Social inequalities

Evidence shows that the majority of diseases and health inequalities are caused by social determinants, including health determinants.

Social determinants of health include the circumstances in which a person is born, grows, lives, works and grows old. These circumstances will influence the chances of an individual being healthy, their risk of disease and life expectancy. Social inequalities in health are undue and avoidable differences in health status between social groups, resulting from the unequal distribution of social determinants.

In Europe, some countries have good health conditions, while others have great health inequalities.

Throughout the years, the quality of life of populations has increased, with more cohesive, educated and richer societies with better health services reflecting on remarkable improvements in health status.

However, not all countries have experienced these social, economic and health developments. Although the social and economic circumstances have improved in all countries, some differences remain in terms of health. More, even the most developed countries in Europe experience quality of life inequalities and decreased social mobility and cohesion. These factors may very well be the foundation of the increase of health inequalities.

The economic crisis of 2008 – deeper and longer than anticipated – has exacerbated these social and economic inequalities within and between countries.

In summary, this situation requires a definite action to prioritize health improvement and the reduction of health inequalities, as there is a basic human right at risk.