WHO Europe launches new action plan for chronic diseases
On September 7, 2016 the WHO Europe launched its new action plan for chronic diseases, and is appealing for urgent joint policy action from individual countries to achieve global goals and targets.
The new Action Plan for NCDs, is structured around 2 objectives for European region countries:
- To take integrated action on risk factors (smoking, alcohol misuse, poor diet, inactivity etc) and their underlying determinants across sectors
- To strengthen health systems for improved prevention programmes and control of NCDs
Targeted actions are 3-fold:
1. Promoting population-level health promotion and disease prevention programmes
2. Actively targeting specific groups at high risk; and
3. Maximizing population coverage with effective treatment and care.
Priority interventions at population level include food product reformulation and improvement: salt, fats and sugars; salt reduction; promoting healthy consumption via fiscal and marketing policies on tobacco, alcohol, processed food; promoting physical activity; promoting clean air.
On salt reduction, the envisioned action is to “develop, extend and evaluate salt reduction strategies to continue progress across food product categories and market segments”.
Priority interventions at individual level include cardio-metabolic risk assessment and management; early detection and treatment of major NCDs.
Supporting interventions include the promotion of mental health.
The full action plan is available here . It will be further discussed during the regional committee meeting on 12-15th September.
The WHO’s news story on this topic is as follows:
WHO Europe launches new action plan for noncommunicable diseases, appeals for urgent joint policy action to achieve global goals and targets
The WHO European Region has made progress in key areas of noncommunicable disease (NCD) control: death rates from cardiovascular disease (CVD) continue to decline, the clear downward trend in smoking continues, and alcohol intake is steadily decreasing. However, this overall European picture masks significant differences within and between countries and population groups; WHO/Europe estimates that the Region will fall short of the global goals of reducing tobacco use and physical inactivity and simply fail to halt the rise in obesity unless action is accelerated.
"We know that managing noncommunicable diseases and conditions can unlock unimaginable health gains. Actions taken today by the whole of government will determine whether countries succeed in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). People who will die in middle age in 2030 from preventable causes are young adults today. There could not be a greater sense of urgency if we want to prolong lives," said WHO Regional Director for Europe, Dr Zsuzsanna Jakab. "Tackling cardiovascular disease (CVD) is one example of the need for joined-up policy action. CVD is the leading cause of premature mortality within the European Region. Reducing this burden requires focusing on population-level, targeted approaches across a wide range of issues – tobacco control, alcohol control, reducing consumption of salt and saturated and trans fats, and hypertension control." Dr Jakab continued.
Need for increased focus on management of noncommunicable disease
Although population-level interventions and improvements in health care contribute considerably to the declining mortality rates in many countries, there is vast room for improvement in both areas. For example, better detection and control of raised blood pressure and high cholesterol at population level could have immediate effect – yet these conditions are diagnosed, treated and controlled in only a fraction of the general population identified as being at high risk. In addition, although cardiac rehabilitation programmes assist in recovery from heart attacks and stroke, improve quality of life and reduce the likelihood of further illness, cardiac rehabilitation and secondary prevention are among the most under-used interventions. For instance, only half of all coronary patients are advised to participate in a secondary prevention and/or rehabilitation programme.
Accelerating health gains through a shared risk factor approach
The WHO European Region will launch a new action plan for NCDs at the Regional Committee meeting in Copenhagen in September 2016. The plan outlines actions to considerably reduce the burden of NCDs, improve quality of life and make healthy life expectancy more equitable. For example, many conditions are not detected early enough for effective treatment: 30–40% of cancers in eastern Europe have already spread by the time they are diagnosed. Some diseases can be diagnosed early by raising the awareness of the general public and professionals of the early signs and symptoms. In addition to early detection of NCDs, the action plan advocates the use of fiscal policies and marketing restrictions to promote healthy eating, reformulating food products so that trans fats are eliminated and saturated fats are replaced by unsaturated fats, reducing salt and sugar without adding harmful alternatives and increasing physical activity and reducing sedentary behaviour through health system and environmental modifications.
The plan also highlights how gains in one area benefit other conditions. Achieving the SDGs requires focusing on a broader set of risk factors and determinants, particularly unhealthy diets, physical inactivity, overweight and obesity and two new elements of the NCD action plan: air pollution and early detection and management of disease.
The WHO NCD project office based in the Russian Federation is initiating action in 23 countries, representing a major increase in capacity to address NCDs in the European Region. It is expected to lead the Region in using evidence-based best practices and to promote an intersectoral approach to communicating policy and sharing information. Priorities will be based on the NCD action plan, which can be seen as an important milestone on the way to the UN General Assembly in 2018, where the achievements of the UN Declaration of 2011 will be reviewed.