EU initiatives and Progress on Chronic Diseases - Open letter to Timmermans, Andriukaitis and Katainen

ECDA together with other ten health organisations sends an open letter to high level Commission officials in the follow up of the conference ''Towards better prevention and management of chronic diseases'' of 21 April. Click here to read the letter.

ECDA speaks at EC conference about Preventing Chronic Diseases – opportunities for patients and citizens

ECDA was invited by the European Commission to present its views at the conference Towards better prevention and management of chronic diseases, organized in Brussels on 21 April.

Prof. Johan De Sutter, Acting Chairman of ECDA, spoke on behalf of the alliance and highlighted that an EU chronic disease framework is urgently needed in order to address the human and economic costs of chronic diseases in a coordinated manner. In his presentation Preventing Chronic Diseases – opportunities for patients and citizens, he put forward concrete recommendations for the EC to develop initiatives on common risk factors such as salt, trans-fatty acids (TFAs), alcohol and air pollution.

ECDA members were delighted to hear that several Member States and health NGOs called as well for an EU strategy on chronic diseases, recognizing the gravity of the chronic diseases burden that negatively affect European citizens’ lives.

The video recording of the conference can be accessed here.

ECDA Call to Action for a Comprehensive EU Framework on Chronic Diseases by 2017

Our Mission:

To reverse the alarming rise in chronic diseases by providing leadership and policy recommendations based on contemporary evidence.

Our Objectives



  • Build an environment that promotes health and encourages citizens to make healthy choices

    • Continue supporting the School Fruit Scheme
    • EU structural and agricultural funds should contribute to creating healthier societies
    • Employ regulatory interventions to restrict advertising for unhealthy products, especially to children, and potentially for setting compositional standards, e.g. salt and fat

    Enhance cooperation on research and ensure availability of comparable data

    • To overcome the existing fragmentation and duplication of research in Europe in the health field, human health must be at the core. There is a major gap in translational research in Europe and better care delivery will only be possible if sustainable networks across Europe join together and share their resources to tackle the scientific challenges
    • Comparable data at EU level on incidence, prevalence, risk factors and outcomes, is urgently needed. EU registries are clearly missing

    Devote resources to health care

    • eHealth interventions hold promises but more research into effectiveness and cost-effectiveness is needed
    • Educate and train health care personnel so that they can deliver optimal health, including but not limited to caring for patients with multiple chronic conditions

    Intervene on health determinants: tobacco, food and nutrition, alcohol and physical activity. Priority areas:

    • Introduce mandatory standardised packaging of cigarettes with 80% of front and back devoted to pictorial health warnings
    • Adopt a nutrient profiling system that will allow health and nutrition claims only on healthier options
    • Ensure the implementation of the WHO Global Strategy to Reduce the Harmful Use of Alcohol
    • Prioritise the needs of pedestrians and cyclists over those of motorists in urban development and ensure easy access to facilities encouraging physical activitying chronic diseases

    Invest in prevention measures to tackle chronic diseases

    • Early detection and diagnosis, implementation of population-based quality assured screening programmes, evaluation of social inequalities and development of novel tools to detect chronic disease in at-risk populations are all measures that should be encouraged at Member State level
    • Austerity measures adopted by many European countries have seriously affected access to care for chronic disease patients. Yet, the economic crisis should be used as an opportunity to explore new and innovative ways of tackling chronic diseases

The definition of chronic diseases according to the World Health Organization is:

Chronic diseases are diseases of long duration and generally slow progression. Chronic diseases, such as heart disease, stroke, cancer, chronic respiratory diseases and diabetes, are by far the leading cause of mortality in Europe, representing 77% of the total disease burden and 86% of all deaths. These diseases are linked by common risk factors, underlying determinants and opportunities for intervention.