New issue of Panorama: reducing the burden of NCDs in Europe

WHO

The new issue of Public Health Panorama is dedicated to the highly topical issue of noncommunicable diseases (NCDs) and the progress the WHO European Region has made in combatting them.

The articles cover geographically and thematically diverse topics, from an analysis of tobacco consumption in the Russian Federation and tackling the rising tide of NCDs in Germany to prevention of musculoskeletal conditions in England and improving monitoring of implementation of alcohol policy in Estonia.

Other stories include the successes of tobacco control policies in the European Region inspired by the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (WHO FCTC); Portugal’s progress towards the NCD-related target of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs); alcohol industry actions to reduce harmful drinking in the Region; barriers and capacities for childhood obesity prevention in 12 European Union Member States; and a progress report on work towards the achievement of the first United Nations time-bound commitment on NCD surveillance in the Region.

As well as articles and reports, this issue also features a comprehensive interview with Dr Veronika Skvortsova, the Minister of Health of the Russian Federation. Dr Skvortsova not only provides important insights into the current situation with NCDs in the Russia Federation, but also describes the role the country currently plays in implementing the global NCDs agenda as a major stakeholder and donor. “NCDs are the leading cause of death in the Russian Federation and around the world. This is why it is no coincidence that combatting NCDs is one of the top priorities for the government in both its foreign and domestic policies,” emphasized Dr Skvortsova.

NCDs are currently responsible for the vast majority of deaths and disabilities in the European Region. The Region has long been leading the fight against NCDs – and it is currently the only region that is on track to achieve SDG target 3.4: “By 2030, reduce by one third premature mortality from non-communicable diseases through prevention and treatment and promote mental health and well-being”. However, although success rates in reducing the burden of NCDs in the Region have given rise to cautious optimism, progress is uneven both among and within countries themselves and across risk groups.

Reducing the burden of NCDs is one of the main priorities for the Region, which has been reflected in the agenda of Health 2020, the health-related SDGs and WHO’s Thirteenth General Programme of Work 2019–2023 – with its ambitious “triple billion” goal (1 billion more people benefiting from universal health coverage, 1 billion more people better protected from health emergencies and 1 billion more people enjoying better health and well-being). Recently, a generous voluntary contribution from the Russian Federation made it possible to establish the WHO European Office for the Prevention and Control of NCDs in Moscow as a powerhouse of innovation in the fight against NCDs.

NCDs high on the global agenda

NCDs are high on the global agenda for policy-makers – 2 key governance meetings addressing NCDs will be held in September 2018. The 68th session of the WHO Regional Committee for Europe held in Rome, Italy will address the issues of health and well-being of men in the Region, prevention and control of NCDs, physical activity, and the strengthening the implementation of the WHO FCTC. The other important assembly is the third United Nations High-level Meeting on noncommunicable diseases that will take place in New York on 27 September. Here high-ranking national and international officials will come together to undertake a comprehensive review of the global and national progress made in putting measures in place to prevent people from dying prematurely from NCDs.