Open letter to Dr Von der Leyen, President-Elect of the European Commission: Cooperation and action in health

The European Chronic Disease Alliance sent a letter to Dr. Ursula Von der Leyen, President-Elect of the European Commission, to salute her commitments to climate action, to a full implementation of the European Pillar of Social Rights and to the setup of a European plan against cancer, as defined in her political guidelines for the incoming Commission; and stress the importance of complementing these actions with dedicated policies addressing chronic non-communicable diseases (NCDs) as a whole.

The ECDA encourages the President-Elect to ensure that a considerable impetus is given to action in health, with a strategic approach embedding health considerations across sectors; and to improved prevention of NCDs.

The European Union has the means and the legal competence needed. This necessitates a composition and structure of the incoming European Commission that provides a dedicated “policy home” for health and political leadership. Health deserves political dedication from the highest levels.

The full letter is available here.

 


ECDA Statement on World No Tobacco Day 2019

Policy-making and public information should always stem from independent, evidence-based research

Smoking is the largest avoidable health risk in the EU and a major risk factor for chronic diseases such as cancer, respiratory and cardiovascular diseases, chronic kidney disease and hypertension. Despite ongoing efforts by policymakers, Europe has a high prevalence of tobacco use by adults (26% of the overall population) and young Europeans aged 15-24 (29% respectively).

Tobacco is responsible for nearly 700,000 premature deaths annually in the EU. In 2018, approximately 430 000 people died from lung cancer. Diseases of the respiratory system accounted for 8.5 % of all deaths in the EU in 2015. Tobacco consumption accounted for 3.6% of total COPD deaths in the European Region in 2017. Tobacco use and second-hand smoke exposure contribute to approximately 17% of all cardiovascular deaths. Smoking also has a major economic impact on our societies.

Tobacco control and smoking cessation remain the most effective means to support the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 3 target 3.4 of a one-third reduction of premature deaths from noncommunicable diseases (NCDs) globally by 2030, in addition to combating the onset of chronic diseases. Further, a key target for Goal 3 is to “strengthen the implementation of the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (WHO FCTC) in all countries, as appropriate”. Indeed, full implementation of the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (WHO FCTC) is critical to addressing the negative downstream effects of tobacco use.

ECDA commends the progress made by the WHO and the EU in the areas of: plain packaging, mandatory combined health warnings on packs and the focus of the EU Health Award 2018 on initiatives to prevent tobacco use, the promotion of smoke-free environmental laws and prohibition of characterising flavours in certain products. However, efforts must be sustained to enhance a smoke-free environment that safeguards Europe’s citizens from chronic diseases caused by tobacco and attain the associated economic benefits.

Further, citizens should be informed of the consequences of using tobacco products and the effects on human health based on independent, scientific research findings.

To mark World No Tobacco Day 2019, the ECDA calls on all EU Member States and the European Commission to take the necessary measures to guarantee that independent research, which constitutes irrefutable evidence, is the basis of policy-making and used to inform consumers of the health effects of consumption of tobacco and tobacco-related products.

Read the full statement here.

Further facts and evidence for action

  • Europe has the highest rates of tobacco consumption of any WHO region globally.
  • Tobacco consumption in people aged 15-24 has increased 5% since 2014.
  • While avoidable, the health risks associated with tobacco consumption are the leading cause of premature death;  approximately 50% of European smokers die prematurely (on average 14 years earlier).
  • About 15% of the European population had tried e-cigarettes at least once in their life in 2017.

Immediate EU action on non-communicable diseases could help save almost 2 million lives by 2025

The European Chronic Disease Alliance (ECDA), the European Public Health Alliance (EPHA) and the NCD Alliance publish a new joint paper “Towards an EU-Strategic Framework for the prevention of Non-communicable Diseases” concluding that a new EU-level strategic framework to prevent non-communicable diseases (NCDs) is needed to address the chronic diseases epidemic.

With 70% of respondents to a recent EU Barometer survey wanting to see more EU action on health and with epidemic levels of NCDs undermining people’s well-being, healthcare systems, and Europe’s economic and social prosperity, preventing NCDs should be a main priority for the next European Commission.

The report provides a series of basic principles, priorities and actions, setting out a roadmap for EU policy-makers to make change happen.

Core to the future Strategic Framework are a number of tangible actions, including:

  • Rolling out NCD prevention policies recommended by the World Health Organization (WHO)
  • Designing EU financial instruments that support national investment in prevention
  • Pursuing ‘EU flagship initiatives’ in areas that can deliver co-benefits for NCD prevention and other Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)
  • Identifying and rectifying EU barriers to the implementation of national NCD prevention strategies
  • Establishing a pan-European system for data collection, policy evaluation and accountability
  • Ensuring thorough inter-institutional coordination on health and well-being

Download the full paper.

Download the summary version.

Read the Press Release

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“Few issues are as close to people as their health. There is no doubt that the EU has the legal power to act to prevent non-communicable diseases, the 21st century’s foremost health threat. This paper presents the incoming European Commission with concrete ways to make change happen to promote people’s health and well-being. We hope they will have the courage to take action”

Freek Spinnewijn, President, European Public Health Alliance (EPHA).

“Disease prevention is a fundamental component of sustainable development, economic growth and a healthy society. As we are entering a new cycle of EU political leadership, an EU Strategic Framework for NCD Prevention would guide and articulate existing and future initiatives in the field, while being an additional concrete example of the EU added value in health”

Prof. Em. Raymond Vanholder, President, European Chronic Disease Alliance (ECDA).


Don't pass the salt! ECDA position paper on the need for EU action to help Europeans reduce excessive salt intake

The ECDA supports the EU’s efforts to reduce Europeans’ salt consumption, but insists on the need for a more rigorous and concerted action plan which engages stakeholders and the public in salt reduction initiatives, and is bolstered by regulatory measures to stimulate the reformulation of food, provide clear and meaningful information to consumers and is followed up by an adequate monitoring system of salt intake.

Reducing salt intake from the present norm of 8-12 grams toward the recommended level of 5 grams per day would significantly improve public health by preventing many chronic diseases, thereby reducing mortality and saving healthcare costs.

Click here to download the document (revised version September 2017).


Don’t bottle out – why the EU needs a comprehensive alcohol strategy

The harmful and hazardous use of alcohol has a major impact on public health as it leads to over 60 chronic diseases. It also generates outstanding healthcare and social costs related to the treatment of alcohol-related diseases, public order, labour and productivity. The ECDA encourages the EU to take comprehensive action to help Europeans reduce their alcohol consumption. Click here to download the paper (revised version September 2017)


The good, the bad and the ugly – why the EU should eliminate industrially produced trans fats

European Chronic Disease Alliance position on the need for EU regulation to set upper limits for industrially produced trans fats. Considering the substantial evidence on the negative impact of TFAs on human health, ECDA recommends that the European Commission adopts a proposal for an EU-wide regulation to virtually eliminate industrially produced TFAs in food products marketed in the EU no later than 2018.

Click here to download the document (revised version September 2017).


Particulates Matter: why the EU must do more to tackle air pollution

While some progress is being made, the reality remains that the majority of EU citizens are exposed to air pollution levels which are actively harmful to their health. In this context, the ECDA has issued a revised position paper with further information on the link between air pollution and ill health, and policy recommendations for change. Click here to read the paper (revised version September 2017).


“Move it - some is better than none”: Stepping up initiatives to increase physical activity in Europe

In the context of the European Week of Sport 2017, ECDA has issued a position paper on physical inactivity, which provides important information on the links between health and regular physical activity, and encourages Member States and the European Commission to step up initiatives to increase physical activity in Europe, taking further steps by 2020 to contribute to the achievement of the UN Sustainable Development Goal 3 of reducing by one third premature mortality from non-communicable diseases by 2030. Click here to read the paper.


“Move it - some is better than none”: Stepping up initiatives to increase physical activity in Europe

In the context of the European Week of Sport 2017, ECDA has issued a position paper on physical inactivity, which provides important information on the links between health and regular physical activity, and encourages Member States and the European Commission to step up initiatives to increase physical activity in Europe, taking further steps by 2020 to contribute to the achievement of the UN Sustainable Development Goal 3 of reducing by one third premature mortality from non-communicable diseases by 2030. Click here to read the paper.


ECDA Statement on World No Tobacco Day

The ECDA calls for sustained efforts to enhance a smoke-free environment. This is an essential prerequisite if we are to get serious about protecting Europe's citizens from chronic diseases caused by tobacco smoking and generate savings for our economies. Read the full ECDA statement here.