EU Closing the Gap on Health Inequities

Is the EU Closing the Gap on Health Inequities?

The World Health Organization and European Union (EU) DETERMINE Consortium has
acknowledged gaps in health equities within and between member countries. A variety of
efforts are underway to help close those gaps.
Discussion questions:
A brief comparison of the health status of the two EU countries you selected with that of
the U.S. Then, describe two efforts in those EU countries to reduce health inequities.
Explain what lessons can be learned from the EU efforts you selected that can be
implemented in the U.S. nationally or by individual states. Explain how the community you
live in might adapt these interventions. Expand on your insights utilizing the Learning
Resources.

Is the EU Closing the Gap on Health Inequities?

A comparison of the health status of Belgium and Germany – two EU member states –
with that of the United States reveals that in Germany, the life expectancy for women is 83
years and ranks 15 th worldwide, and that of men is 78 years and ranks 16 th . Rate of infant
mortality is 3.54 deaths for every 1,000 births and ranks 212 globally (NationMaster, 2014). In
Belgium, the life expectancy at birth for women is 83 years and ranks 16 th globally, and for men
is 77 years, and ranks 25 th worldwide. The rate of infant mortality is 4.33 deaths for every 1,000
live births (NationMaster, 2014). In USA, life expectancy for women is 81 years and ranks 33 rd
and for men is 76 years, ranking 30 th worldwide. Infant mortality rate in America is 6.06 per

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EU CLOSING GAP ON HEALTH INEQUITIES
1,000 live births, ranks 179 globally (NationMaster, 2014). As illustrated in the health status
statistics, Europeans in the selected EU countries have higher life expectancies than Americans
and infant mortality is higher in the United States than in Belgium and Germany.
The two efforts in both Belgium and Germany to reduce health inequities are as follows:
(i) the actions taken concerning healthcare access include the improvement of quality as well as
accessibility of healthcare, and the focus is on affordability (Commission of the European
Communities, 2007). Moreover, the governments of Germany and Belgium have taken actions to
ensure emergency medical aid for everyone, and they provide increased reimbursement to
vulnerable groups who include cancer patients and those with chronic illnesses. They also
undertake initiatives that target the decrease in price of drugs; maximum bill for costs of
healthcare; and improving proximity of healthcare services (Equity Action, 2013). Furthermore,
there is cross-sector policy plan aimed at fighting poverty and guarantee the right to health. The
plan encompasses 12 measures including measures to increase the use of the 3 rd party payer
system by the healthcare providers, and measures to increase hospital admission of poor people
(Wevers et al., 2007).
(ii) Actions taken concerning prevention and health promotion include providing
affordable, quality and durable housing for everyone, and stress management for persons living
in poverty. They also include providing preventive health checks at school, and promotion of
balanced and healthy nutrition in vulnerable groups and in the general population. There is also
focus on occupational diseases and industrial accidents and in combating drug and alcohol use in
working settings (Equity Action, 2013).

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EU CLOSING GAP ON HEALTH INEQUITIES
Lessons that Americans may learn from the EU efforts selected and that can be
implemented in the United States by individual states or nationally are as follows: first,
governments in the United States, be they state governments or the federal government, should
establish a policy plan aimed at reducing poverty and guarantee every person’s right to health.
This policy plan should include among others, measures to increase hospital admission for the
poor Americans. Secondly, to reduce inequities in health, state governments in the U.S should
provide increased reimbursement for groups that are vulnerable such as patients with chronic
sicknesses. State governments should promote a balanced and healthy nutrition. Thirdly, stress
management should be provided to poor people to reduce cases of suicide; preventive health
checks be provided in American schools; and the federal government should ensure the
availability of affordable, durable, and quality housing for all Americans. The federal
government should also develop policies intended to reduce the price of medicines. The
community that I live in might adapt these interventions by consuming more balanced and
healthy nutrition; seeking durable and quality housing; and the poor in the community would get
help to manage their stress. Community members would also be able to purchase medicines at
affordable prices.

References

Commission of the European Communities. (2007). Together for health: A strategic approach for
the EU 2008-2013 [White paper].
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EU CLOSING GAP ON HEALTH INEQUITIES
NationMaster. (2014). Health: Infant Mortality Rate – Countries Compared.
(Accessed October 9, 2014).
Wevers, S., Lehmann, F., Nurnberger, M., Reemann, H., Altgeld, T., Hommes, M., Luig, H., &
Mielk, A. (2007). Strategies for Action to Tackle Health Inequalities in Germany.
BGG, 50(4): 484-91

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