Politicians should switch from kind words to firm actions


Civil society urges decision-makers to step up action to tackle health inequalities. The civil societies consider that the EU leaders won’t listen, but that this is the time to decrease the inequalities in health protection between the richest and the poorest.


Gaps in life expectancy for both men and women narrowed over the last decade mainly due to a decline in infant mortality – but there still remains a significant difference between how long people live and how much of their years lived are spent in health (healthy life expectancy). In fact, the latest figures show that there are twice as many years lost due to ill health or premature death in low- and middle-income countries than in high-income countries in Europe.

“Why must anyone suffer only because he or she was born and has lived on the ‘wrong’ side of Europe?,” questioned Joanne Vincenten, Secretary General of the European Child Safety Alliance.

“Increasing inequalities in living conditions are seen everywhere, even in more affluent societies. Take the example of Belgium where Medicins du Monde reports the alarming fact that today, in the 21st century, only 6% of Roma children living in Brussels, the capital of Europe, are vaccinated. And from our own work, injury and accidents for children already create the greatest inequity for children’s health and the growing economic divide likely means it will get worse,” added Ms. Vincenten.

This call from the public health community, social actors and ordinary people, is in stark contrast in their urgency to lack of sufficient attention to these issues in the State of the European Union. Serious questions are raised about the ability of the current political leadership in the EU to listen to and tackle the issues at the foremost of the minds of people living in Europe, and the consequent erosion of trust in Europe, its institutions and leadership.

 “If we want to be serious and break up this stagnation in progress on closing the unjustified and preventable gap in health status between our richest and our poorest members of society, this is the moment to strike. The current economic situation should be an opportunity for change and bold visions, not inactivity and more of the same game,” said Monika Kosińska, Secretary General of EPHA (European Public Health Alliance – EPHA).

“We know what the root causes that bring about health inequalities are and we must demand the leadership and commitment from our political decision-makers to transform nice words into hard actions, good governance and inclusive economic progress. We know the problem, the causes and the solutions – the real question is the political failure to do what’s needed,” Ms. Kosińska concluded.

You can find more about this here: http://www.epha.org/a/5817

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