Pan European Networks - Horizon 2020 - page 172

Nevertheless, there were important European
and global advancements in 2014, including
the organisation of the first EU Summit on
Chronic Diseases by the former European
commissioner for health, Tonio Borg. The
summit’s conclusions were far reaching: the
recognition of the need for stronger political
leadership, evidence and information; a focus
on societal challenges; enhanced prevention
policies; and the involvement of citizens,
patients and professionals as a way to hinder
the chronic diseases epidemic.
The 2014 United Nations review and
assessment of the progress achieved in the
prevention and control of NCDs saw the
reaffirmation of the UN member states’
commitment to address the threat posed by
these diseases, and identified key cost-effective
and affordable interventions that can be
implemented by any country in order to reduce
the risk factors associated with NCDs. These
include warning people of the dangers of
tobacco or banning all forms of its advertising.
Furthermore, the EU adopted a revision of the
Tobacco Products Directive. This strengthened
the rules on tobacco products and helped to
make them and their consumption less
attractive. Chronic diseases were also identified
as a priority by the current Council of the
European Union Trio Presidency of Italy, Latvia
and Luxembourg.
2015 action
Now that the new College of Commissioners is
firmly in place, we need to think about and
assess how the European Commissioner for
Health and Food Safety, Vytenis Andriukaitis, will
ensure that health is implemented into all EU
policy areas, chronic diseases included, where
impact is needed. Areas that need to be
considered include the environment,
hronic non-communicable diseases (NCD) account for 86%
of deaths in the WHO European Region. Nine out of ten people
die of a chronic disease, making them the number one killer
in Europe. Major chronic diseases include cardiovascular, kidney, liver
and respiratory diseases, cancer, diabetes, allergies, and hypertension.
In Europe, 77% of the total disease burden (measured in disability-
adjusted life years) is accounted for by chronic diseases, and 60% of
the disease burden is due to common risk factors, including tobacco,
poor diet, alcohol, environmental factors and lack of physical activity. In
OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development)
countries, on average only 3% of total health expenditure goes towards
population-wide public prevention and 97% of health expenses are spent
on treatment. It is estimated that chronic diseases cost the EU economy
€700bn annually, and by investing additional funds in prevention, the EU
can promote good health for its citizens and reduce the socioeconomic
burden of chronic diseases.
2014 breakthroughs
Unfortunately, at European level, the most important breakthroughs are
yet to be realised. There is currently a lack of specific targets by the
European Commission for tackling NCDs in terms of both horizontal
approaches as well as, in some cases, disease-specific actions.
Examples of disease-specific actions at EU level include the European
Partnership for Action Against Cancer and most recently the Joint Action
on Cancer Control. More importantly, the Commission is still to create
an EU framework on chronic diseases.
H O R I Z O N 2 0 2 0 P R O J E C T S : P O R TA L
H E A L T H : D I S E A S E R E S E A R C H
Chronic test
Professor Johan de Sutter,
acting chairman of the European Chronic Disease
Alliance, sets the scene for tackling chronic diseases and outlines what action
the European Commission needs to take
Professor Dr Johan
de Sutter
Senile cardiac
amyloidosis: major
chronic diseases
include cardiovascular
© Nephron
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