EU report on avoidable deaths in 2013 – differences by country

One death out of three in the EU could have been avoided in the light of current medical knowledge and technology. 

Eurostat, the statistics office of the European Union, published a report today (24 May) on avoidable deaths in the member states.

According to the report, 1.7 million persons aged less than 75 died in 2013. Among them, around 577 500 deaths (or 33.7% of total deaths) could be considered as premature, as they could have been avoided in the light of medical knowledge and technology.

Heart attacks (184 800 deaths) and strokes (almost 94 000 deaths) accounted together for almost half (48%) of these total avoidable causes of death of people aged less than 75. 

The concept of avoidable mortality is based on the idea that certain deaths (for specific age groups and from specific diseases) could be 'avoided' – meaning they would not have occurred at this stage – if there had been timely and effective health care in place. 

Eurostat writes that the indicator on avoidable mortality is aimed to be used in a global context of health system performance assessments.

While the indicator is not meant to be a definite or unique measurement of the quality of health care in the Member States, it provides some indication of the quality and performance of healthcare policies in a country.

The indicator varies by country, from 23.8 % in France to 49.4 % in Romania. In Belgium the rate was 27.5 %. Almost all new EU member states since 2004 were above the EU average of 33.7 %. Sweden, United Kingdom, Ireland and Greece were also slightly above the average.

The Brussels Times (Source: Eurostat)

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