Non-communicable diseases

Overview

Non-communicable diseases (NCDs) such as cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, chronic respiratory diseases, mental disorders, neurological disorders, or cancer are responsible for 80% of the disease burden in the EU countries and the leading causes of avoidable premature deaths.

The human and financial costs of NCDs are high and expected to grow, also considering the EU’s ageing population. Moreover, people suffering from NCDs can be more affected by other diseases, as COVID-19 has shown.

Reducing the burden of NCDs requires a holistic approach and tackling health inequalities across the board. Most importantly, health promotion and disease prevention can reduce it as much as by 70%.

EU approach

The EU approach to the challenge of NCDs involves an integrated response focusing on prevention across sectors and policy fields, combined with efforts to strengthen health systems.

In addition to Europe’s Beating Cancer Plan, the European Commission is working on a new initiative to support EU countries in reducing the burden of NCDs, focusing on 5 key areas:

  • cardiovascular diseases
  • diabetes
  • chronic respiratory diseases
  • mental health and neurological disorders
  • health determinants

All strands will include a health equity dimension, thus supporting the reduction of health inequalities.

While focusing on promotion and prevention, this initiative may also support better knowledge and data, screening and early detection, diagnosis and treatment management, and quality of life of patients.

Support will in all cases focus on implementation, helping EU countries to transfer best practices, develop guidelines, roll out innovative approaches, etc. Stakeholders will be supported in actions that can contribute to the same objectives.

It will be a major opportunity to generate more impact in fighting NCDs and specific objectives and actions will be developed collaboratively until mid-2022.

In the coming months, priorities, actions and synergies with policy areas relevant to the reduction of NCDs burden will be discussed with EU countries in the Steering Group on Health Promotion, Disease Prevention and Management of Non-Communicable Diseases.

Discussion with stakeholders will take place via the Health Policy Platform, where it will be possible to join the Non-Communicable Diseases thematic network.

Specific webinars will be scheduled between January and June to develop this initiative. Check the ‘Latest updates’ feed regularly for details on how to join the webinars.

Objectives

The European Commission is committed to supporting EU countries in their efforts to reach the nine voluntary targets of the United Nations and the World Health Organization by 2025, as well as the Sustainable Development Goal 3.4, which aims to reduce premature mortality from NCDs by one third, and promote mental health and well-being by 2030.

Steering Group on Promotion and Prevention

The Steering Group on Health Promotion, Disease Prevention and Management of Non-Communicable Diseases advises the Commission, promoting coordination to address public health, prevention and NCDs challenges. It helps Member States to implement validated best practices and promising approaches at wider scale.

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