International Day of Families

Today is Family Day, all over the world workshops, seminars, policy meetings, exhibitions and events to raise awareness of the importance of families are being organized. This year’s theme is: “Ensuring work family balance.”

This year’s International Day of Families highlights the need for work-family balance. The aim is to help workers everywhere provide for their families financially and emotionally, while also contributing to the socio-economic development of their societies.” United Nations (UN), Secretary General Ban Ki-moon.

In 1993 a UN resolution was adopted to reflect the importance of families and securing their status within the international community. 1994 the United Nations declared the International Year of Families, due to the changing social and economical structures having an impact on family structures and units, leading to the increasing need of raising awareness of family related issues. Since 1995, 15th of May is marked as Family Day.

This year’s theme addresses the social and economical structural changes, impacting families. Worldwide, the demographic transition is leading to smaller families, lower birth rates and an ageing population. More women are participating in the labour market, urbanization is growing and people tend to move from their homes due to labour, thus impacting family structures and splitting them up. Children are often left behind in the care of their grandparents, however with increasing age they often required care themselves, putting a double burden on parents having to take care of their children and parents and the same time.

Within Europe, we are fortunate to have access to childcare in form of day-care or kindergartens and older people requiring intensive care can move into retirement or nursing homes. However, in developing countries affordable quality child or elderly care is often not available. Forcing children to leave school and having to take care of their young siblings and grandparents.

Maternity leaves, home office or flexible working schedules can have a positive effect on work – family balance but still needs to increase on a global level.

Ban Ki- moon states in his message that: policies and programs are critical to enhancing the work-family balance.  These actions can also lead to better working conditions, greater employee health and productivity, and a more concerted focus on gender equality.

Let us bring families in to the spotlights and raise awareness for work-family balance, benefiting each global citizen and societies at large.

European Patient’s Rights Day

Today marks the 6th European Patients’ Rights Day and this years theme is: “Active Ageing citizens at the center of EU health policy”. Active Citizens Network  is organizing events on 15th and 16th of May in Brussels to bring attention to active ageing of European citizens.

Due to demographic transition the number of citizens above 65 is rapidly increasing. According to WHO Europe, median age of Europeans is already the highest in the world, and the proportion of people aged 65 and older is forecast to increase from 14% in 2010 to 25% in 2050. If you want to find out how the demographic transition developed during the last 50 years, watch this video.

With increasing age, people are at high risk of chronic diseases, mental illness and require more health care. However, they should not be seen as burden to the health care system and society due to their increasing needs and care. Empowering ageing citizens, ensuring access to health related information, implementing their rights and encouraging a healthy lifestyle has a vice versa effect for the whole population.

European institutions, patient organizations, healthcare representatives and national and/or regional health care departments should come together and discuss: How ageing patients can actively be involved, exchange of knowledge and best practices and how rights of ageing people can be secured.

Having access to health information, care and treatment is a right that should be secured at every stage of life.

European Heart Failure Awareness Day 2012

heartfailureawarenessdayOn 11th, 12th and 13th of May (depending on the country) Heart Failure Awareness Days across Europe are organized.

What is Heart Failure? Heart failure is a condition, were the heart is no longer able to pump enough blood in a sufficient matter around the body. It is often a result of coronary heart disease, heart attack or high blood pressure, conditions having a weakening impact on the heart. Symptoms may be shortness of breath, coughing, weight gain, swollen ankles, tiredness, weakness or rapid hear rate. Heart failure is a chronic condition but by adapting your lifestyle e.g. reducing intake of salt, fat and alcohol, stop smoking and adapting mild physical activity life can be prolonged. Each year 3.6 million people in Europe are diagnosed with the chronic disease, however it can be prevented by controlling other medical conditions such as high blood pressure and diabetes, lowering cholesterol levels, limit alcohol intake, regular exercise and not smoking.

For more detailed information on heart failure and some interactive videos click here.

Last year Austria won a prize for its Heart Failure Awareness Day and throughout 2011 managed to keep the issue in the public’s attention via radio programmes. This year they are organizing a press conference in Vienna, raising awareness through a national PR campaign, folders on heart failure will be distributed in hospitals and private practices of family physicians and internists/cardiologists. In addition, a 3-Country meeting (Austria Germany, Switzerland) to educate doctors on heart failure will take place. In Latvia awareness is raised through mass media and lectures for doctors, patients and family members are given. Turkey will participate for the first time by announcing the awareness day in newspapers and distributing information to medical staff.

What will you do to raise awareness of heart failure? If you want to get involved, on European Society of Cardiology’s website promotion material can be downloaded.

Growing stronger together

Today, we celebrate EUROPE day. On 9th of May 1950, the French foreign minister Robert Schuman, read a declaration in front of international press, calling France, Germany and other European countries to pool their coal and steel production together.
His proposal was to create a supranational European Institution managing the coal and steel industry, leading to the creation of the European Coal and Steel community, forming the grounding stones of what we now know to be the European Union (EU). Founding members of the EU were Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, Luxembourg and the Netherlands. In 1957 the European Economic Community was created through the Treaty of Rome. On 1st January 1973 the EU is enlarged by Denmark, Ireland and the United Kingdom and in 1979 citizens can vote for the first time for members of the European Parliament. Did you know that Greece was the 10th member of the EU and is already part of it since 1981?

1986 marks a special and exciting year in the history of Europe, Spain and Portugal become member states and the Single European Act is signed, allowing free flow of trade across the EU. In 1993 the act is completed with the ‘four freedoms’ of: goods, movement, services, people and money and from 1995 onwards citizens of member states are allowed to travel without passports under the Schengen agreement. In 2002 the Euro was introduced and in 2004, ten new members join the EU. For more information on the history of the EU click here.

The theme of this year’s Europe Day is: Growing Stronger Together. Wise words which we should keep in mind, especially during times of economic crisis and austerity measures we should unit and not turn against each other.

Swat out Malaria on World Malaria Day

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April 25 marks the annual celebration of World Malaria Day when malaria organizations and the public join together to increase awareness about this deadly but preventable disease. The theme for this year’s event is Sustain Gains, Save Lives: Invest in Malaria which speaks to the need to invest resources to reach the goal of near-zero malaria deaths by 2015.

Roll Back Malaria estimates that 3.3 billion people, or half of the world’s population, are at risk for contracting malaria. Children under age 5 make up 86% of malaria deaths. According to Malaria No More, every minute a child dies from the disease.

Malaria is transmitted by mosquitoes infected with the parasite Plasmonium. Once inside the human body, the parasite multiplies and begins to affect the red blood cells. If not treated, malaria can disrupt blood flow to vital organs, which becomes life-threatening.

Although according to WHO 655,000 people died of malaria in 2010, the disease is both preventable and treatable. Since 2000 when the global community seriously began combating malaria, mortality rates have fallen 25% worldwide and 33% in the WHO African Region. The most common prevention measure for malaria is an insecticide-treated mosquito net that protects people at night when most transmissions occur.

Early diagnosis and treatment of malaria reduces its symptoms and prevents death. The best available treatment is artemisinin-based combination therapy (ACT). Both the diagnostic tests and the medicine given need to be used strategically to reduce malaria deaths and the risk of the parasite becoming resistant to the medication.

The battle to end malaria has come a long way in recent years, but it is important to still spread the word about the disease so it can be fully eradicated. On World Malaria Day, raise awareness of malaria in your community and participate in the global conversation through the Facebook and Twitter pages of Roll Back Malaria and Malaria No More. Together we can help make malaria a disease of the past.