Ennaltaehkäisy ja terveyden edistäminen
Citizens of the EU have never lived so long, and life expectancy is still increasing. However, the health of the EU population is far from being as good as it could be and there remains a significant level of preventable morbidity and early mortality. The most important determinants of health are the underlying social and economic conditions and associated living and working conditions. These are being addressed through the EU's economic and social policies. Smoking, nutrition, physical activity, diet, alcohol as well as the ways in which people behave towards themselves and towards others are also key determinants of health. The main causes of premature death and disability are accidents and injuries, mental disorders, cancers, circulatory diseases, and respiratory illnesses.
All of these conditions are amenable to effective prevention and promotion. Legislation and regulation – such as laws on seatbelts, road safety and restrictions on the content, marketing and use of tobacco products provide an essential underpinning to prevention efforts. Public information is important but is rarely sufficient by itself to enable people to actually adopt healthier behaviours. Health promotion efforts are often most successful when they employ a range of methods which support people to make healthy choices in the context of their everyday lives. Workplaces and schools as well as other places where people can spend large parts of their time (such as prisons) can be particularly important partners in this respect.
The EU Health Programme (2008-2013) includes actions to promote good health by addressing the major determinants of ill health associated with morbidity and early mortality. To this end, specific projects and initiatives are aimed at increasing awareness, disseminating information and sharing best practices. The EU has launched information campaigns and initiatives to increase awareness, for example, of the harmful effects of smoking and alcohol consumption, to promote sexual health and HIV/AIDS prevention, and to reduce injuries and accidents. It also promotes the implementation of screening programmes for cancer prevention.
Cooperation and coordination among European countries and international organisations enhances the effectiveness of prevention policies. The EU supports the exchange of information and best practice guidelines, which allow the level of health protection to rise across the Community.