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Reducing health inequalities

Socioeconomic disadvantage is strongly associated with indicators of ill health in all EU MS with available data. These also translate into a health disadvantage of socioeconomically marginalised regions within the European Union (EU).
Action is not only about safeguarding human rights, it also has a strong economic rationale and extends to basics such as safe water and adequate sanitation. Worse health among those with lower socioeconomic status leads to labor productivity losses, increased demands for health care, & higher uptake of social security benefits. A recent European study estimated that health inequalities-related losses to labor productivity amount to €141 billion per year in the EU. If health is valued in its own right, health inequalities-related losses amount to a staggering €1 trillion per year (9.4% of GDP) (Mackenbach, Meerding & Kunst, 2007).

Structural Funds (SF) offer a window of opportunity to secure funding for or affect the impacts of large-scale actions. To be effective, action plans need to be evidence-based if available and include social innovations where evidence is limited.

Despite the available resources, as yet, there is no clear method for drawing up evidence-based action plans. This requires at least: (1) a case-by-case needs assessment (2) availability of a general portfolio of actions known to be effective in addressing available entry-points (3) a case-by-case analysis of the potential impact of these actions on population health & on economic performance.

The objective of the HealthEquity-2020 project, which is managed by Health ClusterNet is to assist Member States/regions to develop evidence-based action plans on reducing health inequalities, which also informs the use of Structural Funds (SF) in the next programming period.

By targeting policy-makers and practitioners who make and shape policies and implement actions, the project seeks to both (i) explore potential action areas & (ii) make the case (including economic evidence) for investments to reduce inequalities through regional actions within & beyond the health sector.

For news and recources see our project website: www.healthequity2020.eu

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