Gaping healthcare inequalities

Published on 13 March 2013 at 14:05

"Health is dividing Europe in two," notes El País commenting on the publication of The European Health Report by the World Health Organisation (WHO).

The Spanish daily highlights that "Spaniards are among the Europeans who live the longest." This longevity is explained in part by their Mediterranean diet and lower alcohol consumption. Spanish women live the longest in Europe, with a life expectancy of 85 years, 12 years longer than people from Moldova or Kyrgyzstan whose life expectancies are the shortest on the continent.

This is one of the indicators that demonstrate the major imbalances which still exist between Europe's 53 countries. Eastern Europe continues to have the worst mortality rates, rates of illness and rates of access to clean water. This paints the picture of a duel continent.

Despite this, "life expectancy is increasing in Europe," notes El País. And German daily Süddeutsche Zeitung also remarks on this situation.

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Life expectancy is clearly increasing. In 2010, Europeans reached an average age of 76, five years more than in 1980. But a huge gap has opened between the countries in which life expectancy is the highest and those in which it is the lowest. The Swiss, Icelanders, and many inhabitants of the Mediterranean zone reach an average age of 82 years. People living in Russia can hope to live only 69 years.

The Süddeutsche Zeitung remarks that the highest cause of death is a heart attack and that the rate of death due to cardiovascular illness is 13 times higher in Eastern European countries than in the rest of Europe. For El País, which notes that the report does not take into account the health effects of the crisis, "one of the keys to improving these figures is to improve public health policies".

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