Statement by the European Heart Network made at the 66th session of the WHO Regional Committee for Europe, Copenhagen, 12-15 September 2016, on the NCD action plan (2016-2025).
EHN welcomes the WHO Regional Office for Europe’s proposed Action plan for the prevention and control of noncommunicable diseases (2016-2025).
In particular, EHN welcomes that the Plan:
– highlights that cardiovascular disease (CVD) remains the leading cause of premature mortality in the European Region– requires a focus on population-based interventions notably on tobacco control; reduction of consumption of salt, saturated fat and trans fatty acids; hypertension control; as well as, in particular in Eastern European countries, alcohol control; as well as early detection and management of disease– promotes a focus on a broader set of risk factors and determinants, including air pollution
and calls specifically for action to:
– adopt strong measures that reduce the overall impact on children and adults of all forms of marketing (including online) of foods high in energy, saturated fats, trans fats, free sugars and/or salt, and consider and implement a range of economic tools that could discourage the consumption of such foods and improve the affordability and availability of a healthy diet, including, where appropriate taxes on sugar-sweetened beverages
– mainstream product improvement and reformulation supported by improvement in interpretative front-of-pack labelling
– develop, extend and evaluate salt reduction strategies to continue progress across food product categories and market segments
– ensure that physical activity interventions take into consideration the specific needs and opportunities of different groups across their lives
– support the regional implementation of World Health Assembly resolution WHA68.8 on health and the environment, addressing the health impact of air pollution
– strengthen the capacity of primary health care to prevent, assess and manage cardio-metabolic risk, including clinical guidelines, capacity-building, monitoring and evaluation, and patient-centred approaches
– increase coverage and quality of cardio-metabolic management following assessment so that those found to have a total CVD risk above threshold receive drug therapy and counselling (including glycaemic control) to prevent heart attacks and strokes
– improve the quality and coverage of secondary prevention and rehabilitation following heart attacks and strokes
– promote early recognition of the symptoms and signs of a heart attack or stroke in men and women and timely delivery of care along a critical pathway (the “chain of survival” or “chain of recovery”)
EHN notes that the Plan reports that trade agreements, which have been drawn up without adequate consideration of their health impact, risk unravelling hard-won gains. In order to balance trade/economic policy and nutrition/health policy, EHN suggests that, to safe-guard governments’ policy space to protect their citizens effectively not only from tobacco products but also from the harm caused by other products, global instruments, like the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, for food and alcohol should be explored.