Health improvement is a priority throughout Europe, as the world strives to reduce infectious disease, infection, and mortality rates. However, public health can also be impacted through safe roads and reducing alcohol and tobacco consumption.
At the conference it was noted that the economic recession did impact investments in disease prevention across the OECD countries, but important results were still achieved through the reduction of smoking and the encouraging of active lifestyles. Whilst this is a positive outcome, it was noted that there are still glaring inconsistencies in health outcomes between regions and countries.
A key challenge for Europe is the need to develop best practices in health improvement and disease prevention. This is made difficult by targeted advertising from the tobacco and alcohol industries, which often overwhelms the messaging from public health organisations that try to influence healthy lifestyle choices. A large sustained improvement in public health will require a coordinated effort at the national, regional and global level.
The conference also emphasised that, in many EU member states, there is a need for safe and healthy food. Best practices must be implemented to encourage governments to promote the agricultural sector not just as a profit centre, but to provide healthy, high-quality products.
The conference came to the conclusion that guaranteeing the public access to high-quality people-oriented healthcare will also improve health inequalities across the EU. However, far greater effort is required to solve health inequalities for the socially vulnerable and minority communities. The participants also agreed that greater solidarity is needed throughout Europe to reduce the financial obstacles to acquiring new medical technologies.