menu ☰
menu ˟

Population health and status of epidemiology in Western European, Balkan and Baltic countries

23 Feb 2015

Background: This article is part of a series commissioned by the International Epidemiological Association, aimed at describing population health and epidemiological resources in the six World Health Organization (WHO) regions. It covers 32 of the 53 WHO European countries, namely the Western European countries, the Balkan countries and the Baltic countries.

Methods: The burdens of mortality and morbidity and the patterns of risk factors and inequalities have been reviewed in order to identify health priorities and challenges. Literature and internet searches were conducted to stock-take epidemiological teaching, research activities, funding and scientific productivity.

Findings: These countries have among the highest life expectancies worldwide. However, within- and between-country inequalities persist, which are largely due to inequalities in distribution of main health determinants. There is a long tradition of epidemiological research and teaching in most countries, in particular in the Western European countries. Cross-national networks and collaborations are increasing through the support of the European Union which fosters procedures to standardize educational systems across Europe and provides funding for epidemiological research through framework programmes. The number of Medline-indexed epidemiological research publications per year led by Western European countries has been increasing. The countries accounts for nearly a third of the global epidemiological publication.

Conclusions: Although population health has improved considerably overall, persistent within- and between-country inequalities continue to challenge national and European health institutions. More research, policy and action on the social determinants of health are required in the region. Epidemiological training, research and workforce in the Baltic and Balkan countries should be strengthened. European epidemiologists can play pivotal roles and must influence legislation concerning production and access to high-quality data.

Click here to view the full article which appeared in International Journal of Epidemiology