The British Medical Association (BMA) has published a new briefing urging the UK government to introduce a programme of mandatory folic acid fortification. Many women of childbearing age in the UK are aware that increasing folic acid intake significantly reduces the risk of a foetus developing neural tube defects such as Spina Bifida. Flour in the UK is already fortified with calcium, thiamine, iron and niacin, so the inclusion of folic acid would not be radical. It is commonplace to fortify breakfast cereals, so a mandatory programme for flour would not be out of the ordinary and would ensure that nearly all women would be reached. The BMA strongly supports the mandatory fortification of flour with folic acid as a safe and cost-effective public health measure to reduce the number of pregnancies affected by NTDs. This should be accompanied by advice for women of childbearing age who do not consume any flour-based products.
On 30 October 2013, patients in countries across Africa will come together to mark the first ever regional Patient Solidarity Day. They will call on all Ministers of Health and all healthcare stakeholders to “Improve lives through patient-centred healthcare.” Patient-centred healthcare is the most effective way to address these challenges and deliver a healthcare system that will meet the real needs of patients and shape the future of healthcare in Africa. Patients must be recognized as equal partners in their healthcare. Patient Solidarity Day is an initiative that was created by patient advocates in Kenya and Uganda in 2011. 2013 marks the first regional day, led by members of the International Alliance of Patients’ Organizations. Find out how you can support Patient Solidarity Day.
The European Year of Citizens Alliance (EYCA) is an open network of European and national civil society organisations willing to promote active citizenship as a core element of the European democracy in the frame of the European Year of Citizens 2013 (EYC2013). The EYC2013 is dedicated to the rights that come with EU citizenship. Over this year, the European Commission will encourage dialogue between all levels of government, civil society and business at events and conferences around Europe to discuss those EU rights and build a vision of how the EU should be in 2020. The rights of EU citizens are enshrined in the Treaty on European Union and complement national rights.