EuroHealthNet launches the debate on the re-orientation of health systems

Tomorrow in Brussels - on Thursday 31st May 2012 - in the context of its Health Equity Week, EuroHealthNet will launch the debate on a re-orientation towards modern, responsive and sustainable health promoting systems, through more effective health promotion and disease prevention in and outside the health sector.

Representatives from the European Commission and health experts will debate on how investing in healthy societies, equitable access to health services, and in capacity are essential to the right re-orientation and sustainability of health systems. While improving health is the main objective of a health system, there are two aspects to this aim: Achieving the best attainable average of health as well as the smallest feasible differences among individuals and groups ("fairness"). The economic and financial crisis has put pressure on public spending, including health system expenditure. Tackling health inequalities through addressing the social determinants of health can alleviate this pressure, and greater attention to health inequalities can improve healthcare efficiency.

EuroHealhNet has previously illustrated the strong link existing between health, poverty and social inclusion. Poor health and mental well-being may even be more prominent predictors of social exclusion than low income or paid employment. Furthermore, in a context where the workforce will be dominated by people above 50 years-old in the next decade, evidence suggests that poor health reduces labour force participation. Investing in a healthy older workforce is therefore essential to achieve the objectives of the EU2020 Strategy for Smart, Sustainable and Inclusive Growth.

Equitable access to healthcare is essential to minimise disadvantage of vulnerable groups regarding morbidity and mortality. Above all, in times of crisis and austerity, cuts in social spending in the context of EU Members States' budget consolidation programmes impact strongly on the availability of social and health support services, particularly to those in need. These cuts coincide with a greater demand for social services at a time when 23.4% of the EU population are at risk of poverty or social exclusion.

The working paper to be debated has been commissioned by EuroHealthNet as part of its policy dialogue process within its framework actions under the social inclusion strand of the PROGRESS programme. This is also a contribution to the implementation of the EU 2020 strategy and its Platform Against Poverty flasgship priority.

Information about EuroHealthNet's Health Equity Week is available on its Website

For more information, contact Ms. Ariane Moret