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Health and Well-Being

What is the EU's role?

The EU Youth Strategy aims to support the health and well-being of young people with a focus on:

  • Promoting mental and sexual health, sport, physical activity and healthy lifestyles;
  • Preventing and treating injury, eating disorders, addictions and substance abuse;
  • Education on nutrition;
  • Promoting cooperation between schools, youth workers, health professionals and sport organisations;
  • Making health facilities more accessible and attractive for young people;
  • Raising awareness of how sport can promote teamwork, intercultural learning and responsibility.
Nutrition and physical activity:

In Europe today, 6 of the 7 biggest risk factors for premature death – blood pressure, cholesterol, body mass index, inadequate intake of fruit, obesity and being overweight - are rising across Europe. The European Commission advocates an integrated approach to address these problems, involving stakeholders at local, regional, national and European levels.

The Commission's strategy on nutrition, overweight and obesity-related health issues aims to help reduce the risks associated with poor nutrition and limited physical activity.

This strategy is coordinated by a High Level Group – with representatives from all Member States' governments – which shares knowledge and good practices regarding national initiatives. An EU platform for action on diet, physical activity and health provides a forum aimed at tackling overweight and obesity trends.

The Commission funds initiatives promoting nutrition and physical activity through its Public Health Programme. It also receives funding from the European Parliament for projects to improve action in these areas and to identify good practices that can be used in other European cities or regions.

From this work, an EU Action Plan on Childhood Obesitypdf Choose translations of the previous link  has been agreed to:

  • Demonstrate the shared commitment of Member States to addressing childhood obesity;
  • Set out priority areas for action and a possible toolbox of measures;
  • Propose ways of collectively keeping track of progress.
Alcohol

Alcohol-related harm is a major health concern, accounting for for over 7% of all ill-health and early deaths in the EU.

Even moderate alcohol consumption increases the long-term risk of heart conditions, liver diseases and cancers. Young people are particularly at risk of the effects of drunkenness, including accidents and violence; alcohol-related deaths account for around 25% of all fatalities in young men aged 15-29.

The EU alcohol strategy is designed to help national governments and other stakeholders coordinate action to reduce alcohol related harm. The Action Plan on Youth Drinking and on Heavy Episodic Drinkingpdf Choose translations of the previous link  (Binge Drinking) (2014-2016) is part of the strategy.

The Commission's Public Health Programme funds projects and other initiatives addressing alcohol-related harm, including the Joint Action on Reducing Alcohol-Related Harm (2014-2016).

Sexual Health

Sexual health is defined as a state of physical, emotional, mental and social well-being related to sexuality; it is not merely the absence of disease, dysfunction or infirmity.

It is a sensitive area, covering multiple levels of educational, ethical, medical, social and cultural customs, which vary considerably across Europe.

The Commission's policy aims to enhance the comparability of data, raising awareness about the risks of sexually transmitted infections (STIs), supporting the prevention of STIsand providing guidance. It focuses in particular on the most widespread STI - chlamydia.

HIV/AIDS

In 2012, more than 130,000 new human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infections were reported in Europe and Central Asia, with 29,000 new cases in the European Union and European Economic Area. Effective treatment of HIV infections exists but there is still no cure, nor a preventive vaccine. That is why EU policy focuses on prevention and support for people living with HIV/AIDS.

The EU helps by strengthening cooperation between national authorities, civil society and stakeholders across Europe.

The 2009 Commission communication on combating HIV/AIDS in the EU and neighbouring countriespdf Choose translations of the previous link  identifies policies to help reduce the number of new infections and improve quality of life for people with HIV/AIDS.

The EU aims to help authorities and stakeholders in the EU and neighbouring countries to:

  • Improve access to prevention, treatment, care and support;
  • Reach migrants from countries with a high level of HIV;
  • Improve policies targeting the populations most at risk.

An Action Plan for 2014-2016pdf Choose translations of the previous link  , extending a similar plan in 2009-2013pdf Choose translations of the previous link  , explains how the EU, civil society, international organisations and stakeholders will achieve this.

The Commission has set up two bodies to help with policy implementation and strengthen cooperation among countries, civil society and international organisations:

  • HIV/AIDS Think Tank is a forum for representatives of EU Member States and neighbouring countries to exchange information and strengthen cooperation.
  • HIV/AIDS Civil Society Forum is a group of major European networks and NGOs, advising the Think Tank on policy formulation and implementation.
Mental Health

Apart from the benefits for individuals, good mental health is increasingly important for economic growth and social development in Europe. All of these are key EU policy goals.

In 2005, the Commission published a Green Paper – Promoting the Mental Health of the Population pdf Choose translations of the previous link  as a first response to the World Health Organization's Mental Health Declaration for Europe.

In 2013, a Joint Action Mental Health and Well-being was launched with financial support from the EU Health Programme. It is a three-year initiative that aims to create a framework for action at European level and builds on the European Pact for Mental Health and Well-beingpdf Choose translations of the previous link  . The Joint Action focuses on:

  • promoting of mental health in workplaces and schools;
  • developing of actions against depression and suicide;
  • implementing of e-health approaches;
  • developing of community-based and socially inclusive mental healthcare for people with severe mental disorders;
  • promoting the integration of mental health in all policies.
 

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