Preconception health and care should be on the European agenda!
During the “European Policy and Expert Summit on Preconception Health”, which took place on 7 and 8 March in The Hague, The Netherlands, International experts concluded that preconception care is lacking on the European health agenda. Therefore they call for policy makers and medical organisations to take action and to implement the recommendations that have been developed by the WHO.
The importance of preconception health and care
The preconception period, preceding pregnancy, offers several opportunities to prevent congenital disorders and to contribute to the health of the mother and her (future) child. Therefore, preconception care and preconception education are of utmost importance.
Preconception care has been defined by WHO as follows: “The provision of biomedical, behavioural and social health interventions to women and couples before conception occurs. It aims at improving their health status, and reducing behaviours and individual and environmental factors that contribute to poor maternal and child health outcomes. Its ultimate aim is to improve maternal and child health, in both the short and long term.”
Call to action
The international participants of the “European Policy and Expert Summit on Preconception Health” noted that as of today, preconception care barely has been on the agenda in the health policies of Europe and the European countries.
A ‘sense of urgency’ is needed! Therefore, an urgent appeal was made to European and national governments, as well as medical learned societies, to take action and to integrate the international WHO-recommendations in their health programs.
On International Women’s Day (8 March), the summit participants stressed the need of informing this generation of young women on the relevance of preparing for a healthy pregnancy and their involvement in advocacy. The importance on integration of preconception care into a wider European and national health policy and the use of modern means of communication and publicity campaigns were advised.
About the Summit
On 7 March, international medical experts, policy makers and patient organisations gathered in the ‘Europe House’, The Hague, The Netherlands, for a two-day “European Policy and Expert Summit on Preconception Health”. The summit was organised by the Preparing for Life Foundation, a network of international medical professionals, scientists, patients and service clubs. Among the participants was a delegation from the African continent who decided to organise a similar summit in South-East Africa in 2020.
For more information, see WHO website