sunbed regulations.

Artificial tanning is a recent phenomenon. Sunbeds and other tanning devices emitting artificial ultraviolet radiation (UVR) were developed in the 1960s but it was not until the 1980s that people began to use tanning beds in large numbers. During the 1990s, the artificial tanning industry grewrapidly in Northern Europe, Australia and the Americas. With increasing exposure by young people,often women, to artificial ultraviolet radiation, the health risks soon became apparent. Artificialtanning is now seen as a public health issue accounting for about half a million new cancer diagnoseseach year in the United States of America, Europe and Australia. Evidence of an association between artificial tanning and risk of skin cancer clearly shows that the risk is highest in those exposed to artificial tanning in early life.

More information on public health interventions to manage artificial tanning devices on the who.int website.