The gap between the longest and shortest life expectancy found in EU-27 decreased by 17% for men between 2007 and 2011 and 4% for women between 2006 and 2011. The gap in infant mortality between the EU countries with the highest and the lowest rates went down from 15.2 to 7.3 per1000 live births between 2001 and 2011. Average infant mortality in the EU also fell during this period - from 5.7 to 3.9 per 1000 live births. The report points to some positive developments in implementing the EU strategy on health inequalities, 'Solidarity in Health', while concluding that more action is needed at local, national and EU levels.
European Health Commissioner, Tonio Borg, said: "Inequalities in health in terms of life expectancy and in particular in infant mortality have been significantly reduced in the European Union in the past few years. This is encouraging. However, our commitment must be unwavering in order to address the continued gaps in health between social groups and between regions and Member States, as shown in this report. Action to bridge health inequalities across Europe must remain a priority at all levels."
The average number of healthy life years for females in the EU in 2011 was estimated to be 62.2 years — a slight difference compared with men. There was a difference of 18.4 years between the EU Member States with the lowest (Slovakia, 52.3 years) and highest (Malta, 70.7 years) values for female healthy life years in 2011, slightly higher than in 2007 when the gap was 19.8 years
Malta is the only EU member state whose infant mortality rate has increased (from 3.8% in 2001 to 6.3% in 2011). However, Malta is still one of the EU member states with a low death rate.
Malta has a low percentage of the population with severe material deprivation with a rate of 6.3%. This is below the EU27 average of 8.8%. However, Maltese children are among the most obese in the EU and also among those with the lowest rate of ‘No Binge Drinking’.
On a positive note, the rate in Malta for self-reported unmet needs for medical examination for reasons of barriers of access is among the lowest in the EU.
The report examines various factors causing health inequalities and finds that social inequalities in health are due to a disparity in the conditions of daily life and drivers such as income, unemployment levels and levels of education. The review found many examples of associations between risk factors for health, including tobacco use and obesity, and socioeconomic circumstances.