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
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.