VulnerABLE Project: Health inequalities are unnecessary, avoidable, and unjust – Findings of literature review

Unmet needs in healthcare still very much exist across the European Union for people living in vulnerable and isolated situations. The VulnerABLE pilot project assessed their health challenges by analysing relevant literature, data, and policy documents. It found that although there has been an increase in health across the EU in recent years, this has not been experienced equally between and within Member States. Life expectancy, the prevalence of ill health, and the level of unmet needs vary across different population subgroups, according to the latest data. Read the full report here.

Key findings:

  • In 2014, 6.7% of Europeans reported having unmet healthcare needs, with the most common barrier being cost (reported by 2.4% of Europeans).
  • Data from the Survey of Health, Ageing and Retirement in Europe (SHARE) show that in older people socioeconomic factors such as a lower level of education and lower income increase the likelihood of older people experiencing limitations to their mobility, and the prevalence of eyesight, hearing and chewing problems.
  • Those living in rural areas are less likely than urban residents to seek the healthcare they need because of cost, distance, and/or a lack of health facilities and professionals. In some Member States, pharmacies, essential medicines as well as specialised services are more difficult to access. In Romania there were three times as many pharmacies reported in urban than rural areas, despite the fact that a large proportion of the population lives in rural areas.
  • Most prisoners have pre-existing vulnerabilities, such as substance abuse and mental health needs, which overcrowding and poor hygiene in prison may make worse.
  • Those with lower levels of education are more likely to have a lower life expectancy. Data from Bulgaria show that the average life expectancy, at age 25, of men educated to lower secondary level or below (ISCED 0-2) was 40.8 years in 2013, compared to 52 years for men with a tertiary education (ISCED 5-8). A similar gap was seen in women.
  • Long-term unemployment and inactivity is associated with a range of poor health outcomes, including premature ageing, poor mental health, negative health behaviours and worse self-reported health. When healthcare is reliant on in-work benefits or insurance coverage, un-employment is a major barrier to access.

Social Platf0rm is a partner of the VulnerABLE project.

Full article.