The impact of high living costs and decreasing income available for essential services and goods – such as healthcare - have been widespread. It is currently the most pressing worry for 93% of Europeans, with 39% saying they are facing difficulties paying their bills.1 In fact, the cost-of-living crisis may increase poverty in the EU by up to 5% above the already persistent poverty level of 21.7% among the general population, and 24.4% among children. This risks widening health inequalities in Europe.
A New EuroHealthNet Policy Précis sets out policies, good practices and concrete recommendations on how to pursue ‘health equity-centred’ social protection and care in face of the rising cost of living. The Précis is released ahead of the upcoming Porto Social Forum on 26-27 May 2023 and its expected Political Declaration.
There is a strong link between poverty and socioeconomic exclusion, and physical and mental ill-health. Not seeking care may result in delayed diagnoses and missed treatments, with costly, potentially life-threatening implications. Declining disposable income in times of cut-backs on pandemic-era social protection measures are likely to lead to major negative impacts on people's opportunities for a healthy life.
Health equity-centred social protection shields people’s health from the impact of worsening living conditions. It prioritises social investments above austerity measures and budgetary cuts. Ultimately, a healthier and more social Europe will form the foundation for an alternative inclusive economy as envisaged by an ‘Economy of Wellbeing.
Director of EuroHealthNet
The new Policy Précis provides an overview of EU policies, tools and programmes that can help governments at all levels strengthen measures to mitigate the negative economic, social and health consequences at individual and societal levels. It provides inspirational examples of how public authorities are taking action to implement more health-promoting social protection and care services.
The eight recommendations given by EuroHealthNet include to
- Increase political and public health efforts to raise awareness of the need to tackle the mental and physical health consequences and inequalities associated with the cost-of-living crisis.
- Encourage development and implementation of national and sub-national health equity and wellbeing strategies and systematic use of health equity impact assessments.
- Protect public spendings in health and social inclusion from cuts.
Speed up implementation of the EU legislative actions on minimum wages and minimum income.
EuroHealthNet also published a new flashcard as part of its European Pillar of Social Rights (EPSR) Flashcard Tool. The new flashcard covers EPSR Principle 14 on minimum income, setting out what public health authorities across Europe are doing to help build progress. The upcoming Porto Social Forum will allow exchange of policies and good practices, also anticipating the EU institutional renewal and new EU priorities for 2024-2029.