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Guides on the EU Health policy.
European Partnership Action Against Cancer: contribution of EU-funded research
On 24 June, the European Commission adopted the Communication, 'Action Against Cancer: European Partnership', to support the Member States in their efforts to tackle this major health challenge. One of the four proposed areas for action within this Partnership is the coordination of cancer research. This background note provides further information on the European Union's commitment to cancer research and its coordination in Europe.
Bathing water quality - Annual report, 2009 bathing season
The annual bathing water report presented by the European Commission and the European Environment Agency on 10 June reveals that the large majority of bathing sites across the European Union met EU hygiene standards in 2008. During that bathing season some 96% of coastal bathing areas and 92% of bathing sites in rivers and lakes complied with minimum standards. The report provides useful water quality information for the millions of people who visit Europe's beaches every summer.
Human swine influenza A(H1N1) - briefing
Swine influenza (swine flu) is an acute viral infection of the respiratory tract in pigs caused by type A influenza virus. The mortality rate is low in pigs and recovery usually occurs within 7-10 days. Swine origin influenza viruses also occur in wild birds, poultry, horses and humans, but interspecies transmission is considered a rare event. So far three influenza type A virus subtypes: H1N1, H1N2 and H3N2 have been found in pigs.
EU pesticide review programme
The European Commission made today an important step forward in its efforts to ensure improved protection of human health and the environment, as it completed the review of existing pesticides that were on the market before 1993. This programme concerned about 1,000 substances, of which about 250 have passed the harmonised EU safety assessment. All reviewed pesticides have undergone a detailed risk evaluation with respect to their effects on humans and on the environment. This important achievement is the result of a considerable joint effort by the Commission, the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) and the Member States.
Report on cancer screening in Europe - briefing
Cancer is the second most common cause of death in the European Union. Breast, cervical and colorectal cancer accounts for 32% of cancer deaths in women and 11% in men. With an ageing population, the figures are due to increase, unless preventive measures are taken to reduce cancer deaths. The European Union shares a common commitment to ensuring proper screening for breast, cervical and colorectal cancer, as set out in Council Recommendation of 2 December 2003 on cancer screening (2003/878/EC). In the first implementation report, the European Commission highlights that although much progress has been made in the field of cancer screening, Member States have not fully put this screening in place. Less than half of the minimum recommended numbers of screenings take place in the EU each year. By providing a clear description of the situation and the gaps, this report helps to renew the commitment to put in place breast, cervical and colorectal cancer screening as a crucial and cost-effective measure to reduce the burden of cancer in the European Union.
Patient safety in Europe - briefing
Each year, in the EU, between 8% and 12% of patients admitted to hospitals suffer harm from the healthcare they receive, including from healthcare associated infections. Much of that harm is preventable, says the European Commission. Today, the Commission has adopted a Communication and proposal for a Council Recommendation with specific actions that EU Member States can take, either individually, collectively or with the Commission, to improve the safety of patients.
EU Directive and Action Plan on organ donation and transplantation - briefing
The European Commission has adopted important safety and quality measures for organ donation and a 10 point action plan to work with EU Member States on strengthening organ donation and transplantation systems in Europe. For many patients, organ transplantation represents the only life saving treatment available. There are currently 56,000 patients waiting for a suitable organ donor in the EU. It is estimated that every day 12 people die while waiting for transplantation. The Directive and Action Plan address three key challenges: improving the quality and safety of organs across Europe, increasing organ availability and making transplant systems more efficient and accessible.
EU approach to tackling Rare Diseases - briefing
The European Commission adopted on 11 November 2008 a Communication and a proposal for a Council Recommendation on rare diseases setting out an overall Community strategy to support EU Member States in diagnosing, treating and caring for the 36 million EU citizens with rare diseases. The limited number of patients affected and the fragmentation of knowledge about them across the European Union, makes rare diseases a prime example of where working at European level is necessary and beneficial.
Health risks from exposure to noise from personal music players - briefing
Listening to personal music players at a high volume over a sustained period can lead to permanent hearing damage, according to an opinion of the EU Scientific Committee on Emerging and Newly Identified Health Risks (SCENIHR) released today. The scientific opinion shows that 5-10 per cent of personal music player listeners risk permanent hearing loss, if they listen to a personal music player for more than one hour per day each week at high volume settings for at least 5 years. The European Commission had asked the independent scientific committee to examine this issue, given the widespread use of personal music players and the surge in the number of young people exposed to such noise. Scientists confirm that there is cause for concern and the European Commission will now examine with EU Member States and stakeholders, possible measures that could be taken to better protect children and adolescents from exposure to noise from personal music players and other similar devices.
EU ban on mercury exports - briefing
The EU Council today adopted legislation banning all exports of mercury from the European Union. The export ban is a key part of the EU's strategy for reducing the global supply of mercury and thereby limiting emissions of the highly toxic heavy metal into the environment. The legislation requires mercury that is no longer used in the chlor-alkali industry – the chemical industry sector responsible for chlorine and caustic soda production – or that is produced in certain other industrial operations, to be put into safe storage once the export ban takes effect in March 2011.
Excise duty on tobacco products - guide
The European Commission presented on 16 July a Report and a proposal for a Directive to amend the current EU excise duty legislation on tobacco. The draft EU Directive foresees a gradual increase in the EU minimum taxation levels on cigarettes and fine cut tobacco up to 2014. It also updates the definitions of different types of tobacco products so as to remove loopholes which allow certain cigarettes or fine cut tobacco to be presented as cigars, cigarillos or pipe tobacco and therefore benefiting from a lower tax rate. Today's proposal will narrow differences between EU Member States' tobacco taxation levels and so help tackle intra-EU tobacco smuggling. It would also make the taxation rules more transparent, thereby creating a level playing field for manufacturers and giving flexibility to Member States to set minimum taxes. It also aims to contribute to reducing tobacco consumption by 10 per cent within the next 5 years.
European Health Insurance Card - guide
Four years after its launch, 173 million people have a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) in their pocket. Citizens from 31 European countries can use the card to get the medical care they need if they fall ill or have an accident in one of the participating countries (the EU, Norway, Liechtenstein Iceland and Switzerland). The EHIC simplifies procedures and cuts red tape for citizens when disaster strikes during a temporary stay abroad.
Sunscreen products - EU guide
As the holiday season gets underway, the European Commission is alerting consumers to a new sunscreen labelling regime which gives consumers clear information to make informed choices about the products they chose for themselves and their families. Sunscreen products protect from UV radiation and can be effective in preventing sun-burn and skin cancer. Consumers should therefore use sunscreens and clearer labelling should help consumers to make informed choices. The Commission is also seeking to remind consumers that there are several reasons why sunscreen products should be only one out of a number of measures to protect from the UV radiation of the sun. See information, facts and figures and pictograms below.
HIV / AIDS in Europe - guide
AIDS has already claimed the lives of more than 25 million people throughout the world, while an estimated 33.2 million live with HIV – alarming numbers highlighting the need to remain vigilant vis-à-vis one of the most destructive epidemics in recorded history. To mark World AIDS Day, commemorated every year on December 1 2007, Health Commissioner Markos Kyprianou invited European Health Ministers to join him in a pan-European effort to spread common messages on prevention and increasing the awareness and knowledge about HIV/AIDS among young Europeans. He encouraged ministers to visit schools and 11 countries agreed to participate in this initiative. The Commissioner visited a high school in Cyprus, where he presented a new TV-spot promoting the use of condoms and safer sex and have a chat with teenage students on HIV/AIDS.
European Community Animal Health Policy 2007-13
The European Commission adopted on 19 September 2007 a Communication setting out the EU's animal health strategy for 2007-13. The Communication provides the framework for animal health measures over the next 6 years, taking into account extensive feedback from stakeholders and potential challenges in the future. The Commission's aim is to put greater focus on precautionary measures, disease surveillance, controls and research, in order to reduce the incidence of animal disease and minimise the impact of outbreaks when they occur. The Communication also stresses that all those with an interest in animal health with have clear responsibilities in ensuring that the goals of the new strategy are met, so that the EU's animal health policy is as robust, efficient and effective as possible in the years ahead. It also highlights the need for an integrated approach in animal health policy-making, inter-linking it with other Community policies.
EU influenza research projects
The European Commission announced on 11 September 2007 EUR 27 million of new funding for research projects in the field of influenza. This EC memo outlines the 11 projects pre-selected for funding. Final budget figures (EU contribution) and project details are subject to the final signature of contracts, and so may change. A glossary of terms used in the project descriptions is found at the end of the document.
EU initiatives to promote physical exercise - questions & answers
The European Commission and the Union of European Football Associations (UEFA) are launching a joint TV advertising campaign that aims to encourage European citizens to make physical activity part of their daily lives. The advert encourages viewers to get out of their armchairs and be physically active, using the slogan "Go on, get out of your armchair'. Millions of Europeans are expected to view the advert, as it will be screened free of charge during the half-time break of this season’s televised Champions League football games. This initiative comes at a time when poor diets and low levels of physical activity in Europe account for six of the seven leading risk factors for ill health in Europe. The lack of physical exercise, coupled with unbalanced diets, has turned obesity into a serious public health problem. In most EU Member States more than half of the adult population is overweight or obese. It is also estimated that almost 22 million children are overweight in the EU and each year this figure is growing by 400,000.
Sunscreen products: EU guide
The European Commission on 9 July 2007 launched an information initiative to alert consumers to a new sunscreen labelling regime which will be phased in from summer 2007. Sunscreen products protect from UV radiation and can be effective in preventing sun-burn and skin cancer. The EC says consumers should use sunscreens, and clearer labelling should help consumers to make informed choices. Through this information campaign the Commission is also seeking to remind consumers that there are several reasons why sunscreen products should be only one out of a number of measures to protect from the UV radiation of the sun.
EU reform of the wine market
The European Commission on 4 July adopted proposals for a wide-ranging reform of the EU's Common Market Organisation for wine. This aims to increase the competitiveness of EU producers, win back markets, balance supply and demand, simplify the rules, preserve the best traditions of EU wine production, reinforce the social fabric of rural areas and respect the environment. Under the proposals, all the inefficient market support measures – various aids for distillation, private storage aid, export refunds – would be abolished from day one. The addition of sugar to enrich wine – chaptalisation – would be banned, and aid for must for enrichment, introduced to compensate for the higher cost compared to chaptalisation, would also be abolished. Crisis distillation would be replaced by two crisis management measures, paid for from national financial envelopes. Much more money would go into promoting EU wine, particularly on third country markets. For a five-year transitional period, planting restrictions would be kept in place and uncompetitive producers would have the possibility to leave the sector with attractive financial support. After 2013, restrictions on planting would be lifted to allow competitive producers to expand their production if they so choose. Labelling rules would be made simpler, certain wine making practices accepted by all producer countries in the International Organisation of Vine and Wine would be adopted by the EU and quality policy would be based on a geographical origin approach. EU Member States would receive a national financial envelope and a menu of actions to allow them to take measures best suited to the local situation. More money would go into Rural Development to fund measures including the setting up of young wine producers and environmental protection.
Health and Nutrition Claims: Questions and Answers
Questions and Answers about the EU Regulation on Health and Nutrition Claims.