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Bulletin of the World Health Organization

Print version ISSN 0042-9686

Bull World Health Organ vol.80 n.10 Genebra Oct. 2002 

European report shows growing inequities in wealth and health

The European health report 2002 claims that "all the major determinants of health are linked to social and economic factors". The report was presented in Copenhagen on 16 September to the annual meeting of WHO's Regional Committee for Europe. Analysing data gathered during the last 10 years from the 51 Member States in the region, representing a population of 870 million, the report finds widening gaps between the haves and the have-nots.

Particularly striking are the figures for life expectancy and gross domestic product per head. On average, people in the newly independent states (NIS) of the former Soviet Union die 10 years younger than those in western European countries. Expectancy of years of healthy life is 56 years in the NIS, 70 years in western countries. In the central and eastern European countries and the NIS, those living on less than US$ 4 a day now constitute 46% of the population. In western Europe 10% of the total population are estimated to live below the poverty line (i.e. on an income of less than half the median).

More about the report and the European Regional Committee can be found at