The European Commission has launched in December 2021 the Healthier together – EU non-communicable diseases (NCD) initiative to support EU countries in identifying and implementing effective policies and actions to reduce the burden of major NCDs and improve citizens’ health and well-being. The initiative covers the 2022-2027 period and includes 5 strands:
- health determinants
- cardiovascular diseases
- chronic respiratory diseases
- mental health and neurological disorders
All strands include a health equity dimension, thus supporting the reduction of health inequalities.
Actions on cancer, which is also a major NCD, are covered in Europe’s Beating Cancer Plan.
While the strands enable addressing particular challenges of each disease group, the initiative as such promotes a holistic and coordinated approach to prevention and care. It also supports better knowledge and data, screening and early detection, diagnosis and treatment management, and the improvement of quality of life for patients.
The first step of this Initiative has been the co-creation of the guidance document together with EU countries’ competent authorities, with input from health stakeholders, international organisations and many Commission departments, from January to May 2022.
This document helps to guide policies and sets up a basis for implementation of actions over the next years. The document is therefore a toolkit to coordinate action on NCDs, and to identify and create the windows of opportunity for high-impact actions to be implemented across countries. Such actions may include the uptake of nationwide or EU-level policies and transfer of good practices, the development and implementation of guidelines and recommendations, the piloting and rolling out of innovative approaches or the launch of projects expected to have a significant impact.
This is an ‘open document’, as the European Commission intends to update and complement it regularly with additional references, including, where available, on effectiveness, cost- effective and successful national experiences. Additional meetings of expert groups may be organised to further support this process, i.e., fine tuning the priorities and actions and keep track of the progress of the Initiative, including measuring its impact.
The EU4Health Programme and other EU programmes will support the implementation of the initiative in the EU countries.