Health divide in new Quality of Life Survey shows EU should act urgently to strengthen solidarity

EuroHealthNet is calling on the European Commission and Member States to take into account new evidence showing households across Europe are increasingly divided in their state of health as well as their social wellbeing and quality of life. Speaking following the launch today in Brussels of the Eurofound 3rd European Quality of Life Survey report EuroHealthNet Director Clive Needle said this should immediately be taken into account by the Commission and in national capitals in preparation of the next steps for the EU financial framework and state actions to overcome economic and social problems, including reforms for health systems.

'Next week in Brussels we will participate in the Convention against poverty and social exclusion. There we will help to lead a session on tackling the massive health inequalities within and between states that are so vividly demonstrated in this important survey by Eurofound. We want to hear the Presidents of the Commission, Council and Parliament make tangible commitments to act on, and put priority resources into, the social, environmental and economic factors that are causing such distress for millions of European citizens. It is no longer good enough to have Treaty Articles, Council Conclusions, Commission Communications and Parliament resolutions that say they want to tackle need, poverty and exclusion, but then budgets, legislation and regulation that fail to do so or cause more harm. If Europe wants the support of people in need, it has to act on the realities they face.

'We don't advocate for more spending on health care - that is not the solution. The evidence shows that reforms to make social and health systems sustainable mean better investments in promotion of assets like good health and social wellbeing for all, and prevention of the burdens and causes of disease like material deprivation and social exclusion. That is the way to make Europe the dynamic and cohesive continent people want, not only in the EU 2020 strategy but also the WHO 2020 strategy. We hope new Health Commissioner Borg will be as strong in his commitment to promote quality of life, inclusion and wellbeing as his Social Affairs and Employment counterpart. Together they can help to bring heath systems fully behind tackling societal goals and needs that are so clearly shown in this report.

The third European Quality of Survey demonstrates how life satisfaction is associated with income but also consistently with poor health. The impact of the crisis on life satisfaction may not be evident immediately, but declines in happiness and optimism are already apparent throughout the social gradient. There is a need to prevent a downward spiral in public confidence.

The Eurofound report is available here

For more information, contact Ariane Moret