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Europe paying a heavy price for chronic diseases, finds new OECD-European Commission report
  1. Richard Price
  1. Correspondence to Richard Price, Policy and Advocacy, European Association of Hospital Pharmacy, Brussels, Belgium; richard.price{at}

Statistics from

A new joint report from the European Commission and the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) estimates that the premature deaths of 550 000 working-age people across European Union countries from chronic diseases, including heart attacks, strokes, diabetes and cancer, cost EU economies EUR 115 billion or 0.8% of GDP annually. This figure does not include the additional loss in terms of lower employment rates and productivity of people living with chronic health problems.

The report, entitled ‘Health at a Glance’, also explains that while earlier diagnosis and better treatments have substantially increased the share of people surviving these diseases, many countries – including the United Kingdom, Ireland and especially some Central and Eastern European countries – lag behind in terms of cancer survival rates.

‘Many more lives could be saved if standards of care are raised to the best level across EU countries’, said OECD Secretary-General Angel Gurría, launching the report in Brussels with European Commissioner for Health and Food Safety Vytenis Andriukaitis. ‘More needs to be done to reduce inequalities in access and quality of care, and European health systems must become more efficient in channelling resources where they have the most impact on health outcomes, including on prevention’ .

Health at a Glance: Europe 2016 shows slow growth in health spending in many EU countries in 2015, collectively accounting for 9.9% of EU GDP. Germany, Sweden and France each spent around 11% of GDP on health care, closely followed by the Netherlands and Denmark (at 10.8% and 10.6%, respectively). Countries in the Eastern part of the EU tend to spend much less, with shares ranging from 5% to 6% of GDP.

In all countries, the health spending share of GDP is projected to increase in the coming years due mainly to population ageing and the diffusion …

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  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Provenance and peer review Commissioned; internally peer reviewed.

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