“Our ability to make our health and social security systems to be sustainable and resilient to crises depends in no small part on how successful we can be in stemming the global epidemic of non-communicable diseases,” said Prof Martin McKee of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine today at the European Health Forum Gastein (EHFG).
“Non-communicable diseases such as diabetes, cancer, cardiovascular disease and chronic lung conditions place a considerable burden on national economies. Yet the implementation of cost-effective priority interventions, backed by the necessary political will, requires few additional financial resources.” Individual countries will have to implement multisectoral packages of measures that go beyond health policy if they are to reach the UN goal of a 25 % reduction in premature mortality due to NCDs by 2025 (the 25 by 25 goal), Prof McKee went on to say.
“Resilient and Innovative Health Systems for Europe” is the slogan for this year's EHFG. More than 550 participants from some 45 countries are attending Europe's most important health policy conference in Bad Hofgastein to exchange views on key issues affecting European health systems.
NCDs account for 77 % of all illnesses in the 53 countries that make up the WHO European Region, and they are the cause of 86 % of all deaths. According to the WHO Global Status Report, lifestyle diseases are responsible for 63 % of the 57 million deaths worldwide each year. The European Commission forecasts that in the European Union alone, the annual number of deaths caused by cancer will rise from 1.12 million in 2000 to 1.4 million in 2015. And by 2030, an estimated 66 million people in the EU will suffer from diabetes.
Economic risk factor
“It is precisely at these times of economic and social strain and instability resulting from the financial crisis that governments need to make this issue a high priority,” said Prof McKee. Due to the negative impact on economic activity, a 10% increase in cases of NCDs in a country can shave 0.5 % off economic growth, according to calculations by the World Bank.
Prof McKee believes that national action plans based on a three-stage approach offer an answer, with the three important phases being planning, implementation and accountability. “It is vital that actions are planned, driven and implemented across all parts of government, with strong political leadership from the top – this is definitely not just a task for health policy alone,” Prof McKee added. “And the success of such measures will ultimately depend on the extent to which civil society, academia and the private sector can be mobilised in support of the 25 by 25 goal.”
Reduce consumption of tobacco and salt, minimise heart attack risk
Experts recommend prioritising interventions in three major problem areas - namely to limit smoking, reduce salt consumption and provide preventive treatment for people at high risk of heart attack and stroke.
“We have many examples of success in tobacco control in Europe, but also many countries that have lagged behind,” Prof McKee stated. “The key elements of an effective anti-tobacco strategy are strong political commitment, combined with clear of responsibility and sufficient resources. The key elements of a successful strategy are action on prices, with steep tax rises, on where people can smoke, enforcing bans on smoking in indoor places, and on marketing, with plain packaging and bans on point of sales displays. It is also essential to counteract the growing presence of the tobacco industry on social media and in movies where they exploit product placement”. He also called for action to regulate electronic cigarettes as medicines and bans on advertising them, “given how the industry is using them to glamorise smoking once again.”
Another key challenge is to reduce salt consumption. “18% of deaths worldwide are attributable to raised blood pressure, which is often due to excess dietary salt intake,” Prof McKee explained. “A 15% reduction in salt intake over ten years could prevent 8.5 million deaths in the 23 countries that account for 80 % of the global NCD burden. This is not a question of encouraging individuals to use less salt; the key responsibility lies with food manufacturers as most of the salt people consume comes from processed foods.”
At the EHFG, Professor McKee identified the third priority as systematic, guideline-based treatment for people with a high risk of cardiovascular disease. Drugs that can prevent heart attacks and strokes need to be made easily accessible and as easy as possible to administer, for instance in fixed-dose combination pills for high blood pressure.
In addition to these three priorities, countries should implement a raft of other simple, cost-effective measures in order to achieve the 25 by 25 goal. These include policies and laws to reduce alcohol abuse and to encourage physical activity and a healthy diet, as well as the introduction of purposeful controls on food advertising and food prices.EHFG Press Office
Thea Roth | idw
GLUT5 fluorescent probe fingerprints cancer cells
20.04.2018 | Michigan Technological University
Scientists re-create brain neurons to study obesity and personalize treatment
20.04.2018 | Cedars-Sinai Medical Center
University of Connecticut researchers have created a biodegradable composite made of silk fibers that can be used to repair broken load-bearing bones without the complications sometimes presented by other materials.
Repairing major load-bearing bones such as those in the leg can be a long and uncomfortable process.
Study published in the journal ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces is the outcome of an international effort that included teams from Dresden and Berlin in Germany, and the US.
Scientists at the Helmholtz-Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf (HZDR) together with colleagues from the Helmholtz-Zentrum Berlin (HZB) and the University of Virginia...
Novel highly efficient and brilliant gamma-ray source: Based on model calculations, physicists of the Max PIanck Institute for Nuclear Physics in Heidelberg propose a novel method for an efficient high-brilliance gamma-ray source. A giant collimated gamma-ray pulse is generated from the interaction of a dense ultra-relativistic electron beam with a thin solid conductor. Energetic gamma-rays are copiously produced as the electron beam splits into filaments while propagating across the conductor. The resulting gamma-ray energy and flux enable novel experiments in nuclear and fundamental physics.
The typical wavelength of light interacting with an object of the microcosm scales with the size of this object. For atoms, this ranges from visible light to...
Stable joint cartilage can be produced from adult stem cells originating from bone marrow. This is made possible by inducing specific molecular processes occurring during embryonic cartilage formation, as researchers from the University and University Hospital of Basel report in the scientific journal PNAS.
Certain mesenchymal stem/stromal cells from the bone marrow of adults are considered extremely promising for skeletal tissue regeneration. These adult stem...
In the fight against cancer, scientists are developing new drugs to hit tumor cells at so far unused weak points. Such a “sore spot” is the protein complex...
13.04.2018 | Event News
12.04.2018 | Event News
09.04.2018 | Event News
20.04.2018 | Physics and Astronomy
20.04.2018 | Interdisciplinary Research
20.04.2018 | Physics and Astronomy