Friday, June 8, 2018

European Plan for Women’s Health 2018. Health Promotion and Disease Prevention 3/6




4. Early Intervention Early intervention is key to improve women and family health and wellbeing.  Action must be taken early and at critical points to ensure health and wellbeing from childhood through old age.  Available evidence must be used to best identify entry points for various interventions—both at the population and individual level—specific to girls and women throughout their life.  Health inequities should be reduced by integrating sex and gender considerations into health promotion and disease prevention, programming and policy, devoting special attention to vulnerable and marginalised groups.  Different health patterns between men and women must be taken into account when designing policies and programmes, taking a life-long perspective to support health promotion and disease prevention.  Efforts such as cancer screening programmes, vaccination and promoting healthy lifestyles should be supported at local, national and European levels.

 5. Vaccination Strategy A coordinated and comprehensive life-course immunisation strategy must be adopted to target vulnerable people, such as pregnant women and older people.  Infectious diseases easily cross borders.  Therefore, collaboration and coordination for a common vaccination strategy that protects Europe’s population from infectious diseases must be improved and include all relevant stakeholders.  Robust pro-active communication programmes must also be developed to create a health- and vaccine-literate public that understands the benefit of vaccination for protecting both individuals and society from infectious diseases.  The Joint Action on Vaccination should include a diverse stakeholder pool to support activities, including combating vaccine hesitancy at EU and Member State level. 

 6. Antibiotic Research The growing antimicrobial resistance (AMR) is a public health threat that has been steadily increasing over the last decades. In the EU, results in 25,000 deaths annually at a cost of €1.5 billion per year in health costs and lost productivity.ii  Many common infections are becoming difficult or even impossible to treat, sometimes turning a simple infection into a life-threatening condition.  Citizens, patients, healthcare professionals, hospitals, veterinarian and farmers all have a role to play in fighting antimicrobial resistance. Women as the traditional family care givers can help to promote the prudent use of antibiotics in the family environment.  There is a need for clear and accessible information through sustained health literacy campaigns to ensure that the general public becomes more aware of the risks of the over-consumption of antibiotics and the associated dangers.  Research and development on new antibiotics must be urgently encouraged.

7. Maternal Health Maternal health is a vital point for public health intervention to reduce the burden of disease and promote wellbeing through encouragement of and healthy diets, taking folic acid, cessation of smoking and alcohol consumption as well as taking appropriate exercise.  Large variation exists across Member States with regard to preventing maternal morbidity and mortality.  Efforts to improve and share standards of maternal healthcare across Europe should be supported.  There is a lack of information and data about the safe use of medication during pregnancy and lactation for both women and their healthcare professionals, which must be urgently tackled. Research and pharmacovigilance must be improved to ensure safe and effective use of medicines during pregnancy and lactation in order to provide robust information and advice for health professionals, mothers and pregnant women.  Most of the 5 million babies born in Europe every year have been exposed to medications taken by their mothers during the pregnancy.iii  A publically-funded comprehensive European Pharmacovigilance system should be established to collect data, knowledge and close the information gap.

 8. Active and Healthy Ageing One of the biggest challenges facing European societies is maintaining health across the lifespan particularly in light of an increasingly ageing population.  Active and healthy ageing must be a priority on the health and social agenda of the EU and its Member States.  Europe has the highest proportion of older women in the world.  Women are on the forefront of ageing due to their greater longevity than men, their multiple carer and societal roles and their lower financial resources.  Despite women’s increased lifespan, their older years are disproportionately burdened by ill health.  Women outlive men by more than five years, but the difference in healthy life expectancy is less than nine months.iv   A comprehensive and supportive approach, including physical and mental health, must be taken to empower and support women to actively and healthily age in order to reduce inequities, isolation and poverty in old age.  Specific attention should be devoted to important issues that affect older people, particularly cancer and Alzheimer's disease.

9. Healthy Behaviour Promotion Chronic disease is responsible for large part of ill health, disability and mortality in the EU in both sexes, leading to increasingly costly health and long-term care if not treated and managed effectively, particularly diseases like cardiovascular disease, diabetes and cancer.  Efforts must be made to promote healthy behaviours, accounting for various factors including sex and gender.  For instance, the frequency and level of alcohol and tobacco consumption among women is on the rise in Europe, resulting in narrowing the gap in avoidable illness and death in women.  Beginning in the 1990s, young girls started out smoking young boys in Europe.  Women also have special nutritional needs that shift for each stage of a women’s life.   Differences between men and women exist with regard to exercise and rising obesity.  Men in the EU are 1.6 times more likely to be sufficiently physically active in a week compared to women.v Thus, explicit programming and policy should encourage women and their families to eat well, exercise and engage in healthy behaviours. 

https://eurohealth.ie/wp-content/uploads/2018/05/Action-Plan-Final.pdf

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