JULY  2017

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leaders and spark change for health


Enabling change for health: Breaking down barriers to action against chronic diseases.

Despite the existence of a strong evidence base for effective policy action on health promotion and disease prevention, too little has been achieved. Policy-makers already know what needs to be done to overcome barriers to good health, so the focus of the EPHA 2017 Annual Conference will be to explore how new levers and different levels of power can break through to real action on chronic diseases – by making health everyone’s business.

In this issue

EPHA updates
Members updates and featured events



Will the legacy of today’s politicians be shorter, sicker lives?

Sir Michael Marmot, a former UK government adviser, has made headlines again by pointing out that UK life expectancy rises have stalled since 2010.  He points the finger squarely at austerity measures and ‘miserly’ levels of health and social care spending, increasing what he termed the “health gap”.

The widening chasm between haves and have-notes since the financial crisis was already the theme of the OECD Forum last year. OECD Secretary-General Angel Gurria told Ministers, “We have reached a tipping point. Inequality can no longer be treated as an afterthought.”

No doubt he had in mind the work of the 2015 Nobel Prize winner in economics Sir Angus Deaton and Prof Anne Case who showed in an analysis of health and mortality data for the US CDC that death rates for middle-aged white Americans are rising, not falling.  As they put it, this “quiet epidemic has killed half a million middle-aged white Americans”. They found all-cause mortality to be rising in this group and in particular that alcohol (chronic liver disease, cirrhosis and poisonings) and prescription drugs, as well as self-harm and suicide were driving the trend. This particularly affected people with only high school education. People with least education reported most pain and worst general health, as well as most financial distress. Health outcomes, and deaths, are mirroring education and income inequality.

Is Europe following suit in mortality and morbidity? As EPHA discusses the need for action to tackle the growing NCD crisis at its forthcoming conference, a comprehensive analysis still needs to be done, but in some countries (Germany, Netherlands, Poland) and for some population groups there is evidence that life expectancies are falling.  Public health’s leading thinkers, including Prof Martin McKee, have been sounding the alarm for several years that austerity is literally a killer. The time lag in population wide health statistics means we are only now beginning to understand the full extent of the damage.

The connection with today’s politics is clear: Many US commentators and pollsters are pointing out that the most at-risk demographic, middle-aged blue-collar white men, fearful for their family’s future having lost the job security of previous decades as trade unions and employee rights were undermined were the core vote for Trump. Those at the poor end of the health gap might well also have swung the polls for Brexit, for Law & Justice in Poland, carried Marine Le Pen to the Presidential run-off in France and swept brand new and unpredictable parties closer to power in Greece, Spain and Italy.

Today’s mainstream politicians must understand this for their own political survival – pleading ignorance of the health gap is no longer an option.  Failure to act will define their legacies.

Nina Renshaw
Secretary General

EPHA updates

EPHA together with a number of other organisations have written to President Juncker calling for continued EU action on health supported by a robust EU Health Programme and the leadership of a dedicated Directorate in the European Commission. 

100 organisations now support our joint 'EU: do more for Health!' campaign - how can you get involved?
  • Sign our petition on behalf of your organisation. Your organisation's name will be added to the list of 'Who is on board?' in alphabetical order with a link to your organisation's website 
  • Encourage your member organisations to sign, and non-health organisations in your network
  • Share the petition on social media using #EU4Health!  

Other EPHA News

CHRONIC DISEASES: From the Frontline | Report

Ahead of EPHA's 2017 Annual Conference, the membership of EPHA has brought together frontline experiences of experts, patients and practitioners across different diseases, specialisations and campaigns trying to reduce the impact of chronic diseases on our health and economies.      >>Read More

Members updates and featured events

European CanCer Organisation | Position Statement | Integrated Cancer Care: Bringing Primary Care and Secondary Care Together >>Read More

European Academy of Paediatrics | Report | Early Hearing Detection and Vocabulary of Children With Hearing Loss >>Read more

Health Action International | Report | Pharmaceutical Promotion in Medical and Pharmacy Education in The Netherlands: Readiness for Curriculum Change >>Read more

European Heart Network | Position Paper | Air pollution and Cardiovascular Diseases: EHN Position Paper >>Read More

European Respiratory Society | Annual Presidential Summit Resources >>Read More

WEMOS | Report | Unethical Clinical Trials in Africa >>Read More

Royal College of Physicians | Report | Research for all: Sharing good practice in research management  >>Read More
Copyright © EPHA, 2017. 

EPHA is the European Platform bringing together public health organisations representing health professionals, patients groups, health promotion and disease specific NGOs, academic groupings and other health associations.

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