European health is suffering from the financial crisis

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Financial crisis with negative health effects

The health of the European population is suffering from the effects of the financial crisis, according to one of the key messages in a current series by the renowned British science magazine "The Lancet". In seven editorials, the trade journal is devoted to different aspects of European health, including the gap between the health systems in Eastern and Western Europe, the quality of health care for children and the consequences of the aging population.

The article by a British research team led by Professor Martin McKee from the "London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine", which describes the effects of the financial crisis on the health of the EU population, received special attention. In the crisis-hit countries such as Spain, Portugal and Greece in particular, government spending in the health sector had been significantly reduced, which had an adverse effect on medical care. There is also a significant increase in suicides. According to the researchers, the number of suicides has increased across the European Union (EU) for the first time since 2007.

Financial crisis with health threats "The financial crisis in Europe poses great opportunities and threats to health," said the introductory sentence of the researchers in their current article. At first, however, little is to be seen of the opportunities, whereas the negative effects of the financial crisis on the health of the population in the particularly affected countries are already clearly apparent. The researchers said they "tracked the origins of the economic crisis in Europe and government responses, examined the impact on health systems and examined the effects of previous economic crises on health to predict the likely impact on the present." They also compared theirs Forecasts "with the evidence available on the health impact of the crisis."

Health in Greece particularly badly affected by the financial crisis The British researchers conclude that the health of Greeks was particularly badly affected by the financial crisis. According to the National Ministry of Health, the number of suicides in Greece in the first five months of 2011 increased by around 40 percent compared to the same period in the previous year. Politicians have also reduced the funds made available to public hospitals by more than a third. There is a lack of medication as well as staff. "Outbreaks of infectious diseases are becoming more common and budget cuts have restricted access to healthcare," the scientists said. In the case of HIV infections in particular, the researchers recorded a worrying increase in the wake of the financial crisis. All that is encouraging are the declining numbers of road fatalities and the lower alcohol and tobacco consumption. Apparently, many simply lack the money for cars, tobacco and alcohol.

Crisis management with a significant effect on health According to the authors, the individual crisis countries were affected by the financial crisis to a very different degree. In Iceland, for example, the crisis had hardly any adverse effects on the health of the population. The British researchers suspect a connection here with the different ways of coping with the crisis that have been followed in Iceland and countries such as Portugal, Spain or Greece. Iceland or the population of Iceland had decided in a referendum against the proposed drastic austerity measures. All major Icelandic banks were nationalized in 2008. In fact, the “interplay of austerity measures and weak social protection” in the context of economic shocks is apparently crucial for the health and social consequences of the financial crisis in Europe, Professor McKee and colleagues write.

Missing voice for health "Political decisions about how to respond to economic crises can have pronounced and unintentional effects on public health, but public voices for health remained largely silent during the economic crisis," the researchers concluded. There is also an underlying criticism of the behavior of the EU Commission and the government in the individual EU states. Accordingly, insufficient attention has been drawn to the negative consequences of the forced savings efforts in the crisis countries on the health of the population. (fp)

Also read about the financial crisis:
Financial crisis hits women harder
The financial crisis makes Greek sick

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