Environmental sustainability in health systems

Health systems have a substantial impact on the environment and are major consumers of energy and resources, according to evidence compiled in the new WHO policy paper “Towards environmentally sustainable health systems in Europe”.

The paper explains that although health systems use up natural resources, contribute to greenhouse gas emissions and produce large quantities of waste, including hazardous material, they can also have a positive impact on the environment – particularly in the areas of health promotion and environmental health protection activities.

Find out more about environmentally sustainable health systems on the euro.who.int website

Lead Poisoning in Europe

Lead poisoning is entirely preventable. Yet, the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation estimates that in 2013 lead exposure accounted for 853,000 deaths globally and 16.8 million disability-adjusted life years due to its long-term effects on health.

Lead poisoning can lead to developmental, behavioural and neurological disorders, anaemia, tiredness and muscle weakness, as well as kidney and liver damage. Scientific studies demonstrate that there is no safe threshold for lead in the human body; efforts should therefore focus on minimizing exposure as much as possible.

According to a WHO survey, 34 of the 53 countries in the WHO European Region report having legislation regulating lead paint in place. However, in some countries this regulation is not yet enforced. In addition to lead paint, lead is found in emissions from industrial processes and waste management, in drinking water (due to the use of lead in water pipes), in consumer products such as toys, cosmetics or jewellery, and in lead-acid batteries.

WHO/Europe encourages all European countries to join forces to advocate for reducing the risks to human health from lead through minimizing environmental and occupational exposure, particularly for children and women of childbearing age.

More information about Lead Poisoning is on the euro.who.int website.

Consumption of fruit and vegetables

On average across the EU, only 1 in 7 people aged 15 or over eats at least 5 portions of fruit or vegetables daily……while 1 in 3 have days when they do not eat any fruit or vegetables at all.
Regular consumption of fruit and vegetables is considered an important element of a healthy and balanced diet yet in the EU slightly more than a third (34.4%) of the population aged 15 or over did not eat them on a daily basis in 2014, while less than 15% (14.1%) consumed at least 5 portions each day.
The daily consumption of fruit and vegetables differs widely between EU Member States, with those aged 15 or over not eating fruit and vegetables on a daily basis ranging from almost two-thirds of the population in Romania (65.1%) to slightly over 15% in Belgium (16.5%). On the other hand, the share of those eating at least 5 portions daily varied from a third in the United Kingdom (33.1%) to less than 5% in both Romania (3.5%) and Bulgaria (4.4%).
Different for men and for women, daily consumption of fruit and vegetables seems also to be influenced by the level of education. The higher the education level, the higher the share of the “5-a-day” population.
More statistics on healthy eating habits can be downloaded from the ec.europa.eu website

Alcohol-attributable deaths in Europe

For the first time, trends in alcohol consumption and related mortality have been examined systematically for all countries in the WHO European Region for an extended period. WHO/Europe’s new report “Public health successes and missed opportunities. Trends in alcohol consumption and attributable mortality in the WHO European Region, 1990–2014” shows that over the past 25 years alcohol-attributable deaths increased by 4%.

The European Region ranks highest globally in terms of adult per capita alcohol consumption, and the level and patterns of drinking have contributed substantially to mortality from cardiovascular diseases (CVD), cancer, liver cirrhosis, and unintentional and intentional injury.

More information and the full report on Alcohol consumption and public health can be downloaded from the euro.who.int website

Adding to Social capital and individual Potential in ex-Industrial REgions (ASPIRE)

This proposed project will be applying for funding under the Interreg VA France (Channel) England programme which focuses on issues that affect the coastal areas of southern England and northern France. In both areas there are places currently deeply affected by the closure of a single dominant employer such as mining, ship-building and heavy industrial production. The local economy has found it hard to replace the jobs lost and the resulting deprivation shows in the levels of unemployment and general ill-health (mental and physical).

This project will initiate and encourage small-scale community involvement in growing, cooking and selling local produce, creating a healthier community and enabling small businesses to evolve and regenerate the local economy.

The Health and Europe Centre are the lead partners in this project and although it is in its very earliest stages, we already have a number of organisations interested in becoming partners, including Medway CIC, KCC, Plymouth Council, Kent CHFT and the Hadlow Group through the Betteshanger Community Park.

Ambient air pollution: A global assessment

Air pollution has become a growing concern in the past few years, with an increasing number of acute air pollution episodes in many cities worldwide. As a result, data on air quality is becoming increasingly available and the science underlying the related health impacts is also evolving rapidly.

This report presents a summary of methods and results of the latest World Health Organization(WHO) global assessment of ambient air pollution exposure and the resulting burden of disease.

Download the full report on Ambient Air Pollution from the who.int website

12 ways to reduce your cancer risk.

The European Code Against Cancer focuses on actions that individuals can take to reduce their risk of developing cancer. It lists 12 actions that will make a significant difference to a person’s health and longevity:

  • Do not smoke. Do not use any form of tobacco.
  • Make your home smoke free. Support smoke-free policies in your workplace.
  • Take action to be a healthy body weight.
  • Be physically active in everyday life. Limit the time you spend sitting
  • Have a healthy diet: eat plenty of whole grains, pulses, vegetables and fruits; limit high-calorie foods (foods high in sugar or fat) and avoid sugary drinks; avoid processed meat; limit red meat and foods high in salt.
  • If you drink alcohol of any type, limit your intake. Not drinking alcohol is better for cancer prevention.
  • Avoid too much sun, especially for children. Use sun protection. Do not use sunbeds.
  • In the workplace, protect yourself against cancer-causing substances by following health and safety instructions.
  • Find out if you are exposed to radiation from naturally high radon levels in your home. Take action to reduce high radon levels.
  • For women: Breastfeeding reduces the mother’s cancer risk so if you can, breastfeed your baby; Hormone replacement therapy (HRT) increases the risk of certain cancers so limit use of HRT.
  • Ensure your children take part in vaccination programmes for Hepatitis B (for newborns) and Human papillomavirus (HPV) (for girls).
  • Take part in organised cancer screening programmes for:
    • Bowel cancer (men and women)
    • Breast cancer (women)
    • Cervical cancer (women).

Print the full Code against Cancer from the cancer-code-europe.iarc.fr website

Women’s health and well-being in Europe

The latest session of the WHO Regional Committee for Europe has considered the Strategy on women’s health and well-being in the WHO European Region and produced a report “Women’s health and well-being in Europe: beyond the mortality advantage”.

To provide background to the Strategy, the new report:

  • presents a snapshot of women’s health in the Region;
  • discusses the social, economic and environmental factors that determine women’s health and well-being;
  • focuses on the impact of gender-based discrimination and gender stereotypes;
  • considers how people-centred health systems could respond to women’s needs; and
  • outlines important perspectives for the international and national frameworks that govern women’s health and well-being in Europe.

Download the full report on Women’s health and wellbeing in Europe from the euro.who.int website

Promoting Health and Wellbeing towards 2030

Thirty years after the Ottawa Charter for Health Promotion, EuroHealthNet has published ‘Promoting Health and Wellbeing towards 2030: taking the Ottawa Charter Forward in the context of the UN Sustainable Development Agenda 2030′.

This statement confirms the role and contribution of health promotion in achieving sustainable development and social progress and includes 10 steps to promote health in a rapidly changing world. In order to maximise the role of health promotion, EuroHealthNet believes the sector needs to be:

  • responsive
  • equitable
  • joined up
  • updated
  • value driven
  • ethical
  • new
  • active
  • technological
  • ecological

Download the full statement on Health Promotion from the eurohealthnet.eu website

Health inequalities for LGBTI people

The European Parliament funds a number of pilot projects – projects which are experimental and designed to test the feasibility and usefulness of action. They are intended to develop evidence-based strategies to address a problem, identify good practices, and provide policy guidance for the benefit of possible future initiatives in the area of health inequalities.

This particular pilot project will increase understanding of how best to reduce specific health inequalities experienced by lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgendered and intersex (LGBTI) people, focusing 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.

More information about this project on health inequalities for LGBTI people is on the ec.europa.eu website