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The reflection process on chronic diseases

3 January 2013

European Union


The EU approach to the challenge of chronic diseases requires an integrated response focusing on risk factors across sectors and policy fields, and on prevention, combined with efforts to strengthen health systems.

The Council of the European Union, in its Conclusions of 7 December 2010 has invited the Member States and the European Commission to initiate a reflection process on chronic diseases "aiming to identify options to optimize the response to the challenges of chronic diseases, the cooperation between Member States" and to "lead this reflection process in close dialogue with relevant stakeholders, including patients, professionals, healthcare payers and providers, and take into account e-health and the potential contribution of other relevant policy areas, in particular employment, disability, education and housing".

First steps

This reflection process already resulted in an interim report (223 KB) which identifies two main priorities for EU action: chronic disease prevention and health promotion and chronic disease management with an emphasis on patient empowerment.

Follow up of the reflection process

The first step to implement the consensus with Member States is the launch under the 2013 Health Programme of a Joint Action (JA) among MS addressing chronic diseases and promoting healthy ageing across the life cycle. This JA addresses the challenge of the increased burden that chronic conditions and diseases place on the health systems and individuals in Europe, with a specific focus on multi-morbidity.

The main objectives are:

  • To map across Europe new innovative actions in the field of social media, behavioural science and new technologies as well as the more traditional actions on the risk factors
  • To examine the barriers to uptake for prevention, targeted screening of risk groups, and treatment of major chronic diseases (taking diabetes as an example)
  • To look in more detail at how to address multi-morbidity and other complex issues in the framework of chronic diseases

Implementation of the Joint Action will start later in 2013.

Key documents related to the reflection process

Further information