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Reduction of health inequalities – the prerequisite for good public health of the population

Back in 1998, in the document Verona Initiative the World Health Organization stated that achieving social and economic welfare requires investment in health. However, this should not be understood as a reckless increase of health care costs, which, in fact, does not ensure good health of the population. One of the most important prerequisites for good health is the reduction of health inequalities arising from social, economic and other reasons, which are avoidable.

Lithuania stands out from other European Union countries in terms of considerable health inequalities between rural and urban population and between groups of people with different educational, family status and economic status. For example, the standardized mortality rate of the rural population in 2004–2013 was approx. 22.4 per cent higher than the rate of the urban population, and in 2013 the  average life expectancy of the urban population was 2.7 years longer than that of the rural population. These differences are due to social and economic reasons and accessibility of health care services.

“It is expected that the results of the project “Development of the Model for Strengthening the Capacities to Identify and Reduce Health Inequalities” under Programme No. LT11 “Public Health Initiatives” of the Norwegian Financial Mechanism 2009-2014 will contribute to solving the issues of health inequalities,” Mindaugas Stankūnas, Professor at the Lithuanian University of Health Sciences, said.

The aforementioned project aims at achieving the following three goals:

1. To develop a unified system for monitoring health inequalities. The methodology for collecting relevant information in municipalities will be developed under the project.

2. To prepare the guidelines for reduction of health inequalities. The guidelines for target interventions for coherent reduction of the most relevant inequalities in health and health care will be developed.

3. To strengthen the competencies of the staff at municipal public health bureaus as well as the staff at national and municipal level institutions in identifying, assessing and reducing health inequalities. Under the project trainings will be organized for target groups to discuss the reasons for the health inequities, methods for monitoring and reduction thereof.

The Lithuanian University of Health Sciences, Vilnius University, Klaipėda University and the Institute of Hygiene collaborate in order to achieve the project goals. The project will also contribute to the implementation of the strategic goal of the Lithuanian Health Programme 2014–2025 Reduction of Health Inequalities.

It is planned to implement the project activities by January 2017.

More information about the project

Last updated: 12-06-2016