Old person hospital admissionThe European Society of Cardiology (ESC) has welcomed and endorsed the new Action Plan for the prevention and control of noncommunicable diseases (NCDs) in the World Health Organization (WHO) European Region adopted by WHO’s Regional Committee for Europe.

The Action Plan updates priority actions and interventions to reduce premature mortality, reduce disease burden, improve quality of life and make healthy life expectancy more equitable.

“The action plan is a key milestone for the promotion and maintenance of NCDs as a priority on the European policy agenda,” said Prof Ian Graham, WHO liaison and Secretary Treasurer of the ESC. “It clearly identifies cardiovascular disease (CVD) as the leading cause of death in Europe and outlines specific recommendations consistent with ESC's mission to reduce the burden of CVD. The ESC supports WHO’s ongoing efforts to promote better healthcare within the European area and will continue to drive change in line with its recommendations. We also propose stronger actions in some areas which have a direct impact on the incidence and prevalence of CVD and patient outcomes.”

The ESC believes that greater emphasis should be placed on quality assurance to achieve sustainable, high-quality and cost-effective healthcare It also endorses strengthening the capacity of primary healthcare to prevent, assess and manage cardio-metabolic risk, including clinical guidelines, capacity building, monitoring and evaluation. Cardiometabolic risk assessment and management are areas in which the ESC has special competence and would welcome the opportunity to share this with WHO. 

In addition, adoption of the “chain of survival” is variable throughout European member states and the ESC is eager to work with WHO in developing this area, both at the clinical level and through its increasing interest in patient engagement.

The WHO European Region has made progress in key areas of noncommunicable disease (NCD) control: death rates from cardiovascular disease (CVD) continue to decline, the clear downward trend in smoking continues, and alcohol intake is steadily decreasing. However, this overall European picture masks significant differences within and between countries and population groups; WHO/Europe estimates that the Region will fall short of the global goals of reducing tobacco use and physical inactivity and simply fail to halt the rise in obesity unless action is accelerated.