WHO to map vitamin-D deficiency in Europe

WHO

Meeting participants from left: Dr Joao Breda, WHO/Europe; Professor Jose Martin-Moreno, WHO/Europe; Dr Werner Christie, Member of the Board and Former Ministry of Health of Norway; and David Webber, Director of Studies, Public Advice (PA) International Foundation

On 1 October 2010, WHO experts and representatives of the Public Advice International Foundation (PA International) met to discuss vitamin-D deficiency in the WHO European Region.

Discussions covered the mission and strategy of PA International and WHO/Europe’s work on nutrition, physical activity and obesity, including policy tools such as the European Charter on Counteracting Obesity and the WHO European Action Plan for Food and Nutrition Policy 2007–2012.

At the meeting, the partners agreed on future activities. WHO/Europe will:

  • comprehensively review the literature on vitamin-D deficiency and its determinants;
  • map vitamin-D deficiency in the Region as extensively as possible;
  • develop an integrated plan to tackle it within the framework of a strategy on micronutrient deficiencies outlined in the Action Plan for Food and Nutrition Policy;
  • coordinate with WHO headquarters on the continuing development of micronutrient guidelines.

PA International will outline a fundraising initiative to support these activities, in coordination with WHO/Europe and with the participation of stakeholders.

The meeting followed a recent workshop, organized by the Standing Committee of European Doctors (CPME) and Public Advice International, on the widespread vitamin-D deficiency in Europe. 

People need vitamin D to maintain normal blood levels of calcium and phosphate, which are in turn needed for the normal mineralization of bone, muscle contraction, nerve conduction and general functioning in all cells of the body. Those at risk of vitamin-D deficiency include infants, adolescents and elderly people.