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The European health report 2015. Targets and beyond – Reaching new frontiers in evidence

Progress towards the Health 2020 targets
Within only a few years of the development of the Health 2020 policy, increasing numbers of countries are adopting and using its principles and approaches to improve citizens’ health and well-being.

The WHO European Region is on track to achieve the Health 2020 target to reduce premature mortality from cardiovascular diseases, cancer, diabetes mellitus and chronic respiratory diseases by 1.5% annually until 2020. Most of the progress in the Region is the result of improvements in countries with the highest premature mortality.

Alcohol consumption, tobacco use and overweight and obesity remain major public health problems in the Region. Europe has the highest rates of alcohol and tobacco use in the world and WHO estimates show rises in the prevalence of overweight and obesity between 2010 and 2014 in almost all countries.

Despite high overall coverage for measles vaccination in the Region, immunity gaps in the population persist, resulting in ongoing endemic transmission and some countrywide outbreaks. The gaps between the highest and lowest reported values for the Health 2020 indicators linked to the social determinants of health – infant mortality, life expectancy, primary school enrolment and unemployment – have shrunk. Preliminary data suggest that this positive trend has continued since 2010, although absolute differences between countries remain large.

Out-of-pocket payments as a proportion of total expenditure on health at the regional level (24%) have not changed since 2010. In 2012, this proportion was below the 15% threshold critical for preventing catastrophic levels of health expenditure in only 12 of the 53 countries in the Region.