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In February, a transformative initiative aimed at preventing non-communicable diseases (NCDs) took its first step as the Joint Action on cancer and other non-communicable disease prevention project (JA PreventNCD) was launched in an Oslo meeting. The project is co-funded by the European Union with a total budget of 95.5 million EUR, representing 20% of the EU's total health budget. This groundbreaking project brings together 25 nations in a collaborative effort to address the growing burden of NCDs across borders.

NCDs, including cancer, type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and respiratory diseases pose significant challenges to public health, with over 75% of individuals facing the risk of these diseases. The risk factors, such as unhealthy diet, smoking, alcohol consumption, and physical inactivity, are well-known, yet the societal and economic costs continue to escalate. In the EU alone, NCDs account for a staggering 115 billion EUR annually in healthcare expenditures. This, along with all the human suffering experienced by those affected, underscores the urgent need for coordinated action.

A strong symbol of change

Led by Norway and supported by more than 100 partners, the Joint Action Prevent NCD project aims to tackle NCDs and their risk factors at both the individual and societal levels. Linda Granlund, head of coordination, and division director at the Norwegian Directorate of Health emphasizes the significance of this endeavour: "Cancer and other NCDs constitute a large proportion of the total burden of disease in Europe. NCDs can be prevented, and sadly we have not managed to tackle the challenges in an effective and coordinated way up until now. This project represents a paradigm shift, with 20% of health budgets dedicated to prevention—a symbol of Europe's evolving approach to health."

Addressing the social gradient in NCD risk and exposure, Professor Knut-Inge Klepp, Scientific coordinator of the project at the Norwegian Institute of Public Health, stresses the importance of equitable policies: "We should not tolerate certain groups facing more illness and early death than other. Policies addressing health determinants such as education and socioeconomic status are essential for creating equal opportunities for good health."

Even with Europe's diversity, we´re all dealing with similar challenges, especially with changes in our population and big events like the COVID-19 pandemic. Knut-Inge Klepp highlights the need for a unified approach: "The pandemic has underscored the importance of cross-border cooperation in addressing health crises. NCDs, while slower in their progression, represent a significant health crisis that requires coordinated action."

In Hungary, the NCPHP participates in the project as a competent authority. The institute is particularly involved in the nutrition and health promotion related project areas. It also plays an active role in the work package aiming at reducing health inequalities, co-leading the implementation of the activities identified in the work package.

Facts and Figures on Joint Action Prevent NCD:

  • 25 European countries participating
  • 99 partners + more than 10 associated partners
  • Four-year period
  • Budget of 95,5 MN EUR with an EU contribution of 76,5 MNEUR
  • Aim to reduce the burden of cancer and other NCDs by addressing common risk factors
  • Holistic approach to prevention, promoting coordinated action and increased impact across European settings

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