Changing risky behaviour key to tackling noncommunicable diseases

The policy action needed at national and cross-national level to address the epidemic of noncommunicable diseases was again on the agenda as experts met in Budapest, Hungary, on 30-31 May 2011 at the ‘Action for Prevention’ Conference of the Hungarian Presidency of the European Union. 

Zsuzsanna Jakab, WHO Regional Director for Europe presented evidence of health trends in Europe and emphasized that a strong European Health Policy - Health 2020, mandated by the Member States, can be a strong catalyst for success in the fight against the noncommunicable disease (NCD) epidemic. She emphasized the special focus needed to reduce underlying behaviour-based risk factors: tobacco use, alcohol consumption, physical inactivity and poor nutrition.

WHO/Europe is finalizing a European action plan for the prevention and control of NCDs, which Member States in the European Region will discuss at the sixty-first session of the WHO Regional Committee for Europe in September 2011.  

Conference objectives

The main objective of the Conference in Budapest was to address the serious challenge in Europe of the increasing prevalence of non-communicable diseases (NCDs) by raising awareness for the urgent need to act, and encourage and support Member States to implement their strategies at national, regional and local level. 

The expert consultation also aimed to facilitate the sharing of best practices and transfer of know-how on prevention, with a particular focus on Central and Eastern European (CEE) countries.

The Conference was opened by Miklos Szocska, State Minister for Health, Michael Hubel, Head of Unit for Health Determinants from Directorate General for Health and Consumers (DG SANCO) and Zsuzsanna Jakab, WHO Regional Director for Europe.