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Health

 

Public health

Joint action programme for public health and consumer protection:

Elaboration of a new strategy for health and consumer protection: “Healthier, safer and more confident citizens”.

Health determinants:

  • Type 2 diabetes

The rapid increase in new cases of diabetes, especially type 2 diabetes, has become one of the largest medical and health policy problems. Worldwide approximately 170 million people have diabetes, and this number is expected to double in the next 20 years.

To highlight the significance of diabetes mellitus at EU level, diabetes will be one of the major health themes the Austrian Presidency in 2006. At a diabetes conference in Vienna at which representatives from policy/administration, patient organisations, the medical profession and care professions will participate, it is primarily intended to provide suggestion for solutions in the following four areas and possible joint strategies:

  1. prevention of cardiovascular diseases in diabetes patients
  2. disease management – reducing diabetes-related complications
  3. primary prevention of type 2 diabetes
  4. social, societal and gender-specific aspects of type 2 diabetes
  • Women’s health

Only recently did one third of the members of the European Parliament sign a declaration regarding, among other things, the necessity of education on endometriosis and increased research on the development of this disease.

The European Parliament also only recently addressed the subject of osteoporosis in a workshop. These four diseases, together with cardiovascular diseases and smoking/lung cancer, will be the focus of the Austrian Presidency in the area of women’s health.

The objective is to motivate the European Commission to produce an up-to-date report on women's health that includes all 25 Member States, which the EP also only recently requested.

At national level, Austria is one of the first European countries to fulfil the recommendation of the World Health Organisation (WHO); in 1995 an Austrian report on women’s health was produced. The new report for 2005 outlines the changes in the past decade and future areas of negotiation, offers a current overview of all health data relevant to women, the framework conditions of healthcare specific to women and approaches for targeted promotion of health.

  • Elaboration of a comprehensive EU alcohol strategy

Building on the results of the Council on a Community strategy for reducing the damaging effects of alcohol.

  • WHO framework agreement on tobacco control

After completing negotiations on the WHO framework agreement on tobacco control, the 1st Conference of the Parties with work on protocols will begin.

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Medical devices/medicines

Medical devices and medicines play an important role in the area of health and social protection. They improve the level of health protection and the quality of life of citizens. The establishment of uniformly high criteria for quality and safety is not just a basis for public confidence in the health policies of the Member States and the Community, but is also the basis for the competitiveness of the European pharmaceuticals industry.

Medical devices

The proven EU legislation on medical devices, in place since 1993, will be adjusted to meet new challenges during a review, which will also include the necessary simplification and compilation of EU legislation.

Advanced therapies/tissue engineering

The increasing need for safe replacement tissue and organs has made necessary the development of new technologies, such as tissue engineering, which is the cultivation of living cells outside the body. If necessary, the regenerated tissue is combined with biological or synthetic components into so-called constructs, which are reimplanted in the body. The advantage of this technology is that the implants are extremely likely to be accepted by the immune system of the patients, without the risk of rejection.

During the work on the acceptance of directives on minimum standards in the area of blood/blood products and tissues and cells, it became apparent that tissue engineering, owing to the special nature of the subject, requires separate regulation. The progress in biotechnology in medical applications has resulted in both opportunities and risks for EU citizens. Community regulation should ensure a high level of health protection and a reasonable framework for further development of this sector.

Medicinal products for children

Most medicinal products on the market are not approved for use by children, which is why no dosages are indicated for them (there are no results for clinical trials with children). This frequently forces doctors to prescribe medicinal products for use by children for which there are no results available as regards the effectiveness and safety for the patients. The central point of the proposal currently being debated is that results of studies in accordance with a paediatric review plan must be presented and listed in the product information for all applications for approval for new, patented ingredients. The “Paediatric Committee” to be set up at the European Medicines Agency will also have a major role in that it will be responsible for reviewing and approving the paediatric review concepts presented, and must in each case review whether there is a therapeutic use.

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Date: 28.12.2005