Magazine article European Social Policy

Public Health : Commission Set to Narrow Health Gap

Magazine article European Social Policy

Public Health : Commission Set to Narrow Health Gap

Article excerpt

The health gap' is becoming wider across the Union, with the estimated life expectancy or Roma a good ten years less than that for the general population and life expectancy at birth significantly lower in the Eastern EU countries than in the West. To counter this trend, the European Commission proposed a set of actions in a communication entitled Solidarity in health', which was released on 20 October in Strasbourg. In 2012, the executive will publish a progress report on this issue.

"I want to see a Europe where everyone has the opportunity to enjoy a high level of health, regardless of where they live or their social or ethnic background," said Health Commissioner Androulla Vassiliou. According to the Commission, the indirect economic costs of the persistent inequalities in health are "potentially considerable but difficult to estimate". A recent study said costs vary between 1.2% and 9% of EU GDP.

Through its proposed actions, the EU executive aims to raise awareness, promote policy coordination and the exchange of information and best practice. Not all member states give priority to public health policies, the Commission says. "Overahalf of the EU member states do not place policy emphasis on reducing health inequalities and there is a lack of comprehensive inter-sectoral strategies," it says, adding thata"Policies implemented lack evaluation and dissemination, which limits knowledge of policy effectiveness". …

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