Wednesday 12 December 2018

Warning for Ireland as life expectancy gains in some countries slow down

Cardiovascular deaths as well a rising levels of obesity and diabetes are partly to blame, according to the OECD’s report Health at a Glance: Europe 2018.(stock image) Photo: PA
Cardiovascular deaths as well a rising levels of obesity and diabetes are partly to blame, according to the OECD’s report Health at a Glance: Europe 2018.(stock image) Photo: PA

Eilish O’Regan

Ireland received a warning today about a slowdown in life expectancy gains in recent years in many European countries.

Cardiovascular deaths as well a rising levels of obesity and diabetes are partly to blame, according to the OECD’s report Health at a Glance: Europe 2018.

There has also been an increase in the number of deaths among elderly people due partly to bad flu seasons in recent years in some countries.

Life expectancy in Ireland increased by almost two and a half years between 2005 and 2016 and is now above the EU average.

The life expectancy for women is 83 years and 79.3 years for men.

However, the report warned of a slowdown in life expectancy gains in recent years in many European countries, including France, Germany and the UK.

The report said that greater efforts to promote mental health and improve early diagnosis and treatment of those with mental illness would improve the lives of millions of Europeans and contribute to stronger economic and employment conditions.

Mental health problems, such as depression, anxiety disorders and alcohol and drug use disorders, affect more than one in six people across the EU in any given year.

Besides the impact on people’s well-being, the report estimates the total costs of mental ill-health at over €600bn – or more than 4pc of GDP – across the 28 EU countries.

For Ireland the estimated cost of mental health is €8.3bn equivalent to 3.17pc of GDP.

A large part of these costs are due to lower employment rates and productivity of people with mental health.

“The heavy burdens of mental illness on individuals and society are not inevitable,” said OECD Secretary-General Angel Gurría.

“While many European countries have put in place policies and programmes to address mental illness, much more can be done to promote and better manage mental health.

"We look forward to continue working with the European Commission to measure the state of health in European economies and the specific challenges they confront to deliver better health policies for better lives.”

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