The FINANCIAL — European health report by World Health Organization reveals that life expectancy in the WHO European Region continues to rise, and that some European countries enjoy the highest sense of “life satisfaction” recorded anywhere in the world. However, significant discrepancies between countries across numerous key indicators, and the failure to halt or substantially reverse the negative effects of tobacco smoking, alcohol consumption, overweight and obesity, and under-vaccination remain causes for real concern.
In the European Region, people live on average more than one year longer when compared to five years ago. However, there is still over a decade of difference (11.5 years) between countries with the highest and lowest life expectancy.
Europeans’ sense of well-being is among the highest in the world, but variations from country to country are pronounced.
Good progress has been made in reducing deaths from all causes (all ages) since the beginning of the millennium, with about a 25% reduction in 15 years.
Overall, Europe is surpassing the target of reducing premature deaths from the four major noncommunicable diseases – cardiovascular diseases, cancer, diabetes mellitus and chronic respiratory diseases – by 1.5% annually until 2020. The latest data point to a 2% decline per year on average.
However, lifestyle factors affecting mortality from these causes remain a major concern, and may slow, or even reverse gains in life expectancy if left unchecked:
Tobacco smoking rates are the highest in the world, with one in three people aged 15 and above smoking.
While alcohol use is declining overall, adult consumption is still the highest in the world. Levels of consumption vary between countries, ranging from 1 to 15 litres per capita every year.
Over half of the population is overweight and trends for both overweight and obesity in adults are on an upward curve across most of Europe, with considerable variations between countries.
Child vaccination rates are improving in general across Europe, but recent outbreaks of measles and rubella in some countries are jeopardizing the ability of the Region to eliminate these diseases.
Deaths from external causes of injury or poisoning have declined steadily by about 12% over five years.