EUGLOREH project
THE STATUS OF HEALTH IN THE EUROPEAN UNION:
TOWARDS A HEALTHIER EUROPE

FULL REPORT

PART II - HEALTH CONDITIONS

5. HEALTH IMPACTS OF NON COMMUNICABLE DISEASES AND RELATED TIME-TRENDS

5.11. Dermatological diseases

5.11.5. Control tools and policies

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5.11.5. Control tools and policies

 

Prevention of skin disease is still at an early stage, even though the knowledge to develop some more effective preventative strategies is already available. Thus, measures aiming at changing the public’s behaviour to avoid excessive sun exposure, to recognise the visible signs of melanoma and to seek advice at an early stage could already have a more substantial impact on this devastating disease. Other studies in Europe suggested that at least one third of children born from parents with an allergic disease can be prevented from developing atopic eczema through a range of measures intended at reducing allergic factors before or around birth (Mar and Marks, 2000).

Between the Third Ministerial Conference on Environment and Health in London 1999 and the Fourth Conference, held in Budapest in 2004, the WHO Regional Office for Europe traced the path for a public health policy response to reduce the burden of environment-related disease on children. The children’s environment and health action plan for Europe (CEHAPE) has set out measures aimed at various sectors to decrease environmental exposures and give priority to preventing atopic dermatitis and many other diseases such as asthma, neurodevelopmental disorders and birth defects, water- and food-related diseases, and injuries. Based on evidence on the whole WHO European Region, CEHAPE provides a framework in which Member States can develop national plans and policies adapted to their needs. This will contain tools for monitoring and implementation, core and extended sets of indicators and case studies, including examples of good practice and ways to increase access to environmental health information and education.

Also relevant in this context is the Environmental and Health Plan of the European Commission that puts a lot of emphasis on children.

 

Better labeling of cosmetic ingredients along with legislation to reduce harmful exposures, may play an important part in reducing contact dermatitis. In Denmark for instance, a legislation has been adopted to reduce nickel contact with the skin to reduce nickel dermatitis, which can affect up to 20% of young women. Infectious skin diseases, such as outbreaks of fungal infections of the scalp or head lice, are all preventable to some degree.

 

European countries have for years now been actively included in the European Academy of Dermatology and Venereology prevention campaign against melanoma entitled Euromelanoma Day. Several countries in Europe have agreed to participate by holding a screening day.

All of the participating centres in Europe will use the same questionnaires; all results will be collated and analyzed. The outcome of this initiative will be very interesting and even if only a small number of melanomas are picked up, the event should help us to further promote the general message of skin cancer prevention.

Moreover, the European Commission has launched an information initiative to alert consumers to a new sunscreen labelling regime. Sunscreen products protect from UV radiation and can be effective in preventing sun-burn and skin cancer. Consumers should, therefore, use sunscreens and clearer labelling should help consumers to make informed choices. Through this information campaign, the Commission is also seeking to remind consumers that there are several reasons why sunscreen products should be only one out of a number of measures to protect from sunray UV radiation.