Health-EU Portal now available in 20 languages

Brussels 27 February 2007Worried that you'll let those New Year's resolutions slide and want to find out more about healthier living? Are you a health professional wanting to read up on the latest European Union (EU) legislation? Concerned about the risks of pandemic flu? Going on holiday and need some advice about vaccinations or access to health care? Do you want to know more about the EU's health policy and how it affects you? From today, Health-EU is now available in 20 European languages. Initially launched in English in May 2006 by the European Commission's Directorate General for Health and Consumer Affairs, it is a "one stop shop" for Europeans wanting to find out what's happening across a broad spectrum of health issues in their own countries and across Europe. It is aimed at everybody interested in health, as well as health care professionals, scientists and policy makers.

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The portal brings together all the major international and non governmental (NGO) links, all the news, events, advice and expertise from across Europe and shows that eHealth in today's society can bring Europeans together. Whether the user is concerned about the risks of smoking, air pollution, bio-terrorism or the quality of ingredients used in their children's school dinners, the portal gives easy access to reliable information from health professionals and policy makers. Embracing the use of the internet to create an innovative and dynamic eHealth environment shows the EU's commitment towards implementing multilingual ICT resources and a willingness to embrace and encourage the use of new technology.

"Healthy eating", "physical activity", "HIV/AIDS", "road safety", "cancer" - the amount of health terminology we are bombarded with in our everyday lives is staggering. Type in a few keywords into a search engine and the results are often confusing, unstructured, and unreliable. Last year nearly half of all people in the EU used the internet regularly. In the first quarter of 2006, 47 percent of individuals used the internet at least once a week from home, at work, on the move using WIFI technology or at an internet café. With millions of EU citizens using the internet as their main daily information fix it is no surprise that they consequently browse the net when they have a health concern, often using forums or chatrooms to talk to people on-line about their issues.

One of the main goals of the Portal is to help people take responsibility for their own health, to raise awareness about health issues and to provide news of health related events and developments across Europe in one easy "dose". There are six major thematic areas in the portal which provide reliable and easily accessible information and statistics on a wide range of topics:

  • "My Health" e.g. prenatal health monitoring, nutrition and physical activity, food and product safety.
  • "My Lifestyle" e.g. nutrition, alcohol, drugs and tobacco, travel, sports and leisure, and sex.
  • "My Environment" e.g. environmental health and consumer safety, physical, biological and chemical risks, road safety, and bioterrorism.
  • "Health Problems" e.g. mental health, HIV/AIDS, influenza, cancer, heart disease and other non-communicable diseases.
  • "Care for Me" e.g. patient safety, mobility, long-term care, treatment, and carers.
  • "Health in the EU" e.g. policies, programmes, research, prevention and promotion, health indicators, and statistics.

Health and Consumer Protection Commissioner Markos Kyprianou stated: "The Health-EU Portal is a very large project bringing together all EU Member States as well as EFTA nations, international organisations and NGOs. Web surfers will have access to thousands of links to trustworthy sources. The translation of the Portal into all official EU languages means that up to 1,5 billion people worldwide can use it to help them to make healthy choices."

Visitors will also find facts about the latest news, events, statistics and health indicators at European level, in addition to legislation and publications relevant to their health topic of interest.

There is information from all European agencies with a role in health, for example those working on communicable diseases, drug prevention, medicines and health and safety at work. A Member States' section gives access to health and health-related policies of all EU governments and further sections on European NGOs and international organisations give details of their work.

The Health-EU project is an initiative of the EU Public Health Programme 2003-2008 with financial support from the Interchange of Data between Administrations, which aims to promote greater involvement of the public, institutions, organisations and associations in health. The Portal also corresponds with the aims of the e-Europe Action Plan - providing citizens with simple, clear and scientifically sound on-line information.

An Editorial Board composed of Commission services and Member States representatives oversees the content development of the Portal using standard procedures. The Portal is available at http://health.europa.eu


Leslie Versweyveld

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