International comparisions of health prices and volumes

Cross-country variation in health expenditure may be the result of differences in the prices of goods and services or differences in the volume of care, or a mix of both. Separating health spending into volume and price measures helps policy makers better understand the drivers of cross-country variations, and helps them decide what policy responses should be put in place to address health spending trends. Such policies may differ if, for example, a country’s high health care spending is due to relatively high volume of goods and services consumed or to the relatively high price a country pays for those goods or services.

The OECD have recently published new findings on these international comparisons.

To download the document on International comparisons of health prices and volumes from the oecd.org website

Air pollution deaths in Europe

Each year, at least 1.4 million Europeans die prematurely due to polluted environments; this corresponds to at least 15% of Europe’s total deaths. Around half of these deaths are due to outdoor and indoor air pollution. Altogether, European citizens lose annually 50 million years of healthy life from environmental risks.

Environmental risk factors are responsible for around 26% of ischemic heart disease, 25% of strokes and 17% of cancers in Europe. Air pollution is the leading environmental killer, responsible for 620,000 deaths every year from outdoor (transport, industry, energy production) and indoor (solid fuel combustion for heating and cooking, poor ventilation, second-hand tobacco smoke) exposure.

For more information about the risks to public health of air pollution on the euro.who.int website

Healthier, fairer, safer: the global health journey 2007–2017

This independent report, commissioned by WHO and written by Sir Liam Donaldson, reflects on the trends, achievements and challenges in global health over the past decade. It discusses the role of WHO in dealing with such issues as the rise of noncommunicable diseases, leaps in life expectancy, and emerging threats like climate change and antimicrobial resistance.

The sections include:

  • Saving mothers and children
  • Microbes: old and new
  • The ascendancy of noncommunicable diseases
  • Healthy ageing

To download the full report ‘Healthier, fairer, safer: the global health journey 2007–2017′ from the who.int website

Harnessing big data for health

The latest edition of the Eurohealth Observer includes articles on:

  • connecting the dots: putting big data to work for health systems
  • big data for better outcomes: supporting health care system transformation in Europe
  • the Trump Administration launches health law changes into heavy seas
  • what does Brexit mean for health in the UK

To download the publication on Big data and health systems from the euro.who.int website

The Innov8 approach for reviewing national health programmes

The Innov8 technical handbook is a user-friendly resource as part of the Innov8 approach for reviewing national health programmes to leave no one behind. It gives detailed guidance and exercise sheets for each of the 8 steps of analysis that comprise the review process and includes background readings, country examples and analytical activities.

For more information and to download the handbook on the Innov8 approach for reviewing national health programes from the who.int website

The cost of a polluted environment: 1.7 million child deaths a year

More than 1 in 4 deaths of children under 5 years of age are attributable to unhealthy environments.

Every year, environmental risks – such as indoor and outdoor air pollution, second-hand smoke, unsafe water, lack of sanitation, and inadequate hygiene – take the lives of 1.7 million children under 5 years, according to the WHO.

The top 5 causes of death in children under 5 are:

  • respiratory infections, such as pneumonia, attributable to indoor and outdoor air pollution, and second-hand smoke (570,000 children a year)
  • diarrhoea, as a result of poor access to clean water, sanitation, and hygiene (361,000 children a year)
  • conditions, including prematurity, which could be prevented through access to clean water, sanitation, and hygiene in health facilities as well as reducing air pollution (270,000 children a year in their first month of life)
  • malaria that could be prevented through environmental actions, such as reducing breeding sites of mosquitoes or covering drinking-water storage (200,000 children a year)
  • unintentional injuries attributable to the environment, such as poisoning, falls, and drowning (200,000 children a year)

For more information on the causes of death for children under 5 from the who.int website

Government expenditure on health

At EU-level, ‘health’ expenditure remained the second largest item of general government expenditure after expenditure on ‘social protection’ in 2015. In the EU-28, total expenditure of general governments on ‘health’ amounted to 7.2% of GDP. ‘Hospital services’ accounted for 3.4 % of GDP, ‘outpatient services’ for 2.2 % of GDP and ‘medical products, appliances and equipment’ for 1.0 % of GDP.

For more statistics about expenditure on health services from the ec.europa.eu website

Cancer screening in the EU

In 2012 almost 1.3 million lives were lost to cancer in Europe alone. Nearly half of cancer deaths can be avoided with more preventive action to address and mitigate the risks. While we aim to reduce the incidence of cancer by tackling major life-style determinants, such as smoking, nutrition and physical activity, screening remains a very effective prevention tool. Regular and systematic examinations can detect the disease early, when it is more responsive to
less aggressive treatment. Followed by appropriate care, these examinations can significantly reduce cancer mortality and improve the quality of life of cancer patients.
In 2003, the Council of the EU had issued recommendations setting out principles of best practice in the early detection of cancer. The recommendations called on all EU countries to take common action to implement
national, population-based screening programmes for breast, cervical and colorectal cancer. A first report analysing the state of implementation followed in 2008 and showed that, despite progress being made, Member States still had fallen short of the target set for the minimum number of examinations by more than 50%.
The second report has now been published and allows the comparison of the national programmes by these  indicators and may eventually pave the way to define common benchmarks for cancer screening programmes in the EU.
To download the report on cancer screening in the EU from the ec.europa.eu website

Measles and rubella in Europe

Countries in the WHO European Region are continuing to eliminate measles and rubella both nationally and regionally. The European Regional Verification Commission for Measles and Rubella Elimination (RVC) reports that 37 of the 53 Member States in the Region (70%) had interrupted endemic measles transmission by the end of 2015 and 35 of them (66%) had also interrupted endemic rubella transmission. Of these countries, 27 sustained interruption for at least 36 months and are therefore considered to have eliminated one or both of the diseases. These conclusions indicate that measles is endemic in 4 fewer countries and rubella is endemic in 2 fewer countries than in the previous year. Progress is also reflected in a lower number of measles and rubella cases reported through routine surveillance in the Region in 2016 than in previous years.

For more information about European reduction in measles and rubella on the euro.who.int website

Obesity and the public purse

This is the first study to estimate the annual savings that overweight and obese people bring UK taxpayers by dying prematurely (in 2016 prices). Ignoring these savings leads to substantial overestimation of the true burden of elevated body mass index (BMI) to the taxpayer. The study’s estimates of the present value of pension, healthcare and other benefit payments avoided through early, BMI-caused deaths (net of foregone tax payments) is £3.6 billion per annum.

This report, from the Institute of Economic Affairs, analyses the cost of obesity to public services and estimates that the net cost is less than £2.5 billion a year or 0.3 per cent of government spending. The report argues that the economic burden of obesity has been exaggerated and that the health care costs of an ageing population should be the focus for public service efficiency savings.

To read the full report on the true costs of obesity on the dodsmonitoring.com website