Tackling Europe’s biggest healthcare challenges

The Wild Card initiative, launched this month by EIT Health, seeks to engage the biggest and brightest minds in implementing ground-breaking and high-risk ideas in healthcare. The two areas of focus for 2018 are: application of artificial intelligence and big data to diagnostics and finding non-pharmaceutical solutions to antibiotic resistance. In this inspired opinion piece, Jan-Philipp Beck, COO at EIT Health, who is based in Munich, Germany, tells us about the main challenges ahead to find solutions to these issues.

Human nature thwarts wellness

As Easter is looming, some of us already know that eating large amounts of chocolate eggs will be too much of a temptation to resist. This Easter chocolate binge is symptomatic of our approach to health. And to preventing chronic diseases that may affect us later in life. Until we actually see the damage done by such often irresponsible behaviour, we are not going to change. Clearly, we are our own worst enemies, when it comes to keeping ourselves in good health and taking preventative steps.

Sweet tooth: countering one of our most lethal addictions

Sugar is one of the next targets of health policy makers in Europe. It features as one of the ingredients in the latest food reformulation roadmap, just published by the European Commission. This ingredient has crept up in European diets unprecedented levels. As a result it could have serious consequences for the heath of European citizens, reflected in the increase of diseases such as type 2 diabetes. Today, sugar has become very political. And the debate rages on between those concerned for public health and those in favour of preserving consumer choice, avoiding nanny states interventions and protecting the food industry’s market share.

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Chronic diseases: citizens’ rights and responsibilities

Despite advances in our understanding of management and prevention, chronic diseases are still on the rise. By 2030, estimates point that an additional 52 million people will die from chronic diseases. Public healthcare systems are under strain, and their budgets are getting smaller. How can we reverse the chronic disease epidemic? First and foremost, citizens can help themselves. Some governments in Europe have already tried to encourage healthier lifestyle choices. Is promoting healthy lifestyles authoritarian? Or is a government that fails to do so guilty of neglect?

A chemical Christmas

The Christmas meal in Britain usually centers on turkey, in Denmark roast pork. The French penchant is for goose, while Germans may opt for suckling pig. Regardless of the fleshy focus, a feast of culinary chemistry is at play when you prepare and cook the big meal. However, if you don’t get the chemistry right there’s more to worry about than dry meat and vegetables when the microbiology is dished up.