Health protection in times of economic crisis: Challenges and opportunities for Europe
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STOA, the European Parliament’s technology assessment body, and the European Observatory on Health Systems and Policies recently organised a workshop on the impacts of the economic crisis on European health systems. Evidence of the impact of the recent financial crisis on health outcomes is only just beginning to emerge. Data suggests that this latest recession has led to more frequent poor health status, rising incidence of some communicable diseases, and higher suicide rates. Further, available data are likely to underestimate the broader mental health crisis linked to increased rates of stress, anxiety, and depression among the economically vulnerable. Not only does recession affect factors that determine health, but it also affects the financial capacity to respond. Many European governments have reduced public expenditure on health services during the financial crisis, while introducing or increasing user charges. The recession has driven structural reforms, and has affected the priority given to public policies that could be used to help protect population health. The current economic climate, while challenging, presents an opportunity for reforming and restructuring health promotion actions and taking a long-term perspective.
Keywordsrecession austerity public health prevention health policy
We are grateful to Christian Felice, Laura Rolo Perez, and Elleke Arnold, from the STOA Secretariat, European Parliament, Brussels, Belgium, for assisting in the editing of this manuscript.
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