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Environmental health inequalities in Europe: Assessment report


Recent debate on the social determinants of health has indicated that the unequal distribution of health and well-being in national populations is a major challenge for public health governance. This is equally true for environmental health conditions and for exposure to environmental risk, which varies strongly by a range of sociodemographic determinants and thus causes inequalities in exposure to – and potentially in disease resulting from – environmental conditions. Interventions tackling such environmental health inequalities need to be based on an assessment of their magnitude and on the identification of population groups that are most exposed or most vulnerable to environmental risks. However, data to quantify the environmental health inequality situation are not abundant, making comprehensive assessments difficult at both national and international levels. Following up on the commitments made by Member States at the Fifth Ministerial Conference on Environment and Health in Parma, Italy (2010), the WHO Regional Office for Europe has carried out a baseline assessment of the magnitude of environmental health inequality in the European Region based on a core set of 14 inequality indicators. The main findings of the assessment report indicate that socioeconomic and demographic inequalities in risk exposure are present in all countries and need to be tackled throughout the Region. However, the report also demonstrates that each country has a specific portfolio of inequalities, documenting the need for country-specific inequality assessments and tailored interventions on the national priorities.