This action aims to communicate the potential of health promotion and disease prevention and health determinants in the Member States and to increase the commitment of public authorities to this topic. A workshop (and a conference) to update knowledge and good practice will be organised, with the participation of the main medical faculties and the Chief Medical Officers of all Member States. The workshop will be preceded by the preparation of a report providing an overview of the current situation in the EU (this document will be updated after the workshop) and it will be followed by a conference.
Lifestyle determinants are behind most chronic diseases. They have a major impact on the health of European citizens – from before birth to old age –, on the burden on health systems, and on the productivity of our societies.
For most people, reliable information about their health will be provided on a regular basis by health professionals. Ensuring that health professionals, especially General Practitioners, have the adequate knowledge on healthy lifestyles, and the skills and experience to promote them, is thus essential to support citizens when taking decisions and making adjustments in their daily life.
Such changes can have major positive effects on health over the entire span of the life of each person. They can avoid that healthy citizens become (chronic) patients. Health professionals should have access to the best evidence base and to the training opportunities necessary to support the prevention and treatment of lifestyle-related chronic diseases.
This is made more relevant by the fact that health professionals generally have very limited time with their patients, and the patients are usually and naturally most interested in a pressing health problem. This creates a constant pressure to focus the contact or consultation on symptoms and treatment. In parallel, proposing lifestyle changes is in many cases not fully accepted by patient and doctor alike as a complete treatment option.
By encouraging universities, education regulators and professional associations to include the knowledge about (promotion of) healthy lifestyles throughout the lifespan as part of the curriculum, these subjects can be better mainstreamed in basic medical training, reaching all health professionals and becoming (more) practiced and accepted. This can be achieved during the studies to obtain a medical diploma or through courses, workshops or additional training after graduation.
To address these questions, it will be important to map how EU health professionals are being trained in health promotion and to create a EU network of medical faculties, education regulators and professional associations to promote interest, capacity building and engagement in this area; to organize a workshop to develop concrete action; and to further promote the topic and publicize the developed initiatives in an international conference.