12 steps to tackle the burden of chronic diseases

Chronic diseases already account for 70% to 80% of healthcare budgets in Europe. They constitute a serious threat to health systems’ sustainability if not tackled. Today, clear steps towards addressing the broad chronic disease challenges were presented to policymakers, researchers, and international organisations and NGOs at the JA-CHRODIS final conference. The proposals are the culmination of three years of international collaboration in the area of chronic diseases.

Ahead of his key note speech at the conference, Vytenis Andriukaitis, European Commissioner for Health and Food Safety, stated that “More than half a million people of working age die prematurely from chronic diseases in the EU every year. This represents a huge cost for society and economy – EUR 115 billion in lost productivity and major health systems’ expenditure. Of course, an even greater cost is that of pain and suffering for the family and friends. This is why I will never tire of speaking about health promotion, disease prevention and protection measures to keep people in good health, and for as long as possible. Participation of all relevant stakeholders is also key. JA-CHRODIS is an example of such participation, collaboration and cooperation. Through a range of concrete actions it has made an important contribution to address the challenges posed by chronic diseases and to make health systems more sustainable, efficient and resilient.”

Carlos Segovia, Coordinator of JA-CHRODIS, launched the ‘12 steps’ document setting out recommended actions for scaling up, transfer, and implementation of practices in order to ultimately reduce the burden of chronic diseases. He explained, “These 12 steps constitute a valuable and practical tool to inspire and guide healthcare professionals and policy makers in their work on the promotion of healthy ageing as well as prevention, management and care of chronic diseases. Thus, they serve a double purpose: firstly, it highlights our results after three years of hard work in one comprehensive, yet concise, statement; secondly, it showcases the possibilities that lie in exchanging good practices at European level to tackle the burden of chronic diseases.”

In various workshops, participants learned about the various outputs of the Joint Action, including the CHRODIS Platform, the online repository of peer-reviewed good practices, the Policy Brief on National Diabetes Plans (NDPs), the multimorbidity care model, and transferability factors for good practices in health promotion and primary prevention.

The conference also heard about wider implications of the chronic disease challenge and how Member States and the EU can address them. Speakers including Vytenis Andriukaitis and WHO Europe’s Regional Director Zsuzsanna Jakab, addressed how chronic diseases can be reduced and how policies can be of support. Panel discussions also focused on how to make health systems more sustainable, efficient and resilient by integrating health promotion in the wider systems, improving intersectoral work and promoting comprehensive approaches when caring for patients with chronic diseases.


NIVEL participated in this Joint Action on behalf of the Netherlands ministry of Health. NIVEL contributed in particular to the Work Package on improving care for people with multiple chronic conditions (multimorbidity) in European countries. As such, NIVEL identified groups of multimorbid patients in the Netherlands who are especially vulnerable for poor health outcomes (see artikel Taak 1-artikel 1) or a high use of health care (see artikel Taak 1 – artikel 2). Moreover, NIVEL identified innovative integrated care practices in European countries that aim to improve care for people with multiple chronic conditions (see rapport Taak 2 en 3) and reviewed, together with JA-CHRODIS partners, the evidence on the effectiveness of such practices worldwide (see artikel Taak 2).

NIVEL also contributed to the development of the JA-CHRODIS Multimorbidity Care Model and, together with Vilans, piloted the applicability of the model as a basis to evaluate and improve multimorbidity care in the Netherlands at the clinical practice level. The insights and experiences obtained by these activities will be shared with Dutch stakeholders at an invitational conference on March 30, in Utrecht (see invitation). In case you are interested to participate in this invitational conference, please contact dr. Mieke Rijken (