European Public Health Alliance: Immediate EU action on non-communicable diseases could help save almost 2 million lives by 2025

A new EU-level strategic framework to prevent non-communicable diseases (NCDs) is needed to put the brakes on the chronic diseases epidemic, concludes “Towards an EU-Strategic Framework for the prevention of Non-communicable Diseases”, the new joint paper by the European Chronic Disease Alliance (ECDA), the European Public Health Alliance (EPHA) and the NCD Alliance.

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 papers’ authors believe.

While progress is made on reducing premature mortality from NCDs, longer lives do not necessarily translate into healthy lives. Europeans spend between a quarter and a fifth of their lives in ill-health. €700 billion is spent on treating NCDs in the EU each year -although many chronic diseases are to a considerable degree preventable.

The paper proposes basic principles, priorities and actions for such an EU strategic framework, setting out a roadmap for 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.

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

Full article.