ECDA welcomes launch of WHO/Europe report on commercial determinants of NCDs

In an effort to highlight the variety of risk factors contributing to high rates of noncommunicable diseases (NCDs) throughout Europe, ECDA applauds and supports WHO/Europe’s forthcoming report on commercial determinants of health. The report will be officially launched at a Brussels-based forum on 12 June, hosted by the Belgian Ministry of Health and led by Frank Vandenbroucke, Belgian Minister of Social Affairs and Public Health.

Commercial determinants of health, or the ways in which commercial sector actors, products, and practices impact health outcomes, are known to contribute to the rise of NCDs across the region and globally.

ECDA is concerned with the role that certain industry operators and practices play in increasing population exposure to the main risk factors and drivers of NCDs, contributing to higher rates of NCDs, particularly through the marketing and promotion of tobacco and alcohol products. ECDA seconds WHO/Europe’s warnings on this matter. Marketing practices on social media and online platforms, targeted towards the younger generations, is particularly alarming.

ECDA further supports WHO/Europe’s efforts to engage policymakers on the issue of NCDs and believes the forthcoming report will be a critical tool in promoting this dialogue.

To build an NCD-free Europe, integrated action at the EU level that targets not just mortality from NCDs, but also their prevalence and underlying causes is essential. ECDA looks forward to the upcoming presentation of WHO/Europe’s strategies for protecting the public from the harmful effects of commercial activities and calls on EU policy leaders to maintain political urgency to put a halt to actions that undermine the response to NCDs.


ECDA calls for stronger measures to counteract increasing adolescent use of alcohol and tobacco across Europe

In the aftermath of the April 2024 WHO/Europe report highlighting the increased rates of tobacco and alcohol use amongst minors, ECDA underscores the heightened risk of non-communicable diseases (NCDs) associated with this consumption and calls on EU policymakers to pursue a robust plan of action to address this challenge.

WHO/Europe’s data suggests that the COVID-19 pandemic may be responsible for recent increases in excessive alcohol consumption and use of e-cigarettes among European, Central Asian, and Canadian adolescents ages 15 and up. The 2024 report states that 20% of surveyed 15-year-olds have experienced significant drunkenness and that around one-third have used e-cigarettes in their lifetime. The data further demonstrates that the gender gap in substance use has virtually disappeared, suggesting an overall increased rate of use among adolescent girls.

In light of these statistics, ECDA endorses WHO/Europe’s recommendation to ban alcohol advertisements on mainstream and social media and applauds WHO/Europe’s positive stance on implementing stronger taxation policies, such as minimum pricing and excise taxes, to combat rising alcohol use among youth. On the issue of tobacco use, ECDA supports the report’s recommendation to strengthen the existing enforcement mechanisms of current anti-tobacco laws and believes that addressing the threat posed by emerging tobacco products such as e-cigarettes is vital to promoting NCD-free societies.

ECDA stands with WHO/Europe in its efforts to draw attention to the detrimental effects of alcohol and tobacco and the need to construct a more extensive regulatory framework to combat this threat. Protecting and promoting adolescent health remains a critical component of any NCD prevention strategy, and ECDA strongly encourages policymakers to implement WHO/Europe’s proposed policies on this matter.


ECDA launches a campaign calling for action and investment in NCDs prevention and management

European Chronic Disease has launched a campaign for action and investment in NCDs prevention and management, titled “Investing in a healthy Europe, free of preventable NCDs”.

The campaign launched today, 20 weeks ahead of the Global Week for Action on NCDs, with the launch of a policy debate held in the European Parliament on “Investing in NCD prevention and control for better health in Europe”.

In Europe today, the prevalence of NCDs continues to rise, with a profound impact on the wellbeing of individuals and their families. NCDs are linked with considerable costs and place a substantial burden on health systems, economies and societies. Momentum on the importance of increasing efforts to both prevent and control NCDs in Europe is growing, and it is now crucial to adopt a strategic and holistic approach towards addressing NCDs that centres around prevention. Within this context, and against the backdrop of the 2024 European Union elections and the upcoming 4th High-Level Meeting of the UN General Assembly on the Prevention and Control of NCDs in 2025, this campaign brings together healthcare professionals, patient advocates, health economists, official health bodies and European Union policymakers with a united voice to speed up action. It provides a timely opportunity to reflect on priorities for the coming years.

Please find more information about the policy debate and the campaign here.

How to support the campaign:

  • You can show your support and add your voice to the campaign by signing up here.
  • We encourage you to relay the communications posted on a weekly basis on ECDA’s social media channels, and post your own messages.

 


Negotiators from the Parliament and Council reached a provisional political agreement on new measures to ensure air quality

The European Chronic Disease Alliance (ECDA) applauds the agreement between negotiators from the European Parliament and Council on new measures to ensure air quality in the EU is not harmful to human health, natural ecosystems, and biodiversity. With the aim to eliminate air pollution by 2050, this agreement marks a significant step towards ensuring a cleaner and healthier future for all Europeans.

The new rules set stricter 2030 limits and target values for several pollutants, including particulate matter (PM2.5, PM10), nitrogen dioxide (NO2), and sulphur dioxide (SO2), compared to current regulations. Notably, for the two pollutants with the highest documented impact on human health, PM2.5 and NO2, the annual limit values are to be more than halved from 25 µg/m³ to 10 µg/m³ and from 40 µg/m³ to 20 µg/m³, respectively.

This move comes at a crucial time as air pollution continues to pose a severe threat to public health. According to the World Health Organization (WHO) Europe region, an alarming 90% of deaths due to environmental factors, totaling 630,000 fatalities, result from NCDs.

The detrimental effects of air pollution extend to our younger generations, with more than 1,200 children and teenagers per year in Europe falling victim to its deadly consequences. Moreover, exposure to air pollution significantly increases the risk of disease later in life, highlighting the urgent need for action to mitigate its impact.

ECDA strongly recommends the smooth adoption by the European Parliament and Council of this agreement. By implementing these measures, we can safeguard the health and well-being of current and future generations and pave the way towards a cleaner and healthier Europe.


MEPs adopt the SANT report on NCDs

We are pleased to welcome the adoption of the Committee on Public Health’s (SANT) report on Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs) at the plenary on 13/12. The report holds promise in advancing public health and effectively addressing NCDs, aligning with our shared commitment to enhancing chronic disease prevention and management in the EU.

We appreciate the report's acknowledgment of the significant impact and challenges presented by NCDs in the EU, particularly its emphasis on the necessity to prevent and decrease their prevalence. Among the numerous valuable recommendations, ECDA firmly supports the proposal for an EU-wide comprehensive strategy on NCDs, reinforced by disease-specific plans or measures. Commendably, the report underscores the importance of focusing on health economics and improving data collection on NCDs.

We urge the Parliament to maintain its robust stance against modifiable common risk factors, such as tobacco and alcohol consumption, as well as environmental risks. We further encourage continued advocacy for stronger policies in addressing these factors, which significantly contribute to the burden of NCDs.

This Parliament report can serve as a roadmap for future EU action in this field and ECDA is committed to actively supporting the implementation of the report's recommendations to ensure the effective execution of strategies aimed at tackling NCDs within the EU.

 


Celebrating AWARH2023, Addressing the Impact of Alcohol on Chronic Diseases

Alcohol consumption continues to have significant impacts on Europeans’ health and lives, and societies. It is a major risk factor for chronic diseases and deeply linked to social inequalities. Despite strong evidence on the health risks associated with any level of alcohol use, Europe continues to have the highest global alcohol consumption. ECDA joins this year’s Awareness Week on Alcohol Related Harm (AWRAH) to continue advocating for positive change through robust EU policy action, to prevent and save lives.

AWRAH23’s theme, "Alcohol: The Right to Know," emphasises the importance of giving citizens all the means to be aware and educated about the impact of alcohol consumption on their health and wellbeing, in order to be able to make informed decisions.

Nearly 268,000 deaths and 8 million Disability-Adjusted Life Years (DALYs) in the EU in 2019 were attributable to alcohol-related chronic diseases. ECDA supports the European Commission's objective of achieving a 10% reduction in harmful alcohol consumption by 2025. To reach this goal, ECDA recommends:

  1. Mandatory Nutrition Labelling: ECDA supports mandatory ingredient labelling on all alcohol products. This empowers individuals with essential information.
  2. Implementing Preventive Measures: Advocating for preventive measures, including health warnings on alcohol labels, is critical. These warnings play a crucial role in raising awareness about the link between alcohol consumption and health, and the associated risks.
  3. Enforcing Effective Policies: The implementation of impactful policies, evidenced-based and supported by WHO, such as minimum unit pricing (MUP) and harmonisation of alcohol taxation is essential. These policies aim to discourage excessive alcohol consumption and can alleviate the significant burden of chronic diseases associated with alcohol use.
  4. Addressing Alcohol Marketing: Stricter regulations on alcohol marketing targeting youth and minors are crucial, including restrictions on advertising and sponsorships, particularly at events aimed at younger audiences. Protecting current and future generations and giving young people the opportunity to live in a health-conducive environment is a political responsibility.

 


European Alliance of Associations for Rheumatology

The European Chronic Disease Alliance welcomes EULAR as a new member

The European Alliance of Associations for Rheumatology (EULAR) has joined the European Chronic Disease Alliance, rallying its mission to improve chronic disease prevention and management across the EU.

This new addition brings the number of members of the Alliance to 13.

“EULAR is proud to be joining ECDA to support a coordinated European response to chronic diseases. Rheumatic and Musculoskeletal Diseases (RMDs) in particular are underrepresented in European health policy, despite affecting approximately 120 million Europeans and accounting for over 50% of Years Lived with Disabilities (YLDs) in Europe. We aim to support the development of improved quality of care, social policy helping mitigate the burden of disease, and improving prevention and treatment strategies” - Prof. Annamaria Iagnocco, incoming ECDA Steering Committee member & EULAR past-President

EULAR is the non-profit organisation that represents people with rheumatic and musculoskeletal diseases (RMDs), health professionals in rheumatology (HPR), rheumatologists and scientific societies of rheumatology of all the European nations.

“It is a pleasure to welcome EULAR as a member of our Alliance. Rheumatic and musculoskeletal diseases impact the lives of many EU citizens and are linked to many other types of chronic diseases represented within ECDA. By joining forces with EULAR, ECDA pursues its efforts to drive policy change for the benefit of those living or at risk of chronic diseases. The expertise of the rheumatology community will be a great asset to ECDA’s work, and at a critical time of the EU political cycle” - Prof. Em. Raymond Vanholder, Acting Chairman, European Chronic Disease Alliance

 

 


ECDA Letter - call for NCDs prevalence reduction in the EU and mobilising investment in prevention

In the context of the Global Week for Action on NCDs (14-21 September), ECDA encouraged EU policymakers to focus efforts on NCD prevalence reduction, mobilise investment in prevention and control, and implement necessary measures to effectively address NCDs in the EU.

Chronic non-communicable diseases have been a major health challenge for decades across Europe. No EU country is spared from the impact they have on citizens’ health, national healthcare systems, societies and economies, as further shown by the COVID-19 pandemic. The prevalence of NCDs continues to grow, fuelled by under-investment in prevention and control.

It is high time to take adequate action to reverse this trend. The EU NCDs initiative “Healthier Together” and the efforts driven at EU level thanks to the Expert Group on Public Health are welcome. They represent significant steps to achieve this goal. Yet, much remains to be done to effectively address NCDs in the EU. Aiming to reduce mortality from NCDs is not enough. Targets on reduced mortality are on track to be achieved in the EU, but people are living in a declining health condition.

ECDA encourages EU leaders to:

  • Mobilise resources for NCD prevention, notably by convening a High-Level Forum on Sustainable NCDs prevention in the EU by 2025.
  • Initiate a process to establish a holistic NCDs strategy for the EU, complemented by disease-specific plans where necessary, with clear targets for NCDs prevalence reduction in the EU by 2040 for all age groups (with intermediate targets for 2030).
  • Define a strategic and long-term vision for the EU as a whole, that does not leave behind any NCD nor EU country, addressing inequities and the specific needs of more vulnerable groups, including children and the elderly (often multi-morbid).
  • Commit to act and allocate funds to improve NCD prevention and care in the EU in the next years, for the benefit of the millions of citizens living with one or more chronic diseases and their families.
  • Address persisting data gaps in NCDs, which undermine effective responses and result in a misevaluation of the prevalence of certain types of NCDs and their burden. This is critical to improve disease knowledge, assess the real impact of the diseases and the cost of inaction, inform prevention and management plans; and anticipate any future challenges.
  • Set up an EU Ambassador for NCDs and an official EU NCDs Awareness Day (for instance, taking place during the Global Week) to stimulate greater knowledge-sharing and action.

Read the full letter here


Passing of MEP Véronique Trillet-Lenoir

 

ECDA members are very saddened to learn about the unfortunate news of the untimely passing of Véronique Trillet-Lenoir, an invaluable member of the European Parliament and a relentless advocate for the health and well-being of European citizens.

Véronique’s unwavering dedication and tireless efforts to champion improved EU policies for better healthcare and quality of life, in particular to support better prevention and management of chronic diseases, stand as a shining example of commitment. Her passion for creating positive change was matched by her determination to make a lasting impact.

On behalf of ECDA, we consider ourselves fortunate to have had the privilege of working closely with her, witnessing firsthand the depth of her dedication. As we mourn her loss, let us also celebrate her accomplishments and remember the indelible mark she has left on the path towards a healthier and more prosperous Europe - including her significant work to shape the Europe's Beating Cancer Plan, to improve health promotion and the response to chronic disease risk factors in Europe; and her support to more integrated approaches to chronic disease care.

In this difficult moment, on behalf of ECDA, we extend our heartfelt condolences to her family, colleagues and her loved ones.