The Steering Group on Health Promotion, Disease Prevention and Management of Non-Communicable Diseases (SGPP)
Non-communicable chronic diseases (NCDs) account for 80% of the cost of health systems. They are mostly preventable. Reducing their burden takes commitment, teamwork and effective coordination. One clear way to harness these forces is to find best practices that have already been proven to work and quickly put them to use elsewhere (adjusting where needed). Building on experience, it is possible to avoid the repetition of mistakes, and to replicate success, saving time, money and lives, and bringing real help to those who need it. The European Commission set up the SGPP with these very goals in mind. The Group uses a three-step approach: i) ask EU Member States about their priorities for reducing these diseases; ii) collect validated best practices in those areas, and iii) make support available for countries to (adapt and) roll out those practices.
The Group uses a three-step approach: i) ask EU Member States about their priorities for reducing these diseases; ii) collect validated best practices in those areas, and iii) make support available for countries to (adapt and) roll out those practices. Importantly, the process focuses on tried and tested best-in-class approaches (and not on the minimum common denominator) and support for implementing these practices is identified across EU financial envelopes. This is an important step towards working without silos and reinforcing the call for true collaborations across programs. Peer support also plays a big role, with countries helping each other to adapt and expand their experiences (as does stakeholder involvement, since practices can also be suggested for evaluation via a dedicated portal). The financing comes from the EU Health Programmes, the Structural Reform Support Programme and other sources in the EU Budget. The Steering Group has focused on cancer (a joint project between Italy, Romania and Slovakia on colorectal cancer screening funded under the Structural Reform Support Programme), cardiovascular diseases and rare diseases. In 2018, the areas were nutrition and physical activity, and, in 2019, the focus was on mental health. In 2020, the SGPP prioritised prevention of non-communicable diseases. In 2021-2022, a dedicated best practice call is planned to collect and transfer best practices in the area of Mental Health (related to Covid-19). The best practice implementation is monitored by OECD.
The SGPP has implemented projects (or join actions) in areas of cancer, cardiovascular diseases, rare diseases, nutrition and physical activity, mental health and prevention of non-communicable diseases in a number of EU Member States. These wider-scale implementations of best practices will contribute to reducing by one-third premature mortality from non-communicable diseases through prevention and treatment and promotion of mental health and well-being. A thorough evaluation of the health impact is being conducted for each implementation by the OECD.
The enabling factors are the collaborative stance of the EU Member States authorities, which have wholeheartedly embraced the approach. The constraints refer to the challenges of working across institutional silos.
The SGPP, as group and process, has been running for more than 3 years now and is planned to continue. It will be sustainable as long as the Commission and the Member States continue to agree on its usefulness.
SGPP website: https://ec.europa.eu/health/non_communicable_diseases/steeringgroup_pro… Best Practice Portal, where best practices’ calls are published and candidate practices submitted: https://webgate.ec.europa.eu/dyna/bp-portal/
Covid-19 has not affected the processes and functioning of SGPP, apart from the fact that numerous meetings were moved online. Knowing that our work focuses on already implemented and evaluated practices in Member States, it is slightly premature to have solid practices directly related to Covid-19 due to its novelty. However, in 2021-2022, a dedicated best practice call is planned to collect and transfer best practices in the area of Mental Health (related to Covid-19 consequences). More Covid-19-related best practices are expected to be gathered and rolled out in near future.
Deliverables & Timeline
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The SGPP key stakeholders are the Health authorities/Ministries of the European Union Member States. Multiple health stakeholders across the EU are participating in the process of collection and transfer of best practices.