In the changing global socio-economic landscape, Europe is facing a major challenge in maintaining a high level of public health protection, especially for an ageing population.
Effective public health policies need to address a wide variety of complex issues, ranging from individual lifestyle choices to environmental exposure factors, as well as the affordability of medical and health-care facilities. There is a need for more coordinated efforts in the EU, both in the drive towards prevention of illnesses as well as in the harmonisation of procedures and promotion of best practices in diagnosis and treatment of illnesses.
The rise in obesity, type II diabetes, cancer, and cardiovascular diseases presents particular challenges and would benefit from more such coordinated approaches both in tackling the underlying causes and in finding the most effective treatments.
The JRC Institute for Health and Consumer Protection (IHCP) is starting to address some of these challenges. Major new activities focus on EU harmonisation of screening, diagnosis, and treatment of breast cancer as well as provision of harmonised cancer data. IHCP is also developing competences in behavioural science to find more effective solutions to tackling the health burden imposed by individual choice of diet and lifestyle.
In addition, IHCP continues to consolidate its long-standing experience in investigating daily environmental factors impacting on health, particularly of young people and the elderly. Here, key areas of concern relate to indoor air quality, chemicals (including pesticides and biocides) and environmental noise, for which the Institute is closely involved in the development of risk assessment methodologies and tools.
IHCP works closely with other European Commission services, relevant national organisations, the World Health Organisation (WHO) and other stakeholders. Its work also involves coordinating related work undertaken in national and international programmes.
Photo: Cell culturing laboratory operator. Copyright EU 2010.