November 23, 2017 / 5:16 PM / 2 years ago

Shift prevention/treatment imbalance in health budgets, EU says

BRUSSELS, Nov 23 (Reuters) - EU states spend around 25 times more of their health budgets on treating diseases than on preventing them, and their citizens would benefit if that imbalance changed, the European Commission said on Thursday.

It was presenting recommendations from an EU report on the state of public health care systems in the 28 member states.

Vytenis Andriukaitis, the commissioner for health and food safety, told a news conference EU members were on average spending 3 percent of their budgets on health prevention and 80 percent on treating non-communicable diseases and disorders.

The Commission will not set EU laws on health policy, Andriukaitis said.

“(But) ...member states face similar challenges. It makes sense for the Commission to support the national authorities in tackling those challenges and in making the right policy and investment choices.”

Among the recommendations, the Commission suggested increasing the primary care system to limit hospital admissions and action to tackle alcohol abuse and stop people smoking.

It cited ageing populations, obesity, alcohol and tobacco-related disease and budgetary restraints as some of the main pressures on national health care systems.

In the individual country profiles, Latvia had the lowest life expectancy, which was six years below the EU average of 80 years, while Spaniards lived longest. Obesity was highest in Malta at 26 percent of the adult population.

The EU plans to discuss its findings with national health authorities.

The study was part of an initiative launched by the Commission with the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) and the European Observatory on Health Systems and Policies.

Reporting by Lily Cusack; editing by Philip Blenkinsop and John Stonestreet

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