A Closer Look at the European Health Report

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Every three years, the World Health Organization Regional Office for Europe releases The European Health Report, mapping health trends and marking the progress made toward achieving the region’s health goals.

The recently released 2021 European Health Report provides insight into progress toward the sustainable development goals (SDGs), specifically SDG number 3 that focuses on ensuring healthy lives and promoting well-being at all ages. This year’s report also features a section about the COVID-19 pandemic’s effects on the health of European citizens.

The report highlights three core priorities:

  1. Moving toward universal health coverage. An important component of achieving the sustainable development goals is reducing persistent barriers to accessing health services. Gaps in care are still experienced by many across the region in specialized service areas such as maternal and child health, infectious diseases and non-communicable diseases.
  1. Protecting against health emergencies. The COVID-19 pandemic demonstrated the need for more clearly defined emergency response mechanisms at the national and regional levels. These capacities include detection, assessment, notification, reporting events and responding to public health risks and emergencies.
  1. Promoting health and well-being. Broad efforts to promote health and well-being are outlined within the health-related sustainable development goals. Among the efforts listed are addressing non-communicable diseases and their risk factors, reducing the incidence of infectious diseases, and supporting the research and development of vaccines and medications.

While progress toward achieving the sustainable development goals has been made, all of the targets have not been met. Unfortunately, the global pandemic slowed some country’s momentum, leaving their populations subject to ongoing health inequities and health accesses challenges.

A more focused effort will be necessary to make up deficits so that achieving the sustainable development goals by 2030 is still possible. Thankfully, regional leaders are committed to working together to achieve those targets.