What can governments do to improve secondary prevention?
Governments have the care models to improve secondary prevention in cardiovascular disease, but they appear hesitant to push health systems to achieve consistent success in this area. Analysis has shown that policies lag behind most other non-communicable diseases in European countries. This is perhaps all the more baffling as failures in cardiovascular disease prevention cost our societies a lot of money, and create inequality. In many European countries, stroke, heart attack and other types of cardiovascular disease take up a large, if not the biggest, proportion of healthcare spending.
How did we get here? There are several possible explanations, but most commentators agree that progress from primary prevention and lifestyle changes, particularly reducing smoking, has been widely seen as ‘good enough’ by ministries of health. It is also clear that policymakers still do not understand the role of cardiovascular disease a as major cause of hospital admissions.
This has to change, and fast. No central plan or strategy makes a difference purely on its own, but it can give a clear framework to understand the scale of opportunity, where to invest, and what societies expect to see achieved. It would also send a clear message of intent to health systems in need of leadership and vision.
A message, then, to every government across Europe promising to rebuild, invest in sustainability and resilience, and secure greater fairness in health and wellbeing:
Start with cardiovascular disease, and think big.
The opinions expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of The Health Policy Partnership.