WHO reports persistent environment and health inequalities in Europe

18 June 2019

Article: 53/2406

A new World Health Organization (WHO) report, launched on 12 June 2019 at the WHO High-level Conference on Health Equity in Ljubljana, Slovenia, shows that intra-country inequalities in environmental exposure persist, or in some cases, may have increased.

Environmental risk factors account for at least 15% of mortality in the region, equivalent to about 1.4 million avoidable deaths per year. Significant improvement in environmental conditions has been made in most countries, but disadvantaged population subgroups can have five times higher exposure levels to environmental risk factors than advantaged subgroups.

The reduction of many environmental health risks shows that environmental interventions are effective in preventing health impacts, but these interventions often fail to protect vulnerable populations. The report documents 19 inequality indicators on urban, housing and working conditions, basic services and injuries. This evidence confirms that socially disadvantaged population subgroups are the most affected by environmental hazards, causing avoidable health effects and contributing to health inequalities.

Source: WHO Europe, 12 June 2019