Press release ***For immediate release***

9 December 2010, Brussels

Launch of the European Charter for Health Equity

Together for more equity in health – Launch of the Charter for Health Equity.

Although wealth in Europe has increased in the last decade, its distribution has proven to become increasingly unequal and 80 million European citizens – that is about 16% of the population of the European Union - live in poverty, including one child out of five being born and growing up in economic and social deprivation.

The fact is that there are dramatic differences in the health status of people living in Europe, between and within countries - differences closely linked with socio-economic status: in general, the lower the socioeconomic position, the worse the health status. Poverty, social exclusion and discrimination are key factors in explaining poorer levels of health between groups and countries in Europe.

What people eat, whether they drink or smoke is determined by their social condition. In other words, being healthy (or not) is not an individual choice but primarily a result of the conditions in which people are born, grow up, live, work and age. It is not an exaggeration to state that the epidemic of non-communicable diseases now emerging will primarily affect people with a more deprived socio-economic background.

Although the issue of Health Inequalities is currently on the agenda of the European Commission, the European Parliament, the Belgian and Spanish Presidencies and the World Health Organization, increasing economic and political pressures put even more burden on socially deprived, most vulnerable and under-served population groups. All the health gains achieved in the recent decennia are thus at risk.

In this light, and to contribute to the European Year for Combating Poverty and Social Exclusion, the European Public Health Alliance (EPHA) has organised an event for all those for whom health equity is at stake and who can mitigate the impact of poverty on health within their area of expertise.

As the main drivers of Health Inequalities lie outside the health sector, and as most of the social, agricultural or environmental actors are not yet fully engaged, EPHA is launching the European Charter for Health Equity - an inspirational and engaging document calling on civil society to speed up and collaborate in multi-sectorial actions on Health Inequalities.”, said Archie Turnbull, the President of EPHA. “The Charter will be then open for signature by individuals, organisations and institutions to commit themselves to transforming our shared values into actions for health equity. Our objective is to show that Health Inequalities are everybody’s business – and to support the work currently under preparation by the European Parliament by offering a space for debate from a wide range of stakeholders.”, he added.

The event takes place on Thursday evening of the 9th December 2010 (17:00 – 19:30pm) in Members Salon in the European Parliament in Brussels.

EPHA will be joined by civil society, the European Commission, WHO European Region, and by the Members of the European Parliament – most notably by Elena Oana Antonescu MEP (Romania, EPP), Nessa Childers MEP (Ireland, S&D), Alojz Peterle MEP (Slovenia, EPP) and Daciana Octavia Sarbu MEP (Romania, S&D) who will co-host the meeting.

For more information, please visit the EPHA website:, or contact Ms Dorota Sienkiewicz, EPHA Policy and Advocacy Officer for Health Inequalities and Policy Coherence at


EPHA is the European Platform bringing together public health organisations representing health professionals, patients groups, health promotion and disease specific NGOs, academic groupings and other health associations.

Visit:, read the Charter and sign it by filling in a signature form online here. Thank you!

More information on health inequalities can be found in our briefing here

Last modified on May 22 2012.