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
The WHO has produced an action plan for the prevention and control of noncommunicable diseases in the European Region, focusing on priority action areas and interventions for the next decade in order to reduce premature mortality, reduce the disease burden, improve the quality of life and make healthy life expectancy more equitable.
The priority interventions, at population level are:
- promoting healthy consumption via fiscal and marketing policies on tobacco, alcohol and food
- product reformulation and improvement in terms of salt, fats and sugars
- salt reduction
- promoting active living and mobility
- promoting clean air
Download the action plan for the prevention and control of NCDs on the euro.who.int website
Nearly half the European population is thought to have difficulty identifying, understanding and using health information. As this has real and negative health consequences, improving health literacy is a crucial step in improving people’s health. Health literacy skills are best developed early in life, which means the education sector is an important player, but it is not always easy to secure investment across sectors or to persuade the education sector to engage.
However, there is evidence that investing in health literacy in schools helps with outcomes beyond health. Some of the co-benefits include the possibility of better educational outcomes in school, leading to enhanced career opportunities and increased economic benefits for children when they reach adulthood. These co-benefits also contribute to better physical and emotional health and can be passed down to future generations.
The European Observatory on Health Systems and Policies has produced a report on these co-benefits and outlines the evidence on how to secure them, in the hope this will increase support from outside the health sector and facilitate the implementation of health literacy programmes.
To download the report on the benefits of health literacy from the euro.who.int website
Unhealthy levels of meat consumption and production are simultaneously driving climate change, diet-related chronic diseases and resistance to antibiotics, according to the European Public Health Alliance.
They argue that a transition towards sustainable diets is necessary for a realistic climate strategy and represents the agricultural sector’s main climate mitigation opportunity.
Studies suggest that realistic changes in eating patterns in high income countries could reduce per capita greenhouse gas emissions by 25-50%.
To read the full article on meat consumption and climate change on the epha.org website
All populations will be affected by climate change, but some are more vulnerable than others. In Europe it will be people living on small islands, in coastal regions and on rivers who will be particularly vulnerable.
WHO have produced a fact sheet on climate change and health which provides key facts, outlines patterns of infection, measures health effects and details the WHO’s response.
The key facts include:
- Climate change affects the social and environmental determinants of health – clean air, safe drinking water, sufficient food and secure shelter.
- Between 2030 and 2050, climate change is expected to cause approximately 250,000 additional deaths per year, from malnutrition, malaria, diarrhoea and heat stress.
- The direct damage costs to health (i.e. excluding costs in health-determining sectors such as agriculture and water and sanitation), is estimated to be between US$ 2-4 billion/year by 2030.
- Areas with weak health infrastructure – mostly in developing countries – will be the least able to cope without assistance to prepare and respond.
- Reducing emissions of greenhouse gases through better transport, food and energy-use choices can result in improved health, particularly through reduced air pollution.
In 2015, the WHO Executive Board endorsed a new work plan on climate change and health. This includes:
- Partnerships: to coordinate with partner agencies within the UN system, and ensure that health is properly represented in the climate change agenda.
- Awareness raising: to provide and disseminate information on the threats that climate change presents to human health, and opportunities to promote health while cutting carbon emissions.
- Science and evidence: to coordinate reviews of the scientific evidence on the links between climate change and health, and develop a global research agenda.
- Support for implementation of the public health response to climate change: to assist countries to build capacity to reduce health vulnerability to climate change, and promote health while reducing carbon emissions.
For more information on climate change and health on the who.int website
The WHO Regional Office for Europe has prepared a physical activity strategy to support the voluntary global targets set out in the WHO global action plan for the prevention and control of noncommunicable diseases 2013–2020.
The strategy focuses on physical activity as a leading factor in health and well-being in the European Region, with particular attention being paid to the burden of noncommunicable diseases associated with insufficient activity levels and sedentary behaviour. It aims to cover all forms of physical activity throughout an ordinary person’s life.
For more information and to download the physical activity strategy on the euro.who.int website.
The latest edition of the Global Nutrition Report has been released.
This Report acts as a report card on the world’s nutrition—globally, regionally, and country by country—and on efforts to improve it. It assesses progress in meeting Global Nutrition Targets established by the World Health Assembly.
For more information about the Global Nutrition Report on the globalnutritionreport.org website
In 2010 outdoor air pollution caused more than 3 million premature deaths around the world and the OECD is predicting this will rise to between 6 and 9 million premature deaths a year by 2060, with elderly people and children most vulnerable. These projections imply a doubling, or even tripling, of premature deaths from dirty air – or one premature death every four or five seconds – by 2060.
In their latest report “The economic consequences of air pollution” they estimate the cost of this to be 1% of global GDP or €2.6 trillion as a result of sick days, medical bills and reduced agricultural output.
For more information and to download the report on air pollution from the oecd.org website.
UNICEF has launched a campaign – ENDviolence online – to highlight the perils of the internet for children today.
As part of this campaign it has produced a report “Perils and possibilities: growing up online” which showcases young people’s perceptions of the risks children and adolescents face coming of age in the digital world. As the boundary between online and offline fades, explore what children face in the ether today – and how we can all support them.
To download the report and find out more about the campaign for internet safety for children on the unicef.org website.
Tara Duthie, who lives in Stirling, Scotland tried to quit smoking four times in 5 years. Then, in 2015 aged just 49, she had a heart attack – it was a wake-up call she could not ignore. She started using an app to help her stop smoking which not only gave her information about physiological changes but also had little games that she could play to distract herself for the 3 or 4 minutes a craving for a cigarette would last.
Smart phone apps that help with lifestyle change are growing in popularity. However, few public health authorities have mechanisms in place to regulate their quality or have a strategy to guide how they could be used for health promotion.
According to the latest e-health report, “From innovation to implementation – e-health in the WHO European Region“, the health authorities of 22 countries in the Region promote the development and adoption of m-health (mobile health) in the health sector. Around a quarter (11 countries) report that their health authorities regulate mobile devices and software for quality, safety and reliability. In 7 countries the health authorities play no role in the development or adoption of m-health. The report further shows that, when governments sponsor m-health programmes, they are also more likely to provide incentives and guidance on innovation and evaluation, as well as regulation for their use.
For more information about mobile health and smoking on the euro.who.int website