EU PROTECTS > Our Health

Our Health

Thanks to cutting-edge developments in science, we’re living longer and staying healthier than ever before. But we still need to shield ourselves against many health hazards, such as unsafe products, life-threatening diseases and dangerous chemicals.

The European Union takes its responsibility to look after its citizens seriously. Every day, heroes from different EU countries work together to help us stay healthy and free from danger. These are their stories.

Vaccinations

“I was afraid to vaccinate my children. I only ever wanted the best for them.”

Marinela Diaconu

Unity and immunity: How the EU makes sure vaccines are safe and available throughout Europe

The first day of crèche, a playdate in the park or a packed train carriage; it's normal for children to be exposed to germs. Vaccines protect them against viruses and bacteria that cause serious infectious diseases like measles or whooping cough. In the face of disinformation and hesitation, the EU is helping public health experts and doctors ensure the safety and effectiveness of vaccines Europe-wide.

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Food allergens

"My daughter suffers from a really serious peanut allergy. Not knowing the ingredients in her food could be life-threatening."

Daniela Halm

In a nutshell: How the EU protects citizens from dangerous food ingredients

For people with food allergies, simply eating a snack containing the wrong ingredient could end in disaster. Find out about the European food labelling system that is helping families dealing with food allergies live normal and healthy lives. Then, see how these rules were put to the test when Germany and Austria discovered peanuts in a batch of pastries. Thanks to all of these safeguards, European consumers can shop and eat without worrying about what might be lurking on their plate.

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Threats to our health

“Having access to the top European specialists was essential to find the best possible treatment for our son.”

K & J

A second opinion: How EU networks share knowledge to save lives

In Europe, there are around 30 million people living with rare diseases and conditions, but no country alone has the knowledge or capacity to treat them. In 2017, medical practitioners representing 28 centres in 13 EU countries helped a family doctor diagnose and decide on treatment for a child with a rare case of epilepsy.

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Effects of climate change

“At my age, I don’t want to find myself in danger every time I leave my house.”

Umbelina Martinho

Keeping cool: How Europe is using natural solutions to fight heatwaves 

In Europe alone, heatwaves cause more than 3,000 deaths per year. From a natural green wind corridor in Cascais to state-of-the-art European satellites tracking soaring temperatures in Bologna, the EU supports town planners, architects and scientists working on local solutions to deal with extreme heat. What’s at stake? Thousands of lives every summer throughout Europe.

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Threats to our health

The €2 billion provided by the EU helped contain one of the biggest Ebola outbreaks in history.

Containing Ebola: Protecting those in life-threatening situations

With Ebola raging in West Africa, the EU helped hundreds of people from across Europe join forces to tackle the outbreak.

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Cancer

“When I got the diagnosis, I had just become a grandmother. I thought: ‘This is it, I won’t see them grow up.’”

Gertrude Abela

Beyond cancer: How the EU is helping transform cancer prevention and survivorship

When patients survive cancer, their fight is far from over. An EU-wide network of experts and associations are helping survivors, like Gertrude, return to their normal lives. Beyond medical treatment and recovery, EU research funds are also generating breakthroughs in cancer screening and prevention.

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Chemicals in our clothing

"It’s reassuring to know my son will be safe in clothes that are free from toxic chemicals."

Gosia Calabrò

Tightening the seams: How the EU is protecting us from toxic chemicals in clothes

Whether it’s the start of a new season, your child’s first day of school or a great deal during sales – there are many things to consider when buying clothes. But there are some chemical substances that, if found in clothing, are dangerous to human health. This is why the EU – with support from scientists, chemical inspectors and textile companies – is limiting the use of 33 chemicals in all textile products made and sold on the European market.

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Threats to our health

“For the first time my heart beats normally. The operation has really given me a new horizon.”

Pieter Kappelhof

Keeping the beat: How the EU is healing hearts with cutting-edge treatments

Most of us take having a healthy heart for granted. But it’s a luxury for the many people suffering from heart diseases. Over the past 6 years, 2 EU-funded clinical trials have developed a longer-lasting human heart valve, which has already improved the lives of many patients throughout Europe.

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Unsafe products

“I want to be 100% sure that the toys my son plays with are safe.”

Svenja Weber

Hidden hazard: How a surprise toy put all European countries on high alert

A favourite character, a preferred colour or flavour – these are the choices that guide us when shopping for children. Potential risks can easily be overlooked. When Finland signalled that an imported juice bottle with a surprise toy posed a choking hazard, Luxembourg was one of the 31 countries to receive the warning. Thanks to a Europe-wide alert system, thousands of young children were kept out of harm’s way.

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Did you know?

81 YEARS

the average life expectancy at birth of EU citizens in 2016.

86%

of deaths caused by natural hazards in the EU are as a result of extreme temperatures during heatwaves.

TWO OUT OF THREE PEOPLE

(67.2%) in the EU perceive their health as either very good or good.

THE STORIES DON'T STOP HERE

There are heroes in your area that work – day in, day out – to protect your health and that of your family and loved ones. Read their stories to discover how they’re helping.