Improved health promotion and disease prevention called for.

CC – 09/2023

Non-communicable diseases are diseases that are not transmitted from person to person. These include cardiovascular diseases, cancer, diabetes and chronic respiratory diseases. They are responsible for 90 per cent of all deaths in the European Union (EU). Around 68 per cent of all premature deaths in Europe can be attributed to these diseases.


In view of these figures, the European Parliament wants to act. Erik Poulsen MEP (Renew, DK), as rapporteur in the Subcommittee on Public Health (SANT), presented his draft report on non-communicable diseases on 30 August. In it, he calls for improved health promotion and disease prevention. These can reduce the prevalence of non-communicable diseases by 70 per cent.


The eleven-page draft report for a resolution of the European Parliament includes demands in the areas of prevention, early detection and care, promotion of innovation and research.

Tobacco, alcohol, healthy eating and exercise

The report focuses on prevention. Tobacco and alcohol consumption, physical inactivity, unhealthy diet but also environmental factors such as air, food, water and soil pollution as well as chemical exposures are taken into account. There would be a lot of room for manoeuvre in these areas. With regard to reducing tobacco use, for example, the Commission is called upon to fully implement the World Health Organisation (WHO) Framework Convention on Tobacco Control. Among them, the health risks of e-cigarettes and novel tobacco products will be scientifically assessed.

Early detection and knowledge exchange

In addition, the Member States are called upon to improve the early detection of non-communicable diseases. In addition to awareness campaigns and strengthening the health literacy of patients, high-risk population groups are to benefit from targeted health check-ups. Improved data, research and knowledge sharing are also essential for better prevention, diagnosis and treatment of non-communicable diseases.


As with the European Cancer Plan, it can be seen in the debate on the report that there is a particular struggle over wording on tobacco and alcohol consumption. For example, the report talks about "harmful alcohol consumption". This was criticised in the debate, alcohol consumption was "always harmful". This is a repetition of a discussion that was last held in connection with the report of the Special Committee on Cancer Control in December 2021 (on this see DSV News 12/2021 and DSV-News 2/2022). Amendments can be submitted by parliamentarians until the end of September.

Background: The Healthier Together Initiative

The European Commission launched the Healthier together - EU Non Communicable Diseases Initiative (EU NCD Initiative) in 2021 to help EU countries identify and implement effective policies and actions to reduce the burden of NCDs and improve the health of citizens. An accompanying guideline provides ambitious priorities and examples of inspiring practices, as well as an overview of the financial instruments available to translate them into concrete action.