"The European Health Report 2012: Charting the Way to Well-Being", released by the WHO Regional Office for Europe on March 13, reveals some bitter-sweet data: even if there have been important health improvements in the European Region, the inequities across and within the countries are persistent. According to the WHO Regional Director for Europe, Zsuzsanna Jakab, these inequalities are, in some cases, worsening and they must be a “priority for Europe to be addressed collectively”.

This report, which covers the Region’s 53 countries and almost 900 million people, identifies the health trends, priorities and areas for disease prevention, anticipating the challenges Europe will be facing in the future. It also focuses on well-being, a key part of Health 2020, the European health strategy adopted by the 53 European States in September 2012: well-being and health are interactive and multidimensional concepts, the report highlights, and WHO/Europe aims to develop a regional target and indicators on it by the end of 2013.

Some highlights from the report

  • Life expectancy reached 76 years in 2010: major inequities are found between men and women (an average of 72 and 80 years, respectively), countries and population groups. By 2050, more than 25% of the Region’s population is expected to be over 65 years old.
  • Mortality continues to decline, with the highest rates in the eastern part of the Region. Non-communicable diseases account for about 80% of mortality (mainly cardiovascular diseases, followed by cancer - although cancer is the main cause of premature death); communicable diseases are less frequent than in the rest of the world, but remain a concern.
  • Tobacco and alcohol are among the main health risk factors.
  • Europe has the lowest child mortality in the world (7,9 per 1.000 live births) and maternal mortality has lowered to 13,3 per 100.000 live births.

The European Region has an advantage in having nine out of the ten countries with the highest life expectancy, but the WHO has warned that all these gains could be threatened if economic or social crises are coupled with reductions in spending on health and other services.

- (full report) "The European Health Report 2012: Charting the Way to Well-Being",

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Last modified on March 29 2013.