Spending on preventive care includes any health expenditure that aims to reduce the number or the severity of injuries and diseases, their consequences and complications. Eurostat reports that in 2018 the European Union (EU) countries only invested an average of 2.8%, out of the total EU health expenditure, on preventive care. This accounted for both public and private expenditure.
Highest shares were recorded by Italy (4.4%) and Finland (4%). Comparatively lowest shares were reported by Slovakia (0.8%), Greece, Cyprus and Malta (all 1.3%) as well as Romania (1.4%).
In relation to population size highest preventive care expenditure was among Sweden (€165 per person), Finland (€152), Germany (€148) and the Netherlands (€146), while it was lowest in Romania and Slovakia (both only €8 per inhabitant).
The data highlights the lack of spending on prevention in the EU and the vast health inequities persisting across the region. As Movendi International reported previously, the World Health Organization’s European Health Equity Status Report released in 2019 found that progress on health equity is stalled across the region. The report highlights that alcohol is an obstacle to health equity:
- Alcohol use accounted for over 1 million deaths in Europe in 2016.
- In eastern Europe, alcohol use accounts for almost a quarter of the disease burden.
- People with lower incomes consume less alcohol and are more likely to abstain from alcohol; however, they experience higher levels of alcohol-related harm than wealthier groups with the same level of consumption.
- People with lower incomes are also more likely to have higher levels of harmful and hazardous alcohol use, to binge on alcohol and to live in closer proximity to alcohol outlets, compared to those who are financially better off and living in areas that are better resourced.
Eurostat reported that in 2016, in the EU, there were 1.2 million premature deaths. Out of which, 741,000 could have been avoided through effective public health and primary prevention interventions, and 422,000 treatable deaths through timely and effective health care interventions.
Alcohol is among the top preventable deaths in the EU with 7% (79,000 people) of the population dying due to alcohol related diseases.
Increased prioritization of and investment in preventive healthcare such as for alcohol prevention can save many European lives lost prematurely.