All Europeans, regardless of their socio-economic status, are entitled to proper healthcare. This focus on health inequalities includes oral health which cannot be neglected as it is connected to every aspect of our lives.
Policymakers, health professionals, academics and representatives of healthcare organisations had a chance to discuss this at the CED event: Health Inequalities – Oral Health for All, at the European Parliament on 19 June 2017, hosted by MEP Nessa Childers.
Problems with oral health can affect our ability to taste, chew and eat, as well as to smile and speak, and impact on everything from our general health to our capacity to communicate and function in our personal and professional roles.
How do health inequalities affect different areas of health?
Dental expenditures in the EU amounted to an incredible €92bn in 2015. In comparison with other diseases, dental diseases end up on a striking third place in the cost ranking of diseases in terms of private and public expenditure, only surpassed by cardiovascular diseases and diabetes.
MEP Nessa Childers, member of the European Parliament’s Committee on Environment, Public Health and Food Safety, said: “Access to oral healthcare services is a significant issue among vulnerable and low income groups, especially when it comes to prevention; very often, individuals from vulnerable groups only access oral healthcare due to emergencies.”
It is essential that the most vulnerable populations receive adequate support in accessing care. The participants heard about great initiatives in the Netherlands and in Spain that provide vulnerable populations, including:
- Homeless persons;
- Children from disadvantaged backgrounds; and
- Migrants with proper oral health care.
CED President Marco Landi concluded that “it is evident that oral health inequalities is a very complex topic that needs to be tackled by a multi-facetted approach and by a variety of stakeholders together.”
The CED hopes that all stakeholders will work together ever more closely in the future to tackle these health inequalities and help provide the best care for all.