Members of the European Parliament recommended: Take medical use of cannabis seriously

Members of the European Parliament (MEP) proposed the ways to address research gaps on medical cannabis and call on member states to seize the potential of cannabis-based medicines.

In a resolution adopted on Wednesday 11 September, MEPs call on the Commission and national authorities to draw a clear distinction between medical cannabis and other uses of cannabis. The resolution urges the Commission and member states to address regulatory, financial and cultural barriers which burden scientific research and invites them to properly fund research. The EU should embark on more research and stimulate innovation with regard to medicinal cannabis projects.

MEPs call on member states to allow doctors to use their professional judgement in prescribing cannabis-based medicines. When effective, these medicines are to be covered by health insurance schemes in the same way as other types of medicine, they say.

European Parliament

The regulation of cannabis-based medicines would translate into additional revenue for public authorities, would limit the black market and ensure quality and accurate labelling. It would also limit minors’ access to this substance, they say.

MEPs say that there is evidence that cannabis or cannabinoids may be effective in increasing appetite and decreasing weight loss associated with HIV/AIDS. Medical cannabis may also help to alleviate the symptoms of mental disorders such as psychosis or Tourette syndrome, and to alleviate the symptoms of epilepsy, as well as Alzheimer’s, arthritis, asthma, cancer, Crohn’s disease and glaucoma. They also help to reduce the risk of obesity and diabetes and ease menstrual pain.

Whilst the WHO has officially recommended that the cannabis compound cannabidiol (CBD) should not be classified as a controlled substance, legislation in member states differs widely on the subject of cannabis for medicinal purposes.

The European Parliament is made up of 751 Members elected in the 28 Member States of the enlarged European Union. Since 1979 MEPs have been elected by direct universal suffrage for a five-year period.

World Health Organisation released first guideline on digital health interventions

The World Health Organisation (WHO) released new recommendations on 10 ways that countries can use digital health technology, accessible via mobile phones, tablets and computers, to improve people’s health and essential services.

Over the past two years, WHO systematically reviewed evidence on digital technologies and consulted with experts from around the world to produce recommendations on some key ways such tools may be used for maximum impact on health systems and people’s health.

One digital intervention already having positive effects in some areas is sending reminders to pregnant women to attend antenatal care appointments and having children return for vaccinations. Other digital approaches reviewed include decision-support tools to guide health workers as they provide care; and enabling individuals and health workers to communicate and consult on health issues from across different locations.

The guideline emphasizes the importance of reaching vulnerable populations, and ensuring that digital health does not endanger them in any way.

The guideline demonstrates that health systems need to respond to the increased visibility and availability of information. People also must be assured that their own data is safe and that they are not being put at risk because they have accessed information on sensitive health topics, such as sexual and reproductive health issues.

The guidelines also makes recommendations about telemedicine, which allows people living in remote locations to obtain health services by using mobile phones, web portals, or other digital tools. WHO points out that this is a valuable complement to face-to-face-interactions, but it cannot replace them entirely. It is also important that consultations are conducted by qualified health workers and that the privacy of individuals’ health information is maintained.

This guideline represents the first of many explorations into the use of digital technologies and has only covered a fraction of the many aspects of digital health.

In 2018, governments unanimously adopted a World Health Assembly resolution calling on WHO to develop a global strategy on digital health to support national efforts to achieve universal health coverage. That strategy is scheduled to be considered at the World Health Assembly in 2020.

To support governments in monitoring and coordination of digital investments in their country, WHO has developed the Digital Health Atlas, an online global repository where implementers can register their digital health activities.

To get more information follow this link>>>

UN agencies statement on ending discrimination in health care settings

Discrimination in health care settings is widespread across the world and takes many forms. It violates the most fundamental human rights protected in international treaties and in national laws and constitutions. People we work for and with experience it very often.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) had issues a Joint United Nations statement, signed by 12 UN agencies, on ending discrimination in health care settings. Recognizing that discrimination in health care settings is a major barrier to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals, United Nations entities commit to working together to support Member States in taking coordinated multisectoral action to eliminate discrimination in health care settings.

The Statement is available at http://www.unaids.org/sites/default/files/media_asset/ending-discrimination-healthcare-settings_en.pdf.

Among a number of measures, the statement called for the “reviewing and repealing punitive laws that have been proven to have negative health outcomes” by member states, which includes “drug use or possession of drugs for personal use”.

The DPNSEE Office, in cooperation with SUPRAM – The Association of Lawyers for Medical and Health Law of Serbia, analysed the situation in the country and prepared a document which highlights some of the basic international documents and national legislation on discrimination, especially in the area of health care. Those who can understand Serbian can download the document presenting the situation following this link. We are in communication with our member organisations in Serbia, with the idea to make a public event to present the Statement and the document produced and call for full respect of the legislation and fight against discrimination. For this, we plan to partner with The Commissioner for the Protection of Equality and UN representatives in the country.

For others, we prepared the set of excerpts from the international documents which is in another document. Please feel free to have a look at the document linked here and if you think you can start a similar campaign like we plan for Serbia, analyse your national legislation which deals with discrimination, access to health and social care, quality of health protection, patients’ safety as well as strategies in these areas. Should you need any support, please don’t hesitate to contact us.