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access to healthcare and long-term care
ACCESS TO HEALTHCARE AND LONG-TERM CARE
Equal for women and men?
European Commission
This publication is supported under the European Community programme for employment and social
solidarity (2007–13) (Progress). This programme is managed by the Directorate-General for Employment,
Social Affairs and Equal Opportunities of the European Commission. It was established to financially
support the implementation of the objectives of the European Union in the employment and social
affairs area, as set out in the social agenda, and thereby contribute to the achievement of the Lisbon
strategy goals in these fields.
The seven-year programme targets all stakeholders who can help shape the development of appropriate
and effective employment and social legislation and policies, across the EU-27, EFTA–EEA and EU
candidate and pre-candidate countries.
The mission of Progress is to strengthen the EU contribution in support of Member States’ commitments
and efforts to create more and better jobs and to build a more cohesive society. To that effect, progress
will be instrumental in:
— providing analysis and policy advice on Progress policy areas;
— monitoring and reporting on the implementation of EU legislation and policies in Progress
policy areas;
— promoting policy transfer, learning and support among Member States on EU objectives
and priorities; and
— relaying the views of the stakeholders and society at large.
For more information see:
http://ec.europa.eu/progress
ACCESS TO HEALTHCARE
AND LONG-TERM CARE:
Equal for women and men?
Final Synthesis Report
EGGSI coordinating team
Chiara Crepaldi, Manuela Samek Lodovici, Marcella Corsi
In collaboration with:
Stefano Capri, Sandra Naaf, Sergio Pasquinelli
Expert Group on Gender Equality and Social Inclusion,
Health and Long-Term Care Issues (EGGSI)
(* indicates non-EU countries)
Bettina Haidinger (Austria)
Nathalie Wuiame (Belgium)
Maria Slaveva Prohaska (Bulgaria)
Susana Pavlou (Cyprus)
Alena Křížková (Czech Republic)
Bent Greve (Denmark)
Reelika Leetmaa and Marre Karu (Estonia)
Anita Haataja (Finland)
Anne Eydoux (France)
Alexandra Scheele and Julia Lepperhoff (Germany)
Maria Stratigaki (Greece)
Beáta Nagy (Hungary)
Sigurbjörg Sigurgeirsdóttir (Iceland)*
James Wickham (Ireland)
Flavia Pesce (Italy)
Ilze Trapenciere (Latvia)
Ulrike Papouschek (Liechtenstein)*
Ruta Braziene (Lithuania)
Frances Camillieri-Cassar (Malta)
Hugo Swinnen (Netherlands)
Ira Malmberg-Heimonen (Norway)*
Irena Topinska (Poland)
Teresa Maria Sarmento Pereira (Portugal)
Marieta Radu (Romania)
Eva Havelková (Slovakia)
Masa Filipović (Slovenia)
Elvira González Gago (Spain)
Anita Nyberg (Sweden)
Claire Annesley (United Kingdom)
European Commission
Directorate-General for Employment, Social Affairs and Equal Opportunities
Unit G.1
Manuscript completed in October 2009
This report was financed by and prepared for the use of the European Commission, Directorate-General for Employment, Social Affairs and Equal
Opportunities in the framework of a contract managed by the Istituto per la Ricerca Sociale and Fondazione Giacomo Brodolini. It does not necessarily
reflect the opinion or position of the European Commission, Directorate-General for Employment, Social Affairs and Equal Opportunities.
IRS- Istituto per la Ricerca Sociale Via XX Settembre 24 20123 Milan MI
ITALY
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[email protected] www.irs-online.it Fondazione Brodolini
Viale di Villa Massimo 21
00161 Rome RM
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[email protected]
http://www.fondazionebrodolini.it/
Cover photo: © 123RF
For any use or reproduction of photos which are not under European Communities copyright,
permission must be sought directly from the copyright holder(s).
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Freephone number (*):
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to 00 800 numbers or these calls may be billed.
More information on the European Union is available on the Internet (http://europa.eu).
Cataloguing data as well as an abstract can be found at the end of this publication.
Luxembourg: Publications Office of the European Union, 2009
ISBN 978-92-79-14854-5
doi:10.2767/93670
© European Union, 2010
Reproduction is authorised provided the source is acknowledged.
Printed in Belgium
Printed on white chlorine-free paper
Contents
Executive summary...................................................................................................... 5
Zusammenfassung.....................................................................................................11
Résumé...........................................................................................................................17
Introduction..................................................................................................................23
1.Main characteristics and recent trends in the health status
of women and men ........................................................................................... 25
1.1.
1.2.
1.3.
1.4.
1.5.
2.
Gender differences in access to healthcare ..........................................41
2.1.
2.2.
3.
Gender differences in life expectancy and healthy life years..............................................................25
Self-perceived health and disability.............................................................................................................25
Gender differences in health risks and death by typology of diseases ..........................................28
Gender differences in mortality rates..........................................................................................................32
The impact of income and social inequalities on gender differences in health status.............. 35
Existing service provisions: an overview of gender differences . ......................................................41
2.1.1. Health promotion ......................................................................................................................................................... 43
2.1.2. Health prevention . ....................................................................................................................................................... 50
2.1.3. General treatment ........................................................................................................................................................ 67
2.1.4. Gender mainstreaming in healthcare: recent trends ............................................................................. 84
Barriers to accessing service provisions......................................................................................................87
2.2.1. Financial barriers: insurance coverage and individual costs .............................................................. 89
2.2.2. Cultural barriers ............................................................................................................................................................100
2.2.3. Geographical and physical barriers .................................................................................................................106
Gender differences in access to long-term care (LTC) . .................. 111
3.1.
3.2.
3.3.
3.4.
3.5.
Overview of existing LTC service provisions . .........................................................................................111
Overview of existing service provisions for LTC from a gender perspective...............................115
Gender barriers to access LTC.......................................................................................................................118
3.3.1. Gender and financial barriers ..............................................................................................................................118
3.3.2. Gender and geographical barriers ...................................................................................................................119
3.3.3. Gender and bureaucratic and administrative barriers .........................................................................120
3.3.4. Gender and cultural barriers ................................................................................................................................120
Programmes aimed at overcoming barriers to LTC...............................................................................122
Overall conclusions about gender barriers to access LTC...................................................................124
4.
Conclusions.................................................................................................... 125
5.
Annex – Statistical tables........................................................................... 129
References................................................................................................................... 133
3
Executive summary
While healthcare systems have contributed to
significant improvements in health in Europe, access to
healthcare remains uneven across countries and social
groups, according to socioeconomic status, place of
residence, ethnic group, and gender.
Gender plays a specific role both in the incidence and
prevalence of specific pathologies and also in their
treatment and impact in terms of well-being and
recovery. This is due to the interrelations between sexrelated biological differences and socioeconomic and
cultural factors which affect the behaviour of women
and men and their access to services.
This comparative report presents the main differences
in the health status of women and men in European
countries and examines how healthcare and long-term
care systems respond to the specific needs of women
and men in ensuring equal access. It considers the
main financial, cultural and physical barriers to access
and provides good practice examples of healthcare
promotion, prevention and general treatment
programmes, as well as of long-term care.
The information in this report is mainly provided by
the national experts of the EGGSI network of experts in
gender equality, social inclusion, healthcare and longterm care and covers 30 European countries (EU-27 and
EEA/EFTA) (1). Available comparative statistical data from
Eurostat and OECD sources have also been considered.
Gender differences in health status
Gender differences in health status and health needs
are largely explained by biological and genetic factors,
as well as by differences in social norms and health
behaviour.
On the one hand, women and men are susceptible
to sex-specific diseases related to their reproductive
health, such as breast cancer and cancer of the
cervix for women and cancer of the prostate for men.
On the other hand, women and men also present
different symptoms and consequences of common
(1)
EGGSI is the European Commission’s network of 30 national
experts (EU and EEA countries) in the fields of gender equality and
social inclusion, health and long-term care issues. The network
is coordinated by the Istituto Ricerca Sociale and Fondazione
Giacomo Brodolini, and undertakes an annual programme of
policy-oriented research and reports to the Directorate-General
for Employment, Social Affairs and Equal Opportunities.
diseases, such as for cardiovascular and many sexually
transmitted diseases.
Besides biological factors, social norms also affect the
health status of women and men differently: women
are less likely to engage in risky health behaviour and
consequently face fewer of the related illnesses and
disabilities than men. However, they are more likely
than men to present ‘invisible’ illnesses and disabilities
which are often not adequately recognised by the
healthcare system. Examples include depression,
eating disorders, disabilities related to home accidents
and sexual violence, as well as diseases and disabilities
related to old age. Women, especially very young
women, are more vulnerable to sexually transmitted
diseases compared to men, and the consequences
are more serious for them. Sexual abuse and domestic
violence particularly affect women and girls in all
countries and in all social classes.
The comparison of the population’s health status in
European countries also shows that eastern European
countries tend to present worse health conditions for
women and men than western countries.
Overall, it can be noted that women are more aware of
their health status and are greater users of healthcare
services then men. There are several reasons for this,
such as their reproductive role, their role as caregivers
for dependants (children, the elderly, the disabled),
their higher share among the older population and also
gender stereotypes, since men usually do not consider
it normal to complain about their health and to visit
physicians.
Gender differences in healthcare
provisions
Little is known about gender differences in accessing
healthcare and long-term care, and if and how
healthcare and long-term care systems take these into
account in service delivery. For example, while it has
been suggested that women are more likely than men
to engage in health-seeking behaviour and thus to
practise health prevention and promotion, there also
seems to be evidence that especially poor women (2)
may have more difficulties accessing healthcare
services than men.
(2)
European Institute of Women’s Health Report, Gender
Equity Conference, Conference of September 2000. http://www.eurohealth.ie/gender/index.htm
5
ACCESS TO HEALTHCARE AND LONG-TERM CARE: Equal for women and men?
In some European countries (like Austria, Bulgaria,
Germany, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Norway, Spain, the
Netherlands, the UK, Slovenia), there is increasing
awareness regarding the need to acknowledge
gender differences in access to healthcare among
governmental institutions, universities, and especially
NGOs, which have traditionally been very active
in providing specialist services to women, ethnic
minorities and other disadvantaged groups. In these
countries, gender-sensitive strategies have recently
been introduced within healthcare and medical
research: resource-centres and research institutes
with special knowledge regarding women and health
have been created, observatories on women’s health
have been set up to support the development of sexdisaggregated data and gendered medical research. In
addition, these countries have implemented specific
training projects aimed at general practitioners and
healthcare providers, as well as pilot programmes
for the treatment of disadvantaged women, such as
homeless women, immigrant women, disabled women
and single mothers.
The comparative analysis presented in this report
has, however, shown that in most countries, besides
reproductive care, there are still few gendered
healthcare strategies and services addressing the
specificities of gender-related behaviours and diseases
in a more structured way.
Health promotion strategies appear to be largely
gender neutral except for reproductive health. The
promotion of breastfeeding is the most widespread
promotion programme across Europe. It is supported
by common guidelines and accompanied in many
countries by more general programmes supporting
mothers and their newborn babies. Also, programmes
promoting healthy behaviour addressed to adults or
adolescents are often gender oriented, being either
targeted at women or men. The report presents
programmes aiming at reducing the consumption of
alcohol and smoking and promoting diet and physical
activity, programmes promoting mental health and
occupational health, health-promotion programmes
and campaigns specifically targeted at more vulnerable
groups. In those countries where national health
promotion activities are less developed, NGOs usually
have a relevant role as substitutes for public action and
are a stimulus in raising awareness of certain issues.
Screening programmes are important preventive
measures, since many diseases can be avoided through
early detection. The EGGSI national reports have
evidenced that gendered prevention programmes
are mainly targeted at women. The most important
and widespread gendered prevention programme
implemented in Europe is cancer screening. This is
related to a Council recommendation which invites
6
Member States to take common action to implement
national cancer screening programmes with a
population-based approach and with appropriate
quality assurance at all levels. Although much progress
has been made, more is still required to ensure that
programmes are available in all Member States.
Across Europe, many prevention programmes address
maternity: prenatal tests, support for the mothers with
newborn children and family development, support for
groups of children and mothers with special needs. Other
widespread prevention programmes across Europe
concern sexual and reproductive health. The health
sector can also play a vital role in preventing domestic
violence against women, by helping to identify abuse
early, providing victims with the necessary treatment,
and referring women to appropriate care. A general
lack of attention among the population and awareness
among health professionals has been described in some
EGGSI national reports, together with some examples
of good practice of support services for victims.
On the other hand, few programmes presented in
the EGGSI national reports aimed at children and
adolescents are gender sensitive. The most widespread
programme across Europe (even if there are differences
in access) and targeted at young girls is the Human
Papilloma Virus (HPV) vaccination programme.
Another area where young girls are the main targets of
preventive programmes is education regarding healthy
sexual behaviour and abortion prevention. Abortion in
adolescence is still a problem in Europe even though a
clear trend of reduction is detectable all over Europe.
Although gender-specific health-related risk behaviour
is starting to be documented and knowledge about
the necessity to provide gender-specific health
treatment is increasingly diffused, gender differences
in most healthcare treatments are often neglected.
The exceptions are reproductive care (basic service
provision for pregnant women and childbirth) and the
treatment of specifically female diseases, such as, for
example, breast and cervical cancer.
Age, income, education and residency are important
determinants of access to healthcare treatment
for women and men. For similar levels of health
needs, individuals with lower income and education
are more likely to use primary healthcare more
intensively, whereas specialised assistance tends to
be underutilised. In most countries, immigrants and
non-residents usually only have access to emergency
care. As long as there are gender differences in income
levels, these different patterns are also relevant in terms
of gender.
The physical, psychological and social barriers that
prevent many women from making healthy decisions
Executive summary
are often not visible or addressed by healthcare
treatment programmes and regulations. There is
usually little recognition of gender specificities in the
treatment of some pathologies such as heart diseases,
sexually transmitted diseases, mental disorders,
or work-related illnesses, and of the long-term
consequences of violence and abuse on women’s
health. In many cases, as for example in heart diseases,
the knowledge utilised is based on studies conducted
on men, which results in treatment that may, in
some cases, not address the needs of women. Other
examples are the repercussions on mental health
of the role overload of working women with care
responsibilities, or of the anxiety and social isolation
often experienced by female single parents and older
single women. Domestic abuse, in particular, results
in high rates of depression and anxiety for women.
As for work-related health risks, regulations on health
and safety at the workplace mainly cover the risks
that men are more commonly exposed to, while little
consideration is given to the health risks of women in
female-intensive occupations and sectors.
include the lack of insurance coverage (especially
affecting those without residency or citizenship, the
long-term unemployed and the homeless in countries
based on social security contribution systems), the
direct financial costs of care (affecting low-income
groups), the lack of mobility (affecting disabled and
elderly persons), the lack of language competence
(affecting migrants and ethnic minorities), the lack of
information access (affecting the poorly educated and
migrants/ethnic minorities), as well as time constraints
(affecting especially single mothers). In all of these
factors there are specific gender issues to consider.
It has also been noticed that sometimes women and
men are treated differently, not because their specific
needs are recognised, but because of prejudiced
and stereotyped attitudes by health practitioners.
For example, therapeutic support aimed at return to
work after work accidents is more frequent among
men than women. This is also due to the attitudes of
occupational health physicians and of employers, who
feel that rehabilitation is more important for men than
for women.
The increasing role of private health insurance and outof-pocket payments may increase gender inequalities,
since men are more likely to be covered by private
insurance than women, although women are greater
consumers of healthcare services and medicines.
Women usually have a lower income and do not
benefit from the same kind of firm-based private
insurance coverage as men do. Women also present
lower employment rates in the regular economy (many
are either inactive or work at home or in the informal
sector) and, when employed, they are more likely
to be employed in the public sector and small firms
(which are not likely to provide supplementary private
insurance schemes) with part-time and/or temporary
contracts in low-paying jobs. In addition, private
insurance schemes are less attractive to women since
they usually consider age and gender-specific risks in
defining contributions. Women from ethnic minorities
and poor households may be especially penalised by
the privatisation of health services and the increase
in out-of-pocket spending on healthcare. There are
no sex-differentiated comparative data on insurance
coverage by type of insurance in European countries,
however it is likely that financial barriers are particularly
relevant for women living in those countries where the
incidence of cost-sharing is higher and the extension of
public insurance coverage is lower.
The issue of health service provisions targeted
specifically at men is less recognised, even if in some
countries there is an increasing attention to these
issues. Some male-related diseases (such as prostate or
testicular cancers or benign prostatic diseases among
the elderly) are not paid special attention in many
European countries. Also, the health programmes
and treatment of some diseases related to gendered
behaviours, such as alcohol addiction and alcoholrelated diseases, which present different patterns
and consequences among women and men, do not
consider gender differences sufficiently.
Barriers to access and gender
differences
Even if universal or nearly universal rights to care are
basic principles in all the Member States and most of
the European population is covered by public health
insurance, these basic principles do not always translate
into equal access to and use of healthcare. Residency,
socioeconomic and geographical factors can affect the
accessibility to healthcare for specific groups. These
Financial barriers are particularly relevant for lowincome groups and for women. Income inequalities
are especially related to the lack of insurance coverage,
the cost of certain (specialised) types of care (such as
dental, ophthalmic and ear care) which are often not
covered by public insurance systems, and the incidence
of private insurance systems. Out-of-pocket costs and
the persistence of informal payments in many eastern
and southern European countries are also significant.
Cultural barriers are also particularly relevant for
women, especially for immigrant women and women
of ethnic origin. The distinct roles and behaviours
of men and women in a given culture, resulting
from gender norms and values, give rise to gender
differences and inequalities in access to healthcare as
well as in risk behaviours and in health status. Cultural
7
ACCESS TO HEALTHCARE AND LONG-TERM CARE: Equal for women and men?
barriers can be expressed in terms of prejudices and
lack of knowledge among healthcare professionals
concerning gender specificities in needs and types
of care to be provided. Language barriers, as well
as traditions and cultural practices also play a role,
as certain groups of immigrant women and women
of ethnic origin have more difficult access to health
facilities and information on sexual health. On the
other hand, men also have to face stereotypes in
accessing healthcare and prevention programmes.
Osteoporosis, for instance, is perceived as a female
disease, and it might be less obvious that men should
be treated for osteoporosis as well. Education and
health prevention programmes are also targeted
mostly at women and only occasionally address men.
The report shows that it is important to take into
consideration a variety of elements while analysing
cultural barriers in accessing healthcare. These are
prejudices and gender stereotypes, social status
and level of education, cultural differences inherent
in ethnicity and migration issues (that involve not
only language skills but also traditions and norms of
hygiene), religious practices, prejudices concerning
sexual orientation, and working culture.
Geographical variations in coverage and provision are
another relevant barrier to access healthcare. The supply
of healthcare services is typically greater in bigger cities
and more densely populated areas, whilst there is a lack
of General Practitioners or family doctors and of certain
basic specialist services in small, rural and remote areas.
Hospitals are also often unevenly distributed across the
countries, with the explanation in some cases coming
from geographical features (due to the presence of
islands or mountains). In some countries, however,
disparities are the result of decentralised decisionmaking processes, giving regional and local authorities
policy discretion and permitting regional differences
in funding. The distance from hospitals and healthcare
centres and the lack of accessible transportation and
facilities particularly affect women (especially those
living in rural or mountainous areas, the disabled and
the elderly), as they are less autonomous concerning
mobility than men (they drive cars less frequently than
men), and live more years in old age and ill health.
Gender differences in access to
long-term care
All over Europe various provisions concerning longterm care (LTC) are present. The mix of benefit types —
formal/informal, in cash/in kind, institutional/at home
care — varies among European countries, reflecting
more the organisational features of each system
rather than population structure and demographic
developments. In particular, the variations reflect the
different national approaches to familial solidarity
8
(incidence of informal care and support for carers). In
the last 15 years, European countries have experienced
reforms aimed at removing inequalities in access to LTC
and improving the quality of care.
The gender perspective is relevant when considering
access to LTC services, as women are the main providers
of LTC, especially informal care, and the main users of
LTC services, because they live longer than men and
are more likely to live alone in old age. Elderly women
are also likely to be more negatively affected than men
by the forms of co-payment for access to LTC which
have been introduced in many countries, because their
average income is lower than men’s.
Addressing gender inequalities
in access to healthcare and longterm care
The comparative analysis presented in this report has
highlighted some important issues which have to be
addressed in order to reduce gender inequalities in
access to healthcare and long-term care and provide
cost-effective and high-quality care.
The most important is the need to adopt a gender
perspective in healthcare policies, considering the
biological, economic, social and cultural factors which
affect the health condition of women and men and
their access to healthcare. A gender mainstreaming
approach to healthcare policies, addressing genderspecific risk factors in medical research, in service
delivery (considering promotion, prevention and
treatment policies) and the design of financing systems
enhances the effectiveness of the care provided for
women and men and reduces inequalities in access,
as shown in some of the good practices presented in
the report.
Gender-based health research increases knowledge
regarding the complex ways in which biological,
social, cultural and environmental factors interact to
affect the health of women and men. Gender-based
medical research also improves the attention of health
practitioners regarding gender differences and supports
the provision of gender-differentiated treatment when
necessary. For example, it is important that research in
cardiovascular diseases considers gender differences in
morbidity and mortality and in reaction to treatment;
occupational health and safety research and practices
should take gender-specific factors into account, such
as the different health risks that women and men are
exposed to, due to occupational gender segregation
and the health risks resulting from precarious
employment, domestic work and informal care work
performed by women.
Executive summary
The implementation of gendered health information
systems and analysis tools (such as Gender Impact
Assessment), upgrading quality in data collection
and analysis, is essential to support medical research
and the systematic gender-specific monitoring and
evaluation of healthcare systems.
The promotion of capacity building for gender
sensitivity in healthcare systems and gender-specific
training for healthcare professionals is likely to improve
the attention paid to gender differences in service
delivery and the effectiveness of healthcare services.
Recognition of women’s role as healthcare users
and providers both within the healthcare system
and outside as informal and often unpaid carers,
is important when evaluating the gender impact
of recent trends in healthcare reforms, especially
in relation to healthcare financing and delivery.
Healthcare reform trends, especially increasing the
incidence of cost-sharing through private insurance
schemes and out-of-pocket payments, may adversely
affect women more than men, since women are the
majority among healthcare users and low-income
groups. Recent trends in cost containment and the
limitation in the basic care provisions included within
primary care are also likely to increase gender and
income inequalities if not adequately addressed. The
rationalisation of healthcare services which, in many
countries, has reduced local clinics and services in
rural or low-populated areas and reduced patient/staff
ratios may have negative consequences for women
more than for men, as women are the majority both
among healthcare users and providers. These issues
are particularly relevant for LTC, where gender plays
an even more relevant role, women being the main
care providers (formal and informal) and care users.
Measures supporting LTC systems have important
gender impacts. Provisions to overcome barriers
to accessing LTC can be found across European
countries and are presented in the report. They are
mainly related to: supporting low-income groups
(such as in the Netherlands); improving the quality
of care (such as in Germany, Romania and Norway);
and supporting informal care providers (such as in
Finland and Sweden).
To conclude, the evidence emerging from this
comparative report underlines the need to adopt
a gender mainstreaming approach to healthcare
policies in order to improve their effectiveness. This
is even more relevant as the current financial and
economic crisis may reduce the available resources for
improving the quality and coverage of healthcare and
LTC provisions, with pilot gender-based programmes
at great risk of budget cuts. Eastern European
countries, in the process of improving the quality
and extension of their healthcare systems, especially
present such a risk.
9
Zusammenfassung
Obwohl das Gesundheitssystem zu bedeutenden Verbesserungen der Gesundheit in Europa beigetragen
hat, bleibt der Zugang zum Gesundheitswesen in den
Ländern und Bevölkerungsgruppen unterschiedlich, je
nach sozioökonomischem Status, Wohnort, ethnischer
Gruppe und Geschlecht.
Das Geschlecht spielt eine wesentliche Rolle sowohl
beim Auftreten und der Verbreitung spezifischer Krankheiten, als auch in ihrer Behandlung und ihren Auswirkungen auf das Wohlbefinden und die Genesung. Dies
ist bedingt durch die Wechselbeziehungen zwischen
geschlechtsspezifischen biologischen Unterschieden
und sozioökonomischen sowie kulturellen Faktoren,
die sich auf das Verhalten von Frauen und Männern und
deren Zugang zu Gesundheitsdiensten auswirken.
Dieser vergleichende Bericht stellt die Hauptunterschiede des Gesundheitszustands von Frauen und
Männern in den europäischen Ländern dar und untersucht, wie Gesundheits- und Pflegeversicherungssysteme die speziellen Bedürfnisse von Frauen und Männern bei der Gewährleistung eines gleichberechtigten
Zugangs berücksichtigen. Dabei werden die wesentlichen finanziellen, kulturellen und physischen Zugangsbarrieren betrachtet und Beispiele bewährter Methoden für die Förderung von Gesundheitsbehandlungen,
Präventions- und allgemeinen Behandlungsprogrammen sowie der Pflegeversicherung vorgestellt.
Die in dieser Studie verwendeten Informationen
stammen von der Expertengruppe des EGGSI Netz­
werkes für Geschlechtergleichstellung, soziale Integra­
tion, Gesundheitsversorgung und Langzeitpflege und
beziehen sich auf die 30 europäischen Länder (EU-27
und EEA/EFTA) (3). Verfügbare vergleichende statistische Daten von Eurostat- und OECD-Quellen wurden
ebenfalls herangezogen.
(3)
EGGSI ist ein Netzwerk der Europäischen Kommission, das
sich aus 30 nationalen Experten (EU und EEA-Länder) aus den
Bereichen Geschlechtergleichstellung, soziale Integration,
Gesundheit und Langzeitpflege zusammensetzt. Das Netzwerk
wird vom Istituto per la Ricerca Sociale und der Stiftung
Giacomo Brodolini koordiniert. Es führt jährlich ein strategisch
ausgerichtetes Forschungsprogramm durch und untersteht der
Generaldirektion Beschäftigung, soziale Angelegenheiten und
Chancengleichheit.
Geschlechterunterschiede
hinsichtlich des
Gesundheitszustands
Geschlechterunterschiede hinsichtlich des Gesundheitszustands und der Gesundheitsbedürfnisse werden größtenteils durch biologische und genetische
Faktoren sowie durch Unterschiede in gesellschaftlichen Normen und Gesundheitsverhalten erklärt.
Einerseits sind Frauen und Männer anfällig für
geschlechtsspezifische Krankheiten, die in Zusammenhang mit ihrer Reproduktionsgesundheit stehen,
wie zum Beispiel Brust- und Gebärmutterhalskrebs
bei Frauen und Prostatakrebs bei Männern. Andererseits weisen Frauen und Männer auch unterschiedliche
Symptome und Folgeerscheinungen bei allgemeinen
Krankheiten auf, wie zum Beispiel bei kardiovaskulären
und bei vielen sexuell übertragbaren Krankheiten.
Abgesehen von biologischen Faktoren wirken sich
auch gesellschaftliche Normen unterschiedlich auf den
Gesundheitszustand von Frauen und Männern aus:
Frauen lassen sich seltener auf riskantes Gesundheitsverhalten ein und sind demzufolge nicht so häufig von
den damit verbundenen Krankheiten und Behinderungen betroffen wie Männer. Allerdings weisen sie eher
als Männer „unsichtbare“ Krankheiten und Behinderungen auf, die oftmals nicht angemessen vom Gesundheitssystem anerkannt werden. Beispiele hierfür sind
Depressionen, Essstörungen und Behinderungen, die
durch Haushaltsunfälle und durch sexuelle Gewalt verursacht wurden, sowie altersbedingte Krankheiten und
Behinderungen. Frauen, vor allem sehr junge Frauen,
sind anfälliger als Männer für sexuell übertragbare
Krankheiten, und die Folgen sind für sie schwerwiegender. Sexuelle Misshandlung und häusliche Gewalt
treffen Frauen und Mädchen in allen Ländern und in
allen sozialen Klassen.
Der Vergleich des Gesundheitszustands der Bevölkerung in den europäischen Ländern zeigt auch, dass
Frauen und Männer osteuropäischer Länder tendenziell schlechtere Gesundheitsbedingungen aufweisen
als Frauen aus westlichen Ländern.
Insgesamt kann beobachtet werden, dass Frauen ihren
Gesundheitszustand bewusster wahrnehmen und häufiger Gesundheitsbehandlungen in Anspruch nehmen
als Männer. Dies ist durch ihre Reproduktionsrolle, ihre
Rolle als Pflegerinnen von Angehörigen (Kinder, Ältere,
11
ACCESS TO HEALTHCARE AND LONG-TERM CARE: Equal for women and men?
Behinderte), ihren größeren Anteil an der älteren
Bevölkerung und auch durch Geschlechterstereotype
bedingt, da Männer es im Allgemeinen nicht als normal betrachten, sich über ihre Gesundheit zu beschweren und einen Arzt aufzusuchen.
Geschlechterunterschiede
bei Maßnahmen der
Gesundheitspflege
Man weiß nur wenig über Geschlechterunterschiede
beim Zugang zur Gesundheits- und Langzeitpflege
und darüber, ob und wie Gesundheits- und Langzeitpflegesysteme diese Unterschiede bei den Versorgungsdiensten berücksichtigen. Während Frauen zum
Beispiel ein in stärkerem Maße gesundheitsbewusstes
Verhalten als Männer aufweisen und daher auch mehr
für Gesundheitsprävention und -förderung tun, scheint
es auch bewiesen zu sein, dass insbesondere arme
Frauen (4) größere Schwierigkeiten haben, auf Gesundheitsdienste zuzugreifen, als Männer.
In einigen europäischen Ländern (wie in Österreich,
Bulgarien, Deutschland, Island, Italien, Norwegen, Spanien, den Niederlanden, Großbritannien und Slowenien) steigt das Bewusstsein in staatlichen Einrichtungen, Universitäten und vor allem bei NRO, die seit Langem aktiv an der Bereitstellung von speziellen Diensten für Frauen, ethnische Minderheiten und andere
benachteiligte Gruppen beteiligt sind, Geschlechterunterschiede beim Zugang zu Gesundheitsdiensten
anzuerkennen. In diesen Ländern wurden vor Kurzem
geschlechtsspezifische Strategien in die Gesundheitsbehandlungen und in der medizinischen Forschung
eingeführt: Es wurden Zentren für Ressourcen und Forschungsinstitute mit speziellem Fachwissen in Bezug
auf Frauen und Gesundheit geschaffen sowie Observatorien für Frauengesundheit eingerichtet, um die
Erhebung geschlechtsspezifischer Daten und die Entwicklung entsprechender medizinischer Forschung
zu unterstützen. Überdies haben diese Länder spezielle Schulungsprojekte für Allgemeinmediziner und
Gesundheitsdienste eingeführt sowie Pilotprogramme
für die Behandlung von benachteiligten Frauen, wie
beispielsweise Obdachlose, Immigrantinnen, behinderte Frauen und alleinstehende Mütter.
Die in diesem Bericht dargestellte vergleichende Analyse hat gezeigt, dass es in den meisten Ländern abgesehen von der Reproduktionsmedizin noch immer
wenige geschlechtsspezifische Gesundheitsstrategien und -dienste gibt, die die Besonderheiten von
(4) Bericht des Instituts für Frauengesundheit (European Institute
of Women’s Health), Konferenz zur Geschlechtergleichheit,
Konferenz vom September 2000, http://www.eurohealth.ie/gender/index.htm
12
geschlechterspezifischem Verhalten und Krankheiten
in strukturierter Weise ansprechen.
Gesundheitsförderungsstrategien scheinen weitgehend
geschlechtsneutral zu sein, mit Ausnahme der Reproduktionsgesundheit. Die Förderung des Stillens ist das
in Europa am weitesten verbreitete Förderungsprogramm. Es wird durch gemeinsame Richtlinien unterstützt und geht in vielen Ländern mit allgemeinen Programmen einher, die Mütter und ihre neugeborenen
Babys unterstützen. Auch Programme zur Förderung
von gesundheitsbewusstem Verhalten für Erwachsene
oder Jugendliche sind oftmals geschlechtsbezogen
und speziell auf Frauen oder Männer ausgerichtet. Der
Bericht stellt Programme vor, die auf die Reduzierung
des Alkoholkonsums und des Rauchens abzielen und
gesunde Ernährungsweisen sowie körperliche Bewegung fördern, Programme zur Förderung der psychischen und beruflichen Gesundheit, Gesundheitsförderungsprogramme und Kampagnen, die besonders auf
gefährdete Gruppen abzielen. In denjenigen Ländern,
in denen nationale Gesundheitsförderungsmaßnahmen weniger entwickelt sind, spielen NRO eine maßgebliche Rolle beim Ersatz öffentlicher Maßnahmen
und bieten einen Anreiz zur Steigerung des Bewusstseins in bestimmten Bereichen.
Screening-Programme sind wichtige Präventionsmaß­
nahmen, da viele Krankheiten durch Früherkennung
vermieden werden können. Die nationalen EGGSIBerichte haben hervorgehoben, dass geschlechterbezogene Präventionsprogramme hauptsächlich auf
Frauen abzielen. Das wichtigste und am weitesten
verbreitete geschlechterbezogene Präventionsprogramm, das in Europa implementiert wurde, ist das
Krebs-Screening. Dieses steht in Zusammenhang mit
einer Empfehlung des Rates, der alle Mitgliedstaaten
dazu auffordert, gemeinsame Maßnahmen zu ergreifen, um nationale Krebs-Screening Programme mit
einem bevölkerungsbasierten Ansatz und mit geeigneter Qualitätssicherung auf allen Ebenen zu implementieren. Obwohl viele Fortschritte gemacht wurden,
muss jedoch noch mehr getan werden, um sicherzustellen, dass Programme in allen Mitgliedstaaten zur
Verfügung stehen.
In Europa beziehen sich viele Präventionsprogramme
auf die Mutterschaft: Pränatal-Tests, Unterstützung für
Mütter mit neugeborenen Kindern und Familienentwicklung, Unterstützung von Kindergruppen und Müttern mit besonderen Bedürfnissen. Andere weitverbreitete Präventionsprogramme in Europa betreffen die
sexuelle Gesundheit und die Reproduktionsgesundheit.
Der Gesundheitssektor kann auch eine entscheidende
Rolle dabei spielen, häuslicher Gewalt gegen Frauen vor­
zubeugen, indem er dazu beiträgt, Missbrauch früh zu
erkennen, den Opfern die notwendige Behandlung
zukommen zu lassen und den Frauen die geeignete
Zusammenfassung
Hilfe zur Verfügung zu stellen. Ein allgemeiner Mangel
an Aufmerksamkeit unter der Bevölkerung und bei der
Wahrnehmung durch das Gesundheitspersonal wurde
in einigen nationalen EGGSI-Berichten beschrieben,
zusammen mit einigen Musterbeispielen im Zusammenhang mit Unterstützungsdiensten für die Opfer.
Einerseits sind nur wenige der in den nationalen EGGSIBerichten vorgestellten Programme, die auf Kinder und
Jugendliche abzielen, geschlechterbezogen. Das in
Europa am weitesten verbreitete auf junge Mädchen
abzielende Programm (wenn auch mit Zugangsunterschieden), ist das Impfprogramm gegen humane Papil­
loviren (HPV). Ein anderer Bereich, in dem junge Mädchen die Hauptzielgruppe bei Präventivprogrammen
sind, ist die Erziehung zum gesunden Sexualverhalten
und Abtreibungsprävention. Abtreibung bei Jugendlichen stellt noch immer ein Problem in Europa dar,
obwohl sich ein deutlicher Rückgang abzeichnet.
Obwohl begonnen wurde, geschlechtsspezifisches
gesundheitsbezogenes Risikoverhalten zu dokumentieren und das Wissen über die Notwendigkeit geschlechtsspezifischer Gesundheitsbehandlung
immer weiter verbreitet ist, werden die Geschlechterunterschiede bei den meisten Gesundheitsbehandlun­
gen noch immer vernachlässigt. Ausnahmen stellen die
Behandlung im Bereich der Reproduktion (Versorgung
mit dem grundlegenden Diensten für schwangere
Frauen und für die Entbindung) sowie die Behandlung
von besonderen weiblichen Krankheiten, wie zum Beispiel Brust- und Gebärmutterhalskrebs, dar.
Alter, Einkommen, Bildung und Wohnsitz sind wichtige Zugangsfaktoren für die Gesundheitsbehandlungen von Frauen und Männern. Bei ähnlichen Gesundheitsbedürfnissen machen Personen mit niedrigerem Einkommen und Bildungsstand öfter und intensiver Gebrauch von den Diensten der medizinischen
Grundversorgung, wohingegen Fachbehandlungen
nicht ausreichend genutzt werden. In den meisten
Ländern haben Immigranten und Personen ohne Aufenthaltsstatus im Allgemeinen nur Zugang zur medizinischen Notfallversorgung. Solange es Geschlechterunterschiede beim Einkommensniveau gibt, sind
diese unterschiedlichen Muster auch in Bezug auf das
Geschlechterverhältnis relevant.
Die physischen, psychologischen und sozialen Barrieren, die viele Frauen davon abhalten, gesundheitsbewusste Entscheidungen zu treffen, sind oft nicht sichtbar oder werden durch Gesundheitsbehandlungsprogramme und -bestimmungen nicht angesprochen. Es besteht normalerweise wenig Anerkennung
der geschlechtsspezifischen Besonderheiten bei der
Behandlung einiger Krankheiten, wie zum Beispiel bei
Herzkrankheiten, sexuell übertragbaren Krankheiten,
psychischen oder arbeitsbedingten Krankheiten sowie
den Langzeitauswirkungen von Gewalt und Misshandlungen auf die Frauengesundheit. In vielen Fällen, wie
zum Beispiel bei Herzkrankheiten, basieren die verwendeten Kenntnisse auf Studien, die an Männern durchgeführt wurden, woraus sich Behandlungen ergeben, die
in einigen Fällen nicht auf die Bedürfnisse der Frauen
zugeschnitten sind. Andere Beispiele betreffen die
Auswirkungen auf die psychische Gesundheit durch
die Rollenüberlastung von arbeitenden Frauen mit
Pflegeverantwortung, oder der oftmals von alleinstehenden Müttern und alleinstehenden älteren Frauen
erfahrenen Angst und sozialen Isolation. Insbesondere häuslicher Missbrauch hat oftmals hohe Depressions- und Angstquoten von Frauen zur Folge. Bezüglich der Gesundheitsrisiken am Arbeitsplatz decken die
Gesundheits- und Sicherheitsbestimmungen hauptsächlich die Risiken ab, denen Männer im Allgemeinen
ausgesetzt sind, während den Gesundheitsrisiken von
Frauen in frauentypischen Anstellungen und Sektoren
nur wenig Beachtung geschenkt wird.
Es wurde außerdem bemerkt, dass Frauen und Männer manchmal unterschiedlich behandelt werden, und
dies nicht, weil ihre speziellen Bedürfnisse berücksichtigt werden, sondern durch Vorurteile und stereotypes Verhalten des Gesundheitspersonals. Zum Beispiel
bekommen Männer bei der Rückkehr an ihren Arbeitsplatz nach Arbeitsunfällen häufiger therapeutische
Unterstützung als Frauen. Dies ist auch bedingt durch
das Verhalten von Arbeitsärzten und Arbeitgebern, die
die Rehabilitation von Männern für wichtiger erachten
als die von Frauen.
Der Bereich der auf Männer ausgerichteten Gesundheitsbehandlung ist weniger anerkannt, auch wenn diesem in einigen Ländern zunehmend Aufmerksamkeit
geschenkt wird. Einigen männerspezifischen Krankheiten (wie Prostata- oder Hodenkrebs oder gutartige Prostataerkrankungen bei älteren Männern) wird in vielen europäischen Ländern hingegen keine besondere
Beachtung geschenkt. Auch Gesundheitsprogramme
und die Behandlung einiger Krankheiten, die in Bezug
zu geschlechterbezogenem Verhalten stehen, wie beispielsweise Alkoholismus und alkoholbedingte Krankheiten, und die unterschiedliche Muster und Folgen
bei Frauen und Männern aufweisen, gehen nicht ausreichend auf die Geschlechterunterschiede ein.
Zugangsbarrieren und
Geschlechterunterschiede
Auch wenn ein allgemeines oder fast allgemeines Recht
auf Gesundheitsversorgung ein Grundprinzip in allen
Mitgliedstaaten darstellt und der größte Teil der europäischen Bevölkerung durch die öffentlichen Krankenkassen abgesichert ist, hat dieses Grundprinzip nicht
immer den gleichen Zugang und die gleiche Nutzung
13
ACCESS TO HEALTHCARE AND LONG-TERM CARE: Equal for women and men?
der Gesundheitsdienste zur Folge. Wohnsitz, sozioökonomische und geografische Faktoren können den
Zugang bestimmter Gruppen zu Gesundheitsdiensten beeinflussen. Dies umfasst die fehlende Versicherung (was insbesondere diejenigen betrifft, die keine
Aufenthaltsgenehmigung oder Staatsangehörigkeit
haben sowie Langzeitarbeitslose und Obdachlose in
Ländern mit beitragsbezogenen sozialen Sicherungssystemen), die direkten finanziellen Kosten der Behandlungen (betrifft Gruppen mit niedrigem Einkommen),
fehlende Mobilität (betrifft Behinderte und Ältere), fehlende Sprachkompetenz (betrifft MigrantInnen und
ethnische Minderheiten), den Mangel an Zugang zu
Informationen (betrifft Personen mit geringer Bildung
und MigrantInnen/ethnische Minderheiten), sowie
Zeitmangel (betrifft insbesondere alleinstehende Mütter). Bei all diesen Faktoren müssen geschlechtsspezifische Belange berücksichtigt werden.
Finanzielle Barrieren sind besonders relevant für Gruppen mit geringem Einkommen und für Frauen. Ungleiche Einkommen stehen insbesondere im Zusammenhang mit fehlender Versicherung, den Kosten bestimmter (fachlicher) Pflegearten (wie Zahn-, Augen- und
Ohrenbehandlungen), die oft nicht durch die öffentlichen Versicherungssysteme abgedeckt werden, und
dem Vorhandensein privater Versicherungssysteme.
Private Zusatzkosten sowie das Fortbestehen informeller Zahlungen in vielen ost- und südeuropäischen Ländern sind ebenfalls wichtig.
Die zunehmende Bedeutung privater Krankenversicherungen und privater Zusatzkosten könnte
Geschlechterungleichheiten erhöhen, da Männer
öfter durch private Krankenversicherungen abgesichert sind als Frauen, obwohl Frauen mehr Gesundheitsbehandlungen und Medizin in Anspruch nehmen. Frauen haben gewöhnlich ein niedrigeres Einkommen und profitieren nicht in derselben Weise von
firmenbasierten privaten Absicherungen wie Männer. Frauen weisen überdies niedrigere Anstellungsraten in der geregelten Wirtschaft auf (viele sind entweder unbeschäftigt oder arbeiten zu Hause oder im
informellen Sektor), und wenn sie beschäftigt sind,
sind sie häufiger im öffentlichen Sektor und in kleinen Firmen (die keine zusätzlichen privaten Krankenversicherungen anbieten) sowie in Teilzeit- und/
oder mit Zeitverträgen in Niedriglohnjobs beschäftigt. Überdies sind private Krankenversicherungen
für Frauen weniger attraktiv, da diese im Allgemeinen
Alter und geschlechtsspezifische Risiken bei der Beitragsberechnung mit einbeziehen. Frauen ethnischer
Minderheiten und aus ärmeren Haushalten könnten
besonders durch die Privatisierung von Gesundheitsdiensten und die zunehmenden privaten Zuzahlungen bei der Gesundheitsbehandlung benachteiligt
werden. Es gibt keine geschlechterdifferenzierten
und vergleichenden Daten des Versicherungsschut14
zes nach Versicherungsart in den europäischen Ländern. Allerdings ist es wahrscheinlich, dass finanzielle
Barrieren besonders für Frauen relevant sind, die in
Ländern leben, wo die Zuzahlungen höher sind und
die Absicherung durch öffentliche Krankenversicherungen niedriger ist.
Kulturelle Barrieren sind ebenfalls besonders relevant für Frauen, insbesondere für Immigrantinnen
und für Frauen bestimmter ethnischer Herkunft. Die
unterschiedlichen Rollen und Verhaltensweisen von
Männern und Frauen in einer bestimmten Kultur, die
durch Geschlechternormen und -werte bedingt sind,
erhöhen Geschlechterunterschiede und -ungleichheiten beim Zugang zu Gesundheitsdiensten sowie das
Risikoverhalten und den Gesundheitszustand. Kulturelle Barrieren können durch Vorurteile und fehlende
Kenntnisse bezüglich geschlechtsspezifischer Bedürfnisse und Behandlungsweisen beim Gesundheitspersonal zum Ausdruck kommen. Sprachbarrieren sowie
Traditionen und kulturelle Praktiken spielen ebenfalls eine Rolle, da einige Immigrantinnen und Frauen
bestimmter ethnischer Herkunft größere Schwierigkeiten beim Zugang zu Gesundheitsdiensten und
zu Informationen zur sexuellen Gesundheit haben.
Andererseits sind auch Männer beim Zugang zu
Gesundheitsbehandlungen und Präventionsprogrammen mit Stereotypen konfrontiert. Osteoporose wird
zum Beispiel als eine Frauenkrankheit wahrgenommen, obwohl es offensichtlich ist, dass auch Männer
gegen Osteoporose behandelt werden sollten. Auch
Bildungs- und Gesundheitspräventionsprogramme
sind meistens auf Frauen ausgerichtet und sprechen
nur gelegentlich Männer an. Der Bericht zeigt auch
auf, dass es wichtig ist, verschiedene Elemente bei der
Analyse der kulturellen Hindernisse beim Zugang zu
Gesundheitsdiensten zu berücksichtigen.
Dies betrifft Vorurteile und Geschlechterstereotypen,
sozialen Status und Bildungsniveau, kulturelle Unterschiede je nach ethnischer Zugehörigkeit und Migrationshintergrund (was nicht nur die Sprachfähigkeiten
einschließt, sondern auch Traditionen und Hygienenormen), religiöse Praktiken, Vorurteile bezüglich sexueller Orientierung und der Arbeitskultur.
Geografische Unterschiede in der Versorgung und der
Flächendeckung sind weitere relevante Barrieren
beim Zugang zu Gesundheitsbehandlungen. Die Versorgung mit Gesundheitsdiensten ist üblicherweise
besser in größeren Städten und in dichter besiedelten
Gebieten, während ein Mangel an Allgemeinmedizinern oder Hausärzten sowie an bestimmten grundlegenden Facharztdienstleistungen in kleinen, ländlichen und abgelegenen Gebieten besteht. Krankenhäuser sind in den Ländern oft ungleich verteilt, was
sich in einigen Fällen durch geografische Merkmale
(wie auf Inseln oder in Berggebieten) erklären lässt. In
Zusammenfassung
einigen Ländern sind Unterschiede jedoch das Ergebnis eines dezentralisierten Entscheidungsfindungsprozesses, bei dem regionale und lokale Behörden Richtlinienbefugnis haben und regionale Unterschiede bei
der Finanzierung entstehen. Die Entfernung zu Krankenhäusern und Gesundheitszentren und der Mangel an erreichbaren Transportmitteln und Einrichtungen betreffen insbesondere Frauen in ländlichen oder
bergigen Gebieten, Behinderte und ältere Frauen, da
diese hinsichtlich der Mobilität weniger unabhängig
sind als Männer (sie fahren seltener Auto als Männer)
und eine höhere Lebenserwartung haben und somit
mehr Krankheitsjahre aufweisen.
Geschlechterunterschiede beim
Zugang zur Langzeitpflege
In ganz Europa gibt es zahlreiche Vorschriften für die
Langzeitpflege. Die Mischung der Leistungsarten –
formell/informell, in Barzahlungen/in Sachleistungen,
institutionelle/häusliche Pflege – variiert in den verschiedenen europäischen Ländern und spiegelt stärker die organisatorischen Merkmale jedes Systems
wider als die Bevölkerungsstruktur und die demografischen Entwicklungen. Insbesondere spiegeln die
Unterschiede die verschiedenen nationalen Annäherungen an familiäre Solidarität wider (informelle
Pflege und Unterstützung für Pfleger). In den vergangenen fünfzehn Jahren haben europäische Länder
Reformen erfahren, die darauf abzielten, Ungleichheiten beim Zugang zur Langzeitpflege zu beseitigen
und die Pflegequalität zu verbessern.
Die Geschlechterperspektive ist bei der Berücksichtigung des Zugangs zu Langzeitpflegediensten relevant, da Frauen die hauptsächlichen Anbieter von
Langzeitpflege sind, insbesondere der informellen Pflegedienste, und die Hauptnutzer, da sie länger als Männer leben und häufiger im Alter alleinstehend sind. Auch sind ältere Frauen häufiger als Männer negativ von den in vielen Ländern eingeführten
Zuzahlungen für den Zugang zu Langzeitpflegediensten betroffen, da ihr durchschnittliches Einkommen
niedriger ist als das der Männer.
Geschlechterungleichheiten beim
Zugang zu Gesundheitsfürsorge
und Langzeitpflegediensten
Die in diesem Bericht vorgestellte vergleichende Analyse hat einige wichtige Probleme herausgearbeitet,
die angegangen werden müssen, um Geschlechterunterschiede beim Zugang zu Gesundheitspflege und
Langzeitpflege zu verringern und kostenwirksame
sowie qualitativ hochwertige Pflege zu liefern.
Das Wichtigste ist die Notwendigkeit, eine Geschlechterperspektive in Gesundheitsfürsorgerichtlinien zu
übernehmen, unter Berücksichtigung der biologischen, ökonomischen, sozialen und kulturellen Faktoren, die den Gesundheitszustand von Männern und
Frauen und deren Zugang zu Gesundheitsdiensten
beeinflussen. Der Ansatz einer geschlechterorientierten Gesundheitspolitik, der geschlechterspezifische
Risikofaktoren in der medizinischen Forschung, in der
Versorgung (unter Berücksichtigung der Förderung,
Prävention und der Behandlungsrichtlinien) sowie
der Entwicklung von Finanzierungssystemen berücksichtigt, verbessert die Wirksamkeit der Pflege für
Frauen und Männer und verringert Ungleichheiten
beim Zugang, wie in einigen der Beispiele im Bericht
gezeigt wurde.
Geschlechterbasierte Gesundheitsforschung erhöht das
Wissen in Bezug auf die komplexe Art, in der biologische, soziale, kulturelle und Umweltfaktoren zusammenwirken und auf die Gesundheit von Frauen und
Männern einwirken. Geschlechterbasierte medizinische Forschung verbessert auch die Aufmerksamkeit
des Gesundheitspersonals in Bezug auf Geschlechterunterschiede und unterstützt, wenn notwendig,
die Förderung geschlechterdifferenzierter Behandlung. Es ist zum Beispiel wichtig, dass bei der Erforschung kardiovaskulärer Krankheiten Geschlechterunterschiede bei der Krankheitsziffer und der Sterbewahrscheinlichkeit sowie als Folge auch in der
Behandlung berücksichtigt werden; die Erforschung
der Gesundheit am Arbeitsplatz und der Arbeitssicherheit sowie die Praktiken sollten geschlechtsspezifische Faktoren in Betracht ziehen, wie zum Beispiel
die unterschiedlichen Gesundheitsrisiken, denen
Frauen und Männer aufgrund beruflicher geschlechterspezifischer Segregation ausgesetzt sind, und die
Gesundheitsrisiken, die sich aus prekären Anstellungen, bei der Hausarbeit und bei informeller Pflege
durch Frauen ergeben.
Die Einführung geschlechtsspezifischer Gesundheitsin­
formationssysteme und Analyseinstrumente (wie zum
Beispiel Gender Impact Assessment), die die Qualität
bei der Erhebung und Analyse von Daten verbessern, ist
grundlegend für die Unterstützung der medizinischen
Forschung und für die systematische geschlechtsspezifische Überwachung und Evaluierung von Gesundheitspflegesystemen.
Die Förderung von Handlungskapazitäten und Wissen
für eine geschlechterspezifische Sensibilität in den
Gesundheitspflegesystemen und die geschlechtsspe­
zifische Schulung des Gesundheitspflegepersonals
werden voraussichtlich die Aufmerksamkeit gegenüber Geschlechterunterschieden bei der Bereitstellung und der Wirksamkeit von Gesundheitspflegediensten erhöhen.
15
ACCESS TO HEALTHCARE AND LONG-TERM CARE: Equal for women and men?
Die Anerkennung der Rolle der Frauen als Nutzer und
Anbieter der Gesundheitspflegedienste, sowohl
innerhalb des Gesundheitspflegesystems als auch
außerhalb in Form von informellen und oft auch
unbezahlten Pflegediensten, ist bei der Evaluierung
der Geschlechterauswirkung auf die derzeitigen Refor­
men des Gesundheitswesens wichtig, insbesondere in
Bezug auf die Finanzierung und Bereitstellung der
Gesundheitspflege. Die Reformen des Gesundheitswesens können sich wegen der Erhöhung der Kostenteilung durch private Versicherungssysteme und
private Zuzahlungen nachteiliger auf Frauen auswirken als auf Männer, da Frauen die Mehrheit unter
den Gesundheitspflegenutzern und den Niedriglohngruppen bilden. Die jüngsten Entwicklungen
zur Kostenreduzierung tragen zur Erhöhung von
Geschlechter- und Einkommensungleichheiten bei,
wenn dies nicht angemessen berücksichtigt wird.
Die Rationalisierung der Gesundheitspflegedienste,
welche in vielen Ländern die Zahl der Kliniken und
Dienstleistungen in ländlichen oder niedrig bevölkerten Gebieten sowie den Patienten-/Personalanteil
verringert hat, könnte für Frauen negativere Folgen
als für Männer mit sich bringen, da Frauen sowohl
die Mehrheit unter den Nutzern als auch unter den
Anbietern der Gesundheitspflege bilden. Diese Probleme sind besonders relevant bei der Langzeitpflege, bei der das Geschlecht eine noch relevantere
Rolle spielt, da Frauen die hauptsächlichen Anbieter
16
(formell und informell) und Nutzer von Pflegeleistungen sind.
Maßnahmen, die Langzeitpflegesysteme unterstützen,
wirken sich auf das Geschlechterverhältnis aus. Vorkehrungen zur Überwindung von Barrieren für Langzeitpflegedienste gibt es in einigen Mitgliedstaaten; sie
werden im Bericht vorgestellt. Sie beziehen sich hauptsächlich auf die Unterstützung von niedrigen Einkommensgruppen (wie in den Niederlanden), die Verbesserung der Pflegequalität (wie in Deutschland, Rumänien
und Norwegen) sowie die Unterstützung informeller
Pflegeanbieter (wie in Finnland und Schweden).
Abschließend zeigen die Ergebnisse aus diesem vergleichenden Bericht, dass die Notwendigkeit besteht,
einen gleichstellungsorientierten Ansatz bei den
Gesundheitspflegerichtlinien anzuwenden, um deren
Wirksamkeit zu verbessern. Dies ist insofern bedeutsam, da die derzeitige Finanz- und Wirtschaftskrise
die verfügbaren Ressourcen zur Verbesserung der
Qualität und der Deckung der Gesundheitspflegeund Langzeitpflegemaßnahmen verringern könnte
und geschlechterbasierte Pilotprogramme unter
großem Budgetkürzungsrisiko stehen. Die osteuropäischen Länder, die dabei sind, die Qualität und
Erweiterung ihrer Gesundheitspflegesysteme zu verbessern, sind einem solchen Risiko in besonderem
Maße ausgesetzt.
Résumé
Alors que les systèmes de soins ont contribué à
améliorer de manière significative le domaine de la
santé en Europe, l’accès à ces derniers demeure inégal
dans les pays et les groupes sociaux, en fonction du
statut socio-économique, du lieu de résidence, du
groupe ethnique et du sexe de la personne concernée.
Le sexe joue un rôle particulier dans l’incidence et dans
la prédominance de pathologies spécifiques, mais aussi
dans leur traitement et leur impact en termes de bienêtre et de rétablissement. Cela en raison des corrélations
qui existent entre les différences biologiques liées au
sexe et les facteurs culturels et socio-économiques
qui produisent des effets sur le comportement des
hommes et femmes et sur leur accès aux services.
Le présent rapport comparatif expose les principales
différences au niveau de l’état de santé des femmes
et des hommes dans les pays européens et étudie la
façon dont les systèmes de soins, et surtout ceux de
longue durée, répondent aux besoins spécifiques des
femmes et des hommes en leur assurant une égalité
d’accès aux soins. Il tient compte des principales
barrières financières, culturelles et physiques à cet
accès et donne des exemples de bonnes pratiques de
promotion des soins, de prévention et de programmes
de traitement général, ainsi que de soins de longue
durée (SLD).
Les informations contenues dans le présent rapport
sont fournies essentiellement par les experts
nationaux du EGGSI (réseau d’experts en égalité
des sexes, insertion sociale, soins de santé et soins
de longue durée) et couvre trente pays européens­
(EU-27 et Espace économique européen/Association
européenne de libre-échange) (5). Des données
statistiques comparatives disponibles auprès
d’Eurostat et de l’Organisation de coopération et de
développement économiques (OCDE) ont également
été prises en compte.
(5)
EGGSI est le réseau de la Commission européenne réunissant
trente experts nationaux (pays de l’Union européenne et de
l’Espace économique européen) dans les domaines de l’égalité
des sexes et de l’insertion sociale ainsi que des questions de
santé et de soins de longue durée. Ce réseau est coordonné
par l’Istituto per la ricerca sociale et la Fondazione Giacomo
Brodolini; il met en œuvre un programme annuel de recherche à
caractère stratégique et en rend compte à la direction générale
de l’emploi, des affaires sociales et de l’égalité des chances.
Différences de l’état de santé
selon le sexe
Les différences de l’état de santé et des besoins en
matière de santé selon le sexe s’expliquent largement
par des facteurs biologiques et génétiques ainsi que par
des différences de normes sociales et de comportement
en matière de santé.
D’une part, les femmes et les hommes sont prédisposés à
des maladies spécifiques liées à leur santé reproductive;
par exemple les cancers du sein et de l’utérus chez les
femmes et le cancer de la prostate chez les hommes.
D’autre part, les femmes et les hommes présentent des
symptômes et des effets différents lors de maladies
courantes, telles que les maladies cardiovasculaires et
de nombreuses maladies sexuellement transmissibles.
Tout comme les facteurs biologiques, les normes
sociales produisent également des effets différents sur
l’état de santé des femmes et des hommes: les femmes
sont moins confrontées que les hommes aux maladies
et handicaps dus à des comportements à risque pour
la santé, mais elles sont plus susceptibles de présenter
des maladies et handicaps «invisibles» qui souvent ne
sont pas reconnus de manière adéquate par le système
de soins (par exemple la dépression, les troubles du
comportement alimentaire, les actes de violence
sexuelle, les handicaps liés à des accidents domestiques
et au grand âge). Les femmes, et plus particulièrement
les très jeunes femmes, sont plus vulnérables que les
hommes aux maladies sexuellement transmissibles,
et les conséquences en sont plus sérieuses pour elles.
Les abus sexuels et les violences domestiques affectent
particulièrement le sexe féminin dans l’ensemble des
pays et dans toutes les classes sociales.
La comparaison de l’état de santé des populations des
pays européens montre également que les pays d’Europe
de l’Est tendent à présenter des conditions de santé
moins bonnes en général que les pays occidentaux.
Les femmes, en général, sont plus conscientes de leur
état de santé et utilisent plus les services de soins que
les hommes. Et ce, pour plusieurs raisons: leur rôle
dans la reproduction, leur rôle d’aidantes vis-à-vis des
personnes dépendantes (enfants, personnes âgées,
handicapées), leur plus grande proportion au sein de
la population âgée et aussi les stéréotypes liés à leur
sexe, puisqu’en général les hommes n’estiment pas
normal de se plaindre de leur santé et de consulter
un médecin.
17
ACCESS TO HEALTHCARE AND LONG-TERM CARE: Equal for women and men?
Différences selon le sexe
dans la prestation des soins
On sait peu de chose sur les disparités entre les
sexes en ce qui concerne l’accès aux soins et plus
particulièrement aux soins de longue durée, et on ne
sait pas davantage si ni comment ces disparités sont
prises en compte dans la prestation des services de
santé. Par exemple, il semble que les femmes ont plus
un comportement qui favorise leur santé et pratiquent
donc plus la prévention et la promotion de la santé par
rapport aux hommes, mais il est également prouvé
que les femmes pauvres (6), en particulier, peuvent
rencontrer plus de difficultés que les hommes à accéder
aux services de santé.
Dans certains pays d’Europe (comme l’Allemagne,
l’Autriche, la Bulgarie, l’Espagne, l’Irlande, l’Islande,
l’Italie, la Norvège, les Pays-Bas, le Royaume-Uni et
la Slovénie), on assiste à une prise de conscience
croissante du besoin de reconnaissance des
différences entre les sexes pour l’accès aux soins
au sein des institutions gouvernementales, des
universités, et en particulier des organisations non
gouvernementales (ONG), traditionnellement très
actives dans la fourniture de services de spécialistes
aux femmes, aux minorités ethniques et autres
groupes défavorisés. Dans ces pays, des stratégies
tenant compte des besoins spécifiques des hommes
et des femmes ont été récemment mises en œuvre
dans le domaine des soins et de la recherche
médicale: des centres de ressources et des instituts
de recherche spécialisés dans le domaine des femmes
et de la santé ont été créés, des observatoires sur la
santé des femmes ont été mis en place pour aider
au développement de données ventilées par sexe et
la recherche médicale sexuée. De plus, ces pays ont
mis en œuvre des projets de formation particuliers
pour les praticiens généralistes et les prestataires
de santé, ainsi que des programmes pilotes pour le
traitement des femmes défavorisées, telles que les
sans domicile fixe, les immigrées, les handicapées et
les mères célibataires.
L’analyse comparative exposée dans le présent
rapport montre toutefois que, dans la plupart des
pays, en dehors des soins en matière de reproduction,
il existe encore peu de stratégies de soins intégrant
le facteur sexe et de services abordant les spécificités
d’attitudes et de maladies liées au sexe d’une manière
plus structurée.
(6)
18
Rapport du European Institute of Women’s Health, conférence
sur l’égalité des sexes, septembre 2000, http://www.eurohealth.ie/gender/index.htm
Les stratégies de promotion de la santé apparaissent
comme largement neutres en matière de sexe, sauf
en ce qui concerne la santé liée à la reproduction. La
promotion de l’allaitement maternel est le programme
le plus répandu à travers l’Europe. Il est soutenu par les
lignes directrices classiques et s’accompagne, dans de
nombreux pays, de programmes plus généraux d’aide
aux mères et aux nouveau-nés. De plus, certains
programmes de promotion de comportements sains
s’adressant aux adultes ou aux adolescents sont
souvent orientés selon le sexe et ont pour cible soit les
hommes, soit les femmes: programmes visant à réduire
la consommation d’alcool et de cigarettes, programmes
soutenant les régimes et l’activité physique, programmes
promouvant la santé mentale et la santé au travail,
programmes de promotion de la santé et campagnes
ciblées tout particulièrement sur les groupes les plus
vulnérables. Dans les pays où les activités de promotion
nationale de la santé sont moins développées, les ONG
jouent habituellement un rôle important en se substituant
aux pouvoirs publics et en lançant des campagnes de
sensibilisation sur des questions spécifiques.
Les programmes de dépistage constituent d’impor­
tantes mesures de prévention, puisque de nombreuses
maladies peuvent être évitées grâce à une détection
précoce. Les rapports nationaux de l’EGGSI ont mis en
évidence que les programmes de prévention intégrant
le facteur sexe sont principalement ciblés sur les
femmes. En Europe, le programme de prévention le
plus important et le plus répandu intégrant le facteur
sexe est le dépistage du cancer. Cela est dû à une
recommandation du Conseil invitant les États membres
à engager une action de mise en œuvre de programmes
nationaux de dépistage du cancer selon une approche
basée sur la population et avec l’assurance d’une qualité
appropriée à tous les niveaux. En dépit des grands
progrès réalisés, il est nécessaire d’en faire davantage
pour s’assurer que les programmes sont disponibles
dans l’ensemble des États membres.
En Europe, de nombreux programmes de prévention
concernent la maternité: tests prénataux, aide aux
mères ayant des nouveau-nés et au développement de
la famille, aide aux groupes d’enfants et de mères ayant
des besoins spécifiques. Mais il existe aussi d’autres
programmes de prévention importants concernant la
santé sexuelle et reproductive. Le secteur de la santé peut
également jouer un rôle essentiel dans la prévention
de la violence domestique contre les femmes, en aidant
à la détection précoce des abus, en fournissant aux
victimes les traitements nécessaires et en renvoyant
les femmes aux soins appropriés. Certains rapports
nationaux de l’EGGSI ont fait état d’un manque général
d’attention de la population et de conscience parmi les
professionnels de la santé, mais ont également mis en
avant des exemples de bonnes pratiques de services
d’aide aux victimes.
Résumé
En revanche, peu de programmes présentés dans les
rapports nationaux de l’EGGSI destinés aux enfants
et aux adolescents sont ciblés selon le sexe. Le
programme le plus répandu à travers l’Europe (même
s’il existe des différences quant à son accès) et ciblé sur
les jeunes filles est le programme de vaccination contre
les papillomavirus humains (PVH). L’éducation sexuelle
et la prévention de l’avortement constituent un autre
domaine où les jeunes filles sont la cible principale de
programmes de prévention. En Europe, l’avortement
chez les adolescentes est encore un problème, même
si une tendance à la réduction transparaît clairement.
Bien que le comportement à risque pour la santé
en fonction du sexe commence à être documenté et
que les connaissances sur la nécessité de fournir un
traitement adapté au sexe soient diffusées de façon
croissante, les disparités entre les sexes dans la plupart
des traitements de soins sont souvent négligées. Les
seules exceptions concernent les soins en matière de
reproduction (prestation de services de base pour les
femmes enceintes et la naissance) et le traitement de
maladies spécifiquement féminines telle que le cancer
du sein et le cancer du col de l’utérus.
L’âge, les revenus, l’éducation et le lieu de résidence
constituent des critères d’accès importants aux
traitements de soins pour les hommes et les femmes.
À des niveaux similaires de besoins de soins, les
individus ayant de plus faibles revenus et une moins
bonne éducation utilisent majoritairement les soins
primaires et tendent à sous-utiliser une assistance
spécialisée. Dans la plupart des pays, les immigrés et
les non-résidents n’ont habituellement accès qu’aux
soins d’urgence. Tant qu’il existera des différences dans
les niveaux de revenus selon le sexe, ces différents
modèles seront également applicables en termes
d’inégalité de genre.
Les barrières physiques, psychologiques et sociales
qui empêchent de nombreuses femmes de prendre
des décisions relatives à leur santé sont souvent
non visibles ou abordées par les programmes et les
réglementations de traitement de soins. Les spécificités
féminines sont peu reconnues dans le traitement
de certaines pathologies telles que les maladies
cardiaques, les maladies sexuellement transmissibles,
les troubles mentaux ou les maladies liées au travail, et
dans celui des conséquences à long terme d’actes de
violence ou d’abus sexuels. En effet, dans de nombreux
cas, par exemple celui des maladies cardiaques, le
savoir utilisé est fondé sur des études menées sur des
hommes, ce qui aboutit à un traitement qui ne répond
pas toujours aux besoins d’une femme. Les autres
exemples sont les répercussions sur la santé mentale
de la surcharge de tâches pour des femmes actives
et ayant des responsabilités de soins, mais aussi de
l’anxiété et de l’isolement social souvent rencontrés
par les mères célibataires et les femmes âgées
vivant seules. Les actes de violence domestique, en
particulier, entraînent habituellement des taux élevés
de dépression et d’anxiété chez les femmes. Quant aux
risques pour la santé liés au travail, les réglementations
sur la santé et la sécurité sur le lieu de travail couvrent
principalement les risques auxquels les hommes sont
plus généralement exposés, tandis qu’il est fait peu
de cas des risques pour la santé des femmes dans des
domaines et des activités féminines intensives.
Il a également été relevé que les femmes et les hommes
sont parfois traités différemment, non parce que leurs
besoins spécifiques sont reconnus, mais en raison des
attitudes préconçues et stéréotypées des praticiens de
la santé. Par exemple, une aide thérapeutique pour le
retour au travail après un accident du travail est plus
fréquente chez les hommes que chez les femmes, car
médecins du travail et les employeurs estiment que la
réintégration est plus importante pour un homme que
pour une femme.
La prestation de services de santé ciblée spécifiquement
sur les hommes est moins reconnue, même si, dans
certains pays, ces questions font l’objet d’une attention
croissante. Certaines maladies spécifiques aux hommes
(cancers de la prostate ou des testicules ou maladies
bénignes de la prostate chez les hommes d’un certain
âge) ne font pas l’objet d’une attention particulière
dans de nombreux pays d’Europe. Par ailleurs, les
programmes de santé et le traitement de certaines
maladies liées aux comportements sexués, telles
l’addiction à l’alcool et les maladies liées à l’alcool, qui
présentent des formes et des effets différents chez les
femmes et les hommes, ne prennent pas suffisamment
en compte les différences liées au sexe.
Barrières à l’accès aux soins
et différences selon le sexe
Même si les droits universels ou quasi universels aux
soins sont des principes de base dans l’ensemble
des États membres et si la majorité des populations
européennes sont couvertes par l’assurance de santé
publique, ces principes de base ne se traduisent pas
toujours en un accès et une utilisation identiques
des soins de santé. Le lieu de résidence et certains
facteurs socio-économiques et géographiques peu­
vent influencer l’accessibilité aux soins de certains
groupes particuliers: l’absence de couverture par
une assurance (touchant en particulier les personnes
sans résidence ou nationalité, les chômeurs de
longue durée et les sans domicile fixe dans des
pays fondés sur des systèmes de contribution de
sécurité sociale), les coûts financiers directs des
soins (touchant les personnes percevant de faibles
revenus), l’absence de mobilité (touchant les
19
ACCESS TO HEALTHCARE AND LONG-TERM CARE: Equal for women and men?
personnes âgées et les handicapés), l’absence de
compétence linguistique (touchant les migrants
et les minorités ethniques), l’absence d’accès à
l’information (touchant les personnes ayant reçu peu
d’éducation et les migrants/minorités ethniques) et
les contraintes de temps (touchant en particulier les
mères célibataires). Tous ces facteurs contiennent
aussi des éléments spécifiques liés au sexe qui
doivent être pris en considération.
Les barrières financières sont particulièrement
significatives pour les groupes disposant de faibles
revenus et pour les femmes. Les inégalités de revenus
sont principalement liées à l’absence de couverture
par une assurance, au coût de certains types de soins
spécialisés (tels que ceux concernant la dentition, la
vue et l’audition) qui souvent ne sont pas couverts
par les systèmes d’assurance publics et à l’incidence
des systèmes d’assurance privés. Les coûts non
remboursés et la persistance de paiements informels
dans de nombreux pays d’Europe de l’Est et du Sud ont
également un impact significatif.
Le rôle croissant de l’assurance maladie privée et
des dépenses non remboursées peut accroître les
inégalités entre les sexes, puisque les hommes sont
plus susceptibles d’être couverts par une assurance
privée que les femmes, bien que celles-ci soient de
plus grandes consommatrices de services de soins
et de médicaments. Habituellement, les femmes ont
un revenu inférieur et ne profitent pas du même type
de couverture d’assurance privée reposant sur une
base professionnelle que les hommes. Les femmes
présentent également des taux d’emploi plus faibles
dans l’économie régulière (de nombreuses femmes
sont inactives ou travaillent à la maison ou dans
le secteur informel) et, lorsqu’elles ont un emploi,
elles sont plus susceptibles d’être employées dans
le secteur public et les petites entreprises (qui ne
sont pas obligées de fournir un système d’assurance
privée complémentaire) avec des contrats de travail
à temps partiel et/ou temporaire pour un emploi mal
payé. En outre, les systèmes d’assurance privée sont
moins attrayants pour les femmes puisqu’ils prennent
habituellement en considération les risques liés à l’âge
et au sexe de la personne concernée pour fixer les
cotisations. Les femmes issues de minorités ethniques
et de ménages pauvres peuvent être particulièrement
pénalisées par la privatisation des services de santé
et l’augmentation des dépenses de santé non
remboursées. Il n’existe pas de données comparatives
selon le sexe relatives à la couverture d’assurance par
type d’assurance dans les pays européens, cependant,
il est vraisemblable que les barrières financières sont
particulièrement significatives pour les femmes vivant
dans les pays où l’incidence du partage des coûts
est plus forte et où l’extension de la couverture de
l’assurance publique est plus faible.
20
Les barrières culturelles sont aussi particulièrement
significatives pour les femmes, spécialement pour les
immigrées et les femmes d’origine ethnique. Les rôles et
comportements distincts des hommes et des femmes
dans une culture donnée, résultant des normes et des
valeurs liées au sexe, donnent lieu à des différences et à
des inégalités entre les sexes dans l’accès aux soins ainsi
qu’au niveau des comportements à risque et de l’état de
santé. Les barrières culturelles peuvent être exprimées
en termes de préjugés et de manque de connaissance
parmi les professionnels de la santé en ce qui concerne
les spécificités liées au sexe pour les besoins et les types
de soins à fournir. Les questions de langue ainsi que les
traditions et les pratiques culturelles jouent également
un rôle. Certains groupes de femmes immigrées et
d’origine ethnique ont de grandes difficultés d’accès
aux équipements de santé et à l’information sur la santé
sexuelle. D’un autre côté, les hommes sont également
confrontés à des stéréotypes lors de l’accès aux soins
et aux programmes de prévention. L’ostéoporose, par
exemple, est perçue comme une maladie féminine,
et il ne semble pas évident que certains hommes
doivent eux aussi être traités pour l’ostéoporose.
Les programmes d’éducation et de prévention de la
santé sont également ciblés principalement sur les
femmes et ne s’adressent aux hommes que de manière
occasionnelle. Ce rapport montre à quel point il est
important de prendre en considération une variété
d’éléments dans l’analyse des barrières culturelles à
l’accès aux soins. Ces éléments sont notamment les
préjugés et les stéréotypes sexuels, le statut social
et le niveau d’éducation, les différences culturelles
inhérentes à l’ethnie et les questions de migration (qui
impliquent non seulement des aptitudes linguistiques,
mais également des traditions et des règles d’hygiène),
les pratiques religieuses, les préjugés concernant
l’orientation sexuelle, la culture du travail.
Les variations géographiques dans la couverture
du territoire et la fourniture de services sont une
autre barrière significative à l’accès aux soins. La
prestation de services de soins est généralement
plus importante dans les grandes villes et les zones
à forte densité de population, alors qu’il manque des
praticiens généralistes ou des médecins de famille et
certains services spécialisés de base dans des petites
zones rurales et reculées. Par ailleurs, dans certains
cas, les hôpitaux sont souvent répartis de manière
inégale à travers les pays à cause de caractéristiques
géographiques (en raison de la présence d’îles ou de
montagnes). Toutefois, dans certains pays, les dispari­
tés sont le résultat de la décentralisation du processus
de prise de décision, permettant aux autorités
régionales et locales de mener une politique
discrétionnaire et autorisant des différences régionales
dans le financement. La distance jusqu’aux hôpitaux
et aux centres de soins et l’absence de moyens de
transport et d’équipements accessibles touchent en
Résumé
particulier les femmes (surtout celles vivant dans des
zones rurales ou montagneuses, les handicapées et
les femmes âgées), qui sont moins autonomes que
les hommes sur le plan de la mobilité (il est moins
fréquent que les femmes conduisent) et vivent un
plus grand nombre d’années à un âge avancé et en
mauvaise santé.
Les différences selon le sexe pour
l’accès aux soins de longue durée
Partout en Europe, il existe différentes dispositions
relatives aux SLD. Le mélange des types de prestation —
formelle/informelle, en espèces/en nature, soins en
institution/à domicile — varie selon les pays européens,
reflétant davantage les caractéristiques de l’organisation
propres à chaque système plutôt qu’une structure de
population et des développements démographiques.
En particulier, ces variations reflètent les différentes
approches nationales en matière de solidarité familiale
(incidence des soins informels et aide aux soignants). Au
cours des quinze dernières années, les pays européens
ont connu des réformes visant à effacer les inégalités
d’accès aux SLD et à améliorer la qualité des soins.
La question du sexe est significative si l’on considère
l’accès aux services de soins de longue durée, puisque
les femmes sont les principales fournisseuses de SLD,
en particulier des soins informels, et les principales
utilisatrices des services SLD, parce qu’elles vivent
plus longtemps que les hommes et sont donc plus
susceptibles de vivre seules à un âge avancé. Les
femmes les plus âgées sont souvent plus touchées
négativement que les hommes par la cotisation pour
l’accès aux SLD, introduite dans de nombreux pays, car
leur revenu moyen est inférieur à celui des hommes.
Aborder les inégalités entre les
sexes au niveau de l’accès aux
soins et aux soins de longue durée
L’analyse comparative exposée dans le présent rapport
a mis en lumière des questions importantes qui doivent
être abordées pour réduire les inégalités entre les sexes
au niveau de l’accès aux soins, et en particulier aux soins
de longue durée, et pour fournir des soins rentables et
de haute qualité.
Le plus important est la nécessité d’adopter une
perspective spécifique au sexe dans les politiques
de soins, en prenant en considération les facteurs
biologiques, économiques, sociaux et culturels qui
affectent l’état de santé des hommes et des femmes
et leur accès aux soins. Une approche des politiques
de soins fondée sur une analyse selon le sexe, abordant
des facteurs de risques liés au sexe dans la recherche
médicale, la fourniture de services (prenant en consi­
dération les politiques de promotion, de prévention
et de traitement) et la conception de systèmes de
financement, accroît l’efficacité des soins fournis
aux femmes et aux hommes et réduit les inégalités
d’accès, comme cela est montré dans certaines bonnes
pratiques présentées dans ce rapport.
La recherche en matière de santé basée sur le sexe
augmente les connaissances sur le fait que les facteurs
biologiques, sociaux, culturels et environnementaux
interagissent pour affecter la santé des femmes et
des hommes. La recherche médicale basée sur le sexe
accroît également l’attention des praticiens de la santé
sur les différences entre les sexes et aide à la fourniture
d’un traitement différencié selon le sexe, si nécessaire.
Par exemple, il est important que la recherche dans
le domaine des maladies cardiovasculaires prenne en
considération les différences en fonction du sexe dans
la morbidité et la mortalité et au niveau des réactions au
traitement. Les recherches et les pratiques en matière de
santé et de sécurité professionnelle devraient prendre
en compte les facteurs spécifiques au sexe, tels que les
différents risques auxquels les femmes et les hommes
s’exposent en raison d’une ségrégation professionnelle
selon le sexe et les risques pour la santé résultant de
l’emploi précaire, du travail à domicile et des travaux de
soins informels accomplis par les femmes.
La mise en œuvre de systèmes d’information sur la
santé sexuée et d’instruments d’analyse (tels que l’étude
d’impact de genre), améliorant la qualité de la collecte
et de l’analyse des données, est essentielle pour le
soutien de la recherche médicale et pour l’évaluation
et le contrôle systématique lié au sexe des systèmes de
soins.
La promotion du renforcement des capacités pour tenir
compte des besoins spécifiques des femmes et des
hommes dans les systèmes de soins et de la formation
spécifique au sexe pour les professionnels de la santé
est susceptible d’accroître l’attention accordée aux
différences entre les sexes dans la fourniture des
services et l’efficacité des services de soins.
La reconnaissance du rôle des femmes en tant
qu’utilisatrices et fournisseuses de soins à la fois à
l’intérieur et à l’extérieur du système de soins, en tant
que soignantes informelles et souvent non payées,
est importante lors de l’évaluation de l’impact sur
le genre des tendances récentes dans les réformes de
soins, en particulier en rapport avec le financement
et la fourniture de soins. Les tendances de la réforme
des soins, augmentant notamment l’incidence du
partage des coûts par des systèmes d’assurance privée
et de dépenses non remboursées, peuvent affecter
défavorablement les femmes plus que les hommes,
21
ACCESS TO HEALTHCARE AND LONG-TERM CARE: Equal for women and men?
puisqu’elles constituent la majorité des utilisateurs des
soins et des groupes à faibles revenus. Les dernières
tendances en matière de limitation des coûts et de
limitation dans la fourniture des soins de base inclus
dans les soins primaires sont également susceptibles
d’augmenter les inégalités de revenus et celles entre
les sexes si elles ne sont pas abordées de manière
adéquate. La rationalisation des services de soins
de santé qui, dans de nombreux pays, a réduit les
cliniques et les services locaux dans les zones rurales
ou moins peuplées et a réduit les ratios patient/
personnel médical peut avoir des effets négatifs sur
les femmes plus que sur les hommes, car les femmes
constituent la majorité des utilisateurs et fournisseurs
de soins de santé. Ces questions sont particulièrement
importantes en matière de soins de longue durée, où
le sexe joue un rôle encore plus important, puisque
les femmes sont les principales fournisseuses de soins
(formels et informels) et utilisatrices de ces soins.
Les mesures soutenant les systèmes de SLD ont des
effets importants sur le sexe. Des textes permettant de
22
dépasser les barrières pour l’accès aux SLD peuvent être
trouvés dans les États membres et sont présentés dans
ce rapport. Ils visent principalement: l’aide aux groupes
ayant de faibles revenus (aux Pays-Bas), l’amélioration
de la qualité des soins (en Allemagne, en Norvège et en
Roumanie) et l’aide aux fournisseurs informels de soins
(en Finlande et en Suède).
En conclusion, les éléments se dégageant de ce
rapport comparatif soulignent le besoin d’adopter
une approche intégrant le facteur sexe dans les
politiques de soins en vue d’améliorer leur efficacité.
Cela est d’autant plus important que la crise financière
et économique actuelle peut réduire les ressources
disponibles pour l’amélioration de la qualité et de
la couverture dans la prestation des soins, et en
particulier des SLD, avec des programmes pilotes
basés sur le sexe qui font face à de grands risques de
coupes budgétaires. Les pays d’Europe de l’Est, qui
sont dans un processus d’amélioration de la qualité et
de l’extension de leurs systèmes de soins, présentent
ce genre de risque.
Introduction
The 2007 Joint Report on Social Protection and
Social Inclusion underlined that while universal or
near universal rights (7) giving access to care can be
found in all Member States, this does not necessarily
translate into universal access and significant sources
of inequality remain (8). These include, amongst others,
lack of insurance coverage, lack of coverage/provision
of certain types of care, as well as high individual
financial care costs (9). The 2008 Joint Report stressed
that important steps are to increase population
coverage, address financial barriers to care, emphasise
promotion and prevention regarding curative care, and
address cultural barriers to the use of services (10).
Little is known about gender differences in accessing
healthcare and long-term care, and if and how
healthcare and long-term care systems take these into
account in service delivery. For example, while it has
been suggested that women are more likely than men
to engage in health-seeking behaviour and thus to
practise health prevention and promotion, there also
seems to be evidence that especially poor women (11)
may have more difficulties in accessing healthcare
services than men.
This comparative report examines how healthcare
and long-term care systems respond to the specific
Universal rights ensure that access does not depend on one’s
ability to pay, income or wealth and that the need for care does
not lead to poverty and financial dependency.
(8) European Commission (2007), Joint Report on Social Protection
and Social Inclusion, Supporting document, SEC(2007) 329,
Brussels. http://ec.europa.eu/employment_social/spsi/docs/social_
inclusion/2007/joint_report/sec_2007_329_en.pdf
(9) European Commission (2007), Joint Report on Social Protection
and Social Inclusion, Supporting document, SEC(2007) 329,
Brussels. http://ec.europa.eu/employment_social/spsi/docs/social_
inclusion/2007/joint_report/sec_2007_329_en.pdf
(10) Council of the European Union (2008), Joint Report on Social
Protection and Social Inclusion, Directorate-General for
Employment, Social Policy, Health and Consumer Affairs,
Brussels. http://register.consilium.europa.eu/pdf/en/08/st07/st07274.
en08.pdf
(11) European Institute of Women’s Health Report, Gender Equity
Conference, Conference of September 2000. http://www.eurohealth.ie/gender/index.htm
needs of women and men in ensuring equal access,
by assessing the main financial, cultural and physical
barriers to access and providing good-practice
examples of healthcare promotion, prevention and
general treatment programmes as well as of longterm care. The information in this report has mainly
been provided by the national experts of the EGGSI
network of experts in gender equality, social inclusion,
healthcare and long-term care and covers 30 European
countries (EU and EEA/EFTA) (12). Available comparative
statistical data from Eurostat and OECD sources have
also been considered.
The report is organised into four chapters: the first
summarises the main characteristics and trends in
the health status of women and men across Europe.
The second chapter addresses gender differences
in access to healthcare, first considering service
provisions in health promotion, prevention and
treatment, and, second analysing how financial,
cultural and geographical barriers may affect women
and men. The third chapter gives an overview
of existing service provisions for long-term care
and gender differences in access, together with a
discussion of the main barriers to access long-term
care services. The final chapter presents some overall
conclusions.
(7)
(12) EGGSI is the European Commission’s network of 30 national
experts (EU and EEA countries) in the fields of gender equality
and social inclusion, health and long-term care issues. The
network is coordinated by the Istituto per la Ricerca Sociale
and Fondazione Giacomo Brodolini, and undertakes an annual
programme of policy-oriented research and reports to the
Directorate-General for Employment, Social Affairs and Equal
Opportunities. http://eggsi.irs-online.it/
23
1. Main characteristics and
recent trends in the health
status of women and men
This chapter presents the main country specificities
in relation to gender differences in the health
status of the population in 30 European countries.
The analysis is mainly based on gender-relevant
Eurostat indicators in the field of health and longterm care, and on national data provided by the
EGGSI national reports.
1.1.Gender differences in life
expectancy and healthy life
years
In all European Member States, women live longer
than men. The longer life expectancy of women is
mainly explained by biological and genetic factors,
as well as by differences in health behaviour: men
take more health risks and are less conscious about
health than women (13).
Life expectancy at birth in the EU-27 has increased
over the past two decades with a gain in longevity
of about 4–5 years. According to Eurostat, in 2006
the average life expectancy was 82 years for women
and 76 for men. The increase in longevity, however,
is not the same among the EU countries: the highest
life expectancies are in Italy, Spain, Sweden, Norway,
(13) European Parliament (2007), Discrimination against women and
young girls in the health sector, Directorate-General Internal
Policies, by the European Institute of Women’s Health, Brussels.
http://www.europarl.europa.eu/sides/getDoc.do;jsessionid=42
D62CA22BDD5134ABE684A2B6C616BC.node1?pubRef=-//EP//
TEXT+TA+P6-TA-2007-0021+0+DOC+XML+V0//EN
Austria and Iceland, while the lowest life expectancies
(about 2–4 years below the EU-27 average) are in
Romania, Bulgaria, Hungary, Latvia and Lithuania.
Since women live longer than men, they are more
likely to experience more years of poor health: in all EU
countries, the percentage of healthy life years without
disability is lower for women than for men (Table 1-1).
Regarding the elderly, more women than men suffer
from long-standing illnesses or health problems.
Women experience more chronic ill health, distress and
disability, especially in old age, also due to their longer
life expectancy (14).
1.2.Self-perceived health
and disability
In all EU-25 countries and Iceland and Norway, men’s
self-perceived health is generally better than women’s
(very good and good), while more women consider
their health to be fair or in a bad/very bad condition
(Table 1-2).
EU-SILC was first launched in 2006 for Bulgaria and
Romania. However, data on self-perceived health for
Bulgaria and Romania are not available for the year 2006.
(14) Eurostat (2008), The life of women and men in Europe —
A statistical portrait, Luxembourg. http://epp.eurostat.ec.europa.eu/por tal/page?_
pageid=1073,46587259&_dad=portal&_schema=PORTAL&p_
product_code=KS-80-07-135
25
ACCESS TO HEALTHCARE AND LONG-TERM CARE: Equal for women and men?
Table 1‑1 — Life expectancy and healthy life years for EU-27, and Iceland and Norway, 2006
Life expectancy
Healthy life years
% of healthy life years
female
male
female
male
female
male
Austria
82.8
77.2
60.8
58.4
73.4
75.6
Belgium
82.3
76.6
62.8
62.8
76.3
82.0
Bulgaria
76.3
69.2
:
: : : Cyprus
82.4
78.8
63.2
64.3
76.7
81.6
Czech Republic
79.9
73.5
59.8
57.8
74.8
78.6
Denmark
80.7
76.1
67.1
67.7
83.1
89.0
Estonia
78.6
67.4
53.7
49.4
68.3
73.3
Finland
83.1
75.9
52.7
52.9
63.4
69.7
France
84.4
77.3
64.1
62.7
75.9
81.1
Germany
82.4
77.2
58.0
58.5
70.4
75.8
Greece
81.9
77.2
67.9
66.3
82.9
85.9
Hungary
77.8
69.2
57.0
54.2
73.3
78.3
Ireland
82.1
77.3
65.0
63.3
79.2
81.9
Italy (*)
83.8
77.9
70.2
67.9
83.8
87.2
Latvia
76.3
65.4
52.1
50.5
68.3
77.2
Lithuania
77.0
65.3
56.1
52.4
72.9
80.2
Luxembourg
81.9
76.8
61.8
61.0
75.5
79.4
Malta
81.9
77.0
69.2
68.1
84.5
88.4
Netherlands
82.0
77.7
63.2
65.0
77.1
83.7
Poland
79.7
70.9
62.5
58.2
78.4
82.1
Portugal
82.3
75.5
57.6
59.6
70.0
78.9
Romania
76.2
69.2
:
: : : Slovakia
78.4
70.4
54.4
54.3
69.4
77.1
Slovenia
82.0
74.5
61.0
57.6
74.4
77.3
Spain
84.4
77.7
63.3
63.7
75.0
82.0
Sweden
83.1
78.8
67.0
67.1
80.6
85.2
United Kingdom (*)
81.1
77.1
65.0
63.2
80.1
82.0
Iceland
82.9
79.5
65.3
68.3
78.8
85.9
Norway
82.9
78.2
63.4
65.7
76.5
84.0
Note: ‘:’ data not available.
(*) Data for Italy: 2004; Data for UK: 2005.
Source: European Commission, New common indicators from 2006 for the Open Method of Coordination
http://epp.eurostat.ec.europa.eu/portal/page/portal/health/public_health/main_tables
Indicator HC-P4a on Life Expectancy and HC-P5a on Healthy Life years, based on Eurostat data (EU-SILC)
EU-SILC was first launched in 2006 for Bulgaria and Romania. However, data on healthy life years for Bulgaria and Romania are not available
for the year 2006.
Explanatory note: life expectancy: Eurostat data on the mean number of years that a newborn child can expect to live if subject throughout life
to the current mortality conditions (age-specific probability of death). Healthy life years (HLY) is a health-expectancy indicator which combines
information on mortality and morbidity. The data considered are the age-specific prevalence (proportions) of the population in healthy and
unhealthy conditions and age-specific mortality information. A healthy condition is defined by the absence of limitations in functioning/disability.
The indicator is also called disability-free life expectancy (DFLE).
26
1. Main characteristics and recent trends in the health status of women and men
Table 1‑2 — Self-perceived health status of men and women,
for EU-25 and Iceland and Norway, 2006
Men
Very good/
good
EU-25
Austria
Women
Fair
Very bad/
bad
Very good/
good
Fair
Very bad/
bad
67.8
23.1
9.1
61.7
26.2
12.1
73.1
19.9
7.1
70.9
20.5
8.6
Belgium
77.9
15.2
6.9
70.9
19.4
9.7
Cyprus
79.1
13.0
7.8
73.3
15.8
10.8
Czech Republic
62.8
25.6
11.7
56.3
28.9
14.9
Denmark
77.6
15.9
6.5
72.6
18.4
9.0
Estonia
56.5
30.0
13.5
50.8
32.8
16.4
Finland
69.1
21.7
9.2
68.3
21.1
10.6
France
72.3
19.6
8.2
66.8
22.5
10.7
Germany
63.5
27.9
8.6
57.8
32.3
10.1
Greece
79.9
12.1
8.1
74.0
15.9
10.2
Hungary
52.2
30.8
17.1
44.9
32.0
23.1
Ireland
84.4
12.4
3.2
81.9
14.9
3.1
Italy
60.8
30.6
8.6
53.2
34.4
12.4
Latvia
47.5
37.2
15.4
36.1
41.1
22.8
Lithuania
48.8
36.9
14.3
38.9
39.7
21.4
Luxembourg
76.2
17.6
6.1
76.2
17.6
6.1
Malta
77.3
18.8
4.0
72.8
22.4
4.8
Netherlands
80.0
16.0
4.0
74.0
19.7
6.4
Poland
58.7
26.0
15.3
51.0
30.0
19.1
Portugal
53.3
30.8
15.8
43.4
32.8
23.8
Slovakia
56.8
28.8
14.3
48.2
30.6
21.2
Slovenia
59.6
26.3
14.1
53.3
29.4
17.3
Spain
71.3
18.5
10.2
64.8
21.1
14.2
Sweden
78.6
16.7
4.7
78.6
16.7
4.7
UK
78.1
16.2
5.8
75.3
17.5
7.2
Iceland
83.1
13.9
3.0
80.3
13.7
6.0
Norway
76.4
15.8
7.8
72.6
16.5
10.9
Source: Eurostat data on health status based on EU-SILC Survey, 2006.
EU-SILC was first launched in 2006 for Bulgaria and Romania. However, data on self-perceived health for Bulgaria and Romania are not available for
the year 2006.
27
ACCESS TO HEALTHCARE AND LONG-TERM CARE: Equal for women and men?
Slightly more women than men all over the EU-25
countries suffer from limitations in their everyday
activities because of chronic (long-standing) illnesses
or health problems (15). This difference may be the result
of different attitudes by women compared with men,
and is also influenced by a different self-perception
on the health status between women and men.
Psychological (such as self-esteem, social isolation,
and work overload due to family responsibilities)
and social determinants (such as the educational or
income level) are generally more important factors
influencing the health status of women, while
behavioural determinants (such as nutrition, exercise
and substance abuse) are more important for men.
Higher rates of accidents (traffic accidents, workrelated accidents) and violence-related mortality in
men seem to be due to differences in gender norms
regarding risk-taking.
According to Eurostat data on long-standing illness or
health problems (EU-SILC survey, 2006), it is estimated
that about 29.7 % of men and 34.2 % of women in the
EU-25 have a long-standing health problem or disability
(Figure 1-1).
Bulgaria and Romania launched SILC in 2006.
However, data on long-standing illness or health
problem for Bulgaria and Romania were not available
for the year 2006.
Explanatory note: The data on chronic (long-standing)
illnesses or conditions refer to the self-declaration by
the respondents regarding whether they have a chronic
(long-standing) illness or condition or not.
Differences among countries vary widely, but these data
may be also affected by social differences in the selfperception of one’s health and disability status. Notably,
the income of people who experience considerable
limitations (e.g. long-standing illness) was 22 % lower
than those of people without limitations. The wage
gap between men and women is also apparent here:
earnings of men who experience strong limitations
are 12 % lower, while of those women who experience
considerable limitations are 28 % lower than those of
people (both sexes) with no limitations (16).
1.3.Gender differences in health
risks and death by typology
of diseases
Differences in health risks behaviour exist between men
and women, starting from childhood. The literature
shows that in childhood and adolescence boys present
a higher mortality rate due to behaviour-generated
causes (suicide, drug abuse, traffic accidents, etc.) and
more physical and mental problems than girls (17).
Figure 1-1 — Long-standing illness or health problem by sex (%), 2006
50
Women
Men
40
30
20
10
Finland
Estonia
Germany
Latvia
UK
Hungary
Slovenia
Lithuania
Sweden
Netherlands
Norway
France
Poland
Portugal
Denmark
Czech Rep.
Cyprus
Slovakia
Ireland
Belgium
Iceland
Spain
Luxembourg
Italy
Austria
Malta
Greece
0
Source: Eurostat data based on EU-SILC survey.
Explanatory note: Bulgaria and Romania launched SILC in 2006, and are not included in the table. The data on chronic (long-standing) illnesses or
conditions refer to the self-declaration by the respondents regarding whether they have a chronic (long-standing) illness or condition or not.
(15) Based on Eurostat SILC survey.
28
(16) According to Eurostat data based on EU-SILC survey (2006).
(17) WHO (1999), Gender and Health in Adolescence, Health policy
for children and adolescents (HEPCA), series No 1. by Kolip, P.
and Schmidt, B., Copenhagen.
1. Main characteristics and recent trends in the health status of women and men
Overall, the main health problems of males are injuries
caused by traffic accidents (18). Young women suffer
especially from invisible health risks (such as excessive
medication use and dieting), sexual violence and
socioeconomic deprivation (since their economic
situation is generally less favourable than that of men),
with serious effects on their health status (19).
In the European countries, men tend to die earlier
than women, yet women tend to report higher
levels of ill health at all ages than men. The following
analysis will show the main differences in terms of
mortality, incidence, prevalence, and in some case
severity among women and men for the major
diseases and conditions.
Cardiovascular diseases
Overall in the European Union Member States, more
men than women die of cardiovascular diseases (CVD),
still the main natural cause of death for both women
and men. Although Member States register declining
mortality rates due to CVD, there is an increasing
number of people who live with CVD. This paradox is
due to increased life expectancy and improved CVD
patient survival. More people die from CVD than from
(all forms of ) cancer, with a higher percentage of
women (54 % of all causes of mortality during 2000–05)­
than men (43 % of all causes of mortality during
2000–05), and there is a higher mortality rate in lower
socioeconomic income groups (20).
Among cardiovascular diseases, coronary heart disease
(CHD) (21) is the leading cause of mortality in the EU,
accounting for over 741 000 deaths every year (one in
six men and over one in seven women) (22). A stroke is
the second leading cause of death in the EU, accounting
(18) WHO (1999), Gender and Health in Adolescence, Health policy
for children and adolescents (HEPCA), series No 1. by Kolip, P.
and Schmidt, B., Copenhagen, p. 13.
(19) See for instance on health behaviour: European Parliament
(2007), Discrimination against women and young girls in
the health sector, Directorate-General Internal Policies, by
the European Institute of Women’s Health, Brussels.
http://www.europarl.europa.eu/sides/getDoc.do;jsessionid=42
D62CA22BDD5134ABE684A2B6C616BC.node1?pubRef=-//EP//
TEXT+TA+P6-TA-2007-0021+0+DOC+XML+V0//EN
(20) Allender S., Scarborough, P., Peto, V., Rayner, M. (2008),
European cardiovascular disease statistics, British Heart
Foundation Health Promotion Research Group. Oxford.
http://www.ehnheart.org/files/statistics%202008%20web161229A.pdf
(21) Coronary heart disease (CHD) is a narrowing of the small blood
vessels that supply blood and oxygen to the heart. CHD is
also called coronary artery disease. Ischaemic heart disease is
related to a reduced coronary blood flow, often related to artery
diseases, which causes a lack of oxygen. Risk factors are related
to smoking, high cholesterol levels, or high blood pressure.
(22) Allender, S., Scarborough, P., Peto, V., Rayner, M. (2008), European
cardiovascular disease statistics, British Heart Foundation Health
Promotion Research Group, Oxford.
for 508 000 deaths each year: around one in 10 men
and one in eight women die from this disease; many
more suffer from non-fatal events (23).
In the 35–74 age group, CVD accounts for 34 % of total
mortality and ischaemic heart disease (IHD) for 15 % in
2000–05 (24). Mortality rates are higher for men than for
women, which increases in the older age groups. IHD
patterns showed a clear East–West gradient with the
highest mortality rates in the Baltic and eastern European
member countries. The rates vary from 42.7 deaths per
100 000 in France (72 male and 16 female) to 327 deaths
per 100 000 in Latvia (555 men and 167 women) (25).
Cancer
The most frequent types of cancer and causes of cancerrelated mortality for women are breast cancer, colon
and lung cancer, and for men prostate cancer (26). The
increase of the incidence of lung cancer and mortality
in women, compared to the decrease in men, is due to
the growing number of smokers among women.
In 2006, 3.2 million new cases and 1.7 million deaths
were estimated for all types of cancer all around
Europe. The highest incidence rates in 2006 were in
western European countries for men (482 new cases
per 100 000) and in northern European countries for
women (351 new cases per 100 000), while the highest
mortality rates were reported in the eastern European
Member States for men (287 deaths per 100 000) and
in the northern European Member States for women
(155 deaths per 100 000) (27). The countries with the
highest mortality rates for men were Hungary (337.1
deaths per 100 000), Estonia (302.1), Lithuania and
Latvia (299.4 and 299.3), and for women Hungary (172.9
deaths per 100 000), Czech Republic (163.1), Ireland
(15.89), Poland (154.8) and the Netherlands (145.3) (28).
(23) The main forms of CVD are coronary heart disease (CHD) and
stroke. Just under half of all deaths from CVD are from CHD and
nearly a third are from stroke. European Heart Network, European
cardiovascular disease statistics, 2008 edition, Brussels.
(24) Allender, S., Scarborough, P., Peto, V., Rayner, M. (2008), European
cardiovascular disease statistics, British Heart Foundation Health
Promotion Research Group, Oxford.
(25) Allender, S., Scarborough, P., Peto, V., Rayner, M. (2008), European
cardiovascular disease statistics, British Heart Foundation Health
Promotion Research Group, Oxford.
(26) Curado, M.P. et al. (2008), Cancer Incidence in Five Continents,
Vol. IX, IARC Scientific Publications No 160, Lyon.
(27) Eugloreh (2009), The Status of Health in the European Union:
Towards a healthier Europe, 2009, EU Public Health Programme
project, Global Report on the health status in the European Union.
http://www.intratext.com/ixt/_EXT-rep/_INDEX.HTM#-.1
(28) Eurostat data based on national information derived from the
medical certificate of cause of death.
29
ACCESS TO HEALTHCARE AND LONG-TERM CARE: Equal for women and men?
Incidence rates are increasing both in men and in
women in all the European macro-areas (northern,
western, eastern and southern Europe). On the contrary,
mortality is decreasing for men (with the exception of
the eastern EU countries) and is decreasing or constant
for women. The countries with the highest incidence
rates were Hungary for men (599 new cases per
100 000) and Denmark for women (414 new cases per
100 000) (29).
Women generally have a better survival rate than men.
Countries with 5-year relative survival higher than
40 % for men and 55 % for women were the northern
countries (Finland, Sweden, Iceland and Norway),
Austria, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Italy and
Spain. Denmark and the UK have lower survival rates
than other EU countries with similar GDP, both for men
and women. Lower levels of survival were also reported
in the eastern European Member States (30).
The prognosis for breast cancer is relatively good,
with 5-year relative survival rate exceeding 75 %
in most countries of western Europe. In Finland,
Sweden, France and Italy survival was ≥80 %. England,
Scotland, Wales, Denmark, Malta and Portugal had
5-year age-standardised survival of just above 70 %.
On the contrary, low breast cancer survival was seen
in eastern Europe (Estonia, Poland, Slovakia and
Slovenia), with 5-year relative survival rate between
60 and 67 % (31).
Survival after breast cancer has improved steadily
in all European countries since the nineties, but at
different rates. Improvements were more marked
for western Europe than in the Nordic countries
(Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden)
where survival rates were already high for patients
diagnosed in the 1980s. As a result, the gap between
breast cancer survival rates in the Nordic countries
and western Europe has greatly narrowed. There
is some evidence of a more rapid improvement in
survival in the UK, with a gradual reduction of the
survival deficit relative to other western European
countries. Conversely, improvements in survival were
less evident in eastern European countries; actually,
the gap between eastern and western European
countries has increased.
(29) Eugloreh (2009), The Status of Health in the European Union:
Towards a healthier Europe, 2009.
(30) Eugloreh (2009), The Status of Health in the European Union:
Towards a healthier Europe, 2009.
(31) Eugloreh (2009), The Status of Health in the European Union:
Towards a healthier Europe, 2009.
30
Mental diseases and disorders
The incidence of mental illness, depression and anxiety
disorders is higher for women, while alcohol and
addiction disorders are more common for men (32).
There are gender-specific risk factors for some common
mental disorders. Women are at much greater risk of
experiencing domestic abuse than men; this can lead
to high rates of anxiety and depression, symptoms
of post-traumatic stress, and subsequent difficulty in
establishing and maintaining relationships. Women
living in poverty and women from minority groups are
at a higher risk for victimisation by violence. Similarly,
women living on a low income for an extended period
can experience stress, difficulty in personal and family
relationships and be left feeling isolated and depressed.
Individuals most at risk for social isolation and anxiety
are single mothers and retired women living alone (33).
Women’s social roles as primary carers for children and/
or other dependants can result in ‘role overload’, where
women assume both professional and household/
child-bearing responsibilities. This contributes to so­
cial isolation and further impacts on mental health.
Moreover, women are more likely to approach their
primary care physician for help. Men are more likely
to seek specialist mental healthcare and are the main
users of inpatient care (34).
Women are also more likely to be prescribed moodaltering psychotropic drugs than men (35). This is
probably because physicians are more likely to diagnose
depression in women than in men, even when they have
similar scores on standardised measures of depression,
or present identical symptoms (36). There may also be
differences in accessing specific treatments such as
psychotherapy or anti-depressant (37).
Only cardiovascular disease has a greater toll on
morbidity and mortality than depression.
The mortality rate for suicide and intentional self-harm
varies considerably between the EU Member States
(EU-25 average in 2006 is 16.3 for men and 4.6 for
women per 100 000) (38). Eurostat data indicates that
(32) Eugloreh (2009), The Status of Health in the European Union:
Towards a healthier Europe, 2009.
(33) Eugloreh (2009), The Status of Health in the European Union:
Towards a healthier Europe, 2009.
(34) WHO website on Gender and women’s mental health.
http://www.who.int/mental_health/prevention/genderwomen/en/
(35) WHO (2000), Women’s Mental Health — an evidence based
review, Geneva.
http://whqlibdoc.who.int/hq/2000/WHO_MSD_MDP_00.1.pdf
(36) Eugloreh (2009), The Status of Health in the European Union:
Towards a healthier Europe, 2009.
(37) WHO website on Gender and women’s mental health.
http://www.who.int/mental_health/prevention/genderwomen/en
(38) Eurostat data based on information derived from the medical
certificate of cause of death of each country.
1. Main characteristics and recent trends in the health status of women and men
the highest mortality rates for suicide and intentional
self-harm among the Member States is found in
Lithuania (men 52.7 and women 9.3), Hungary (men
36.5 and women 9.3), Latvia (men 36.6 and women 5.1),
Slovenia (men 38.2 and women 9.2) and Finland (29.4
and 8.9). Respectively, the lowest rates were observed
in Cyprus (3.1 and 1.8), Greece (5.1 and 1.1), Malta (10
and 2.2), Italy (8.3 and 2.3) and Spain (10 and 2.8), and
for women also in Slovakia (2.3) (39). As regards gender,
in both the 15–64 and 65+ age groups, women in all
countries have much lower suicide mortality rates
compared to men (40).
status (45). Women are often more unaware of the risks
of HIV infection, do not have information on the ways
to protect themselves (and methods of contraception),
and might lack access to methods of contraception,
prevention and care services. In Europe, over 41 % of
the population still does not take precautions during
sexual intercourse (46). The groups with the highest risk
are people with limited social standing or economic
security, or those who are involved in coercive or
abusive relationships (47).
Sexually transmitted diseases
and HIV infection
Smoking and alcohol consumption are widely dispersed
in European countries and are among the major
causes of death. Smoking is the single largest cause of
avoidable death, and every year about 650 000 people
die from it. Nearly 25 % of cancer deaths and 15 % of all
deaths are related to tobacco-related diseases, such as
lung cancer and other specific diseases. Approximately
one third of EU citizens smoke, and one fifth of people
aged 15–25 smoke every day (48).
Women (especially very young women) are more
vulnerable to sexually transmitted diseases compared
to men and the consequences are more serious for
them (41). Since many sexually transmitted diseases are
asymptomatic in women, they often go untreated and
the presence of untreated sexually transmitted diseases
is a risk factor for HIV.
In Europe every year there are about 25 000 newly
diagnosed cases of HIV and heterosexual transmission
is responsible for 50 % of the cases (42). Over a third
of the cases (36 %) of HIV infection were registered
in women (2005) (43). Some 13 % of the cases were in
young people between 15–24 years of age. Women
are more likely to be at risk of HIV infections due to
biological reasons (44) than men, but in some countries
also due to their unequal economic, social or cultural
(39) Eurostat data based on national information derived from the
medical certificate of cause of death.
(40) Eugloreh (2009), The Status of Health in the European Union:
Towards a healthier Europe, 2009, EU Public Health Programme
project, Global Report on the health status in the European Union.
(41) European Parliament (2007), Discrimination against women and
young girls in the health sector, Directorate-General Internal
Policies, by the European Institute of Women’s Health, Brussels.
http://www.europarl.europa.eu/sides/getDoc.do;jsessionid=42
D62CA22BDD5134ABE684A2B6C616BC.node1?pubRef=-//EP//
TEXT+TA+P6-TA-2007-0021+0+DOC+XML+V0//EN
(42) European Commission (2007), Healthier together in the
European Union, Luxembourg.
(43) EuroHIV (2006), HIV/AIDS Surveillance in Europe, End-Year
report 2005, No 73, European Centre for the Epidemiological
Monitoring of HIV/AIDS WHO and UN AIDS Collaborating Centre
on HIV/AIDS, Saint-Maurice. http://www.eurohiv.org/reports/report_72/pdf/report_
eurohiv_72.pdf
(44) Women are more likely to get HIV during vaginal intercourse for
several biological reasons: 1. the lining of the vagina provides
a large area, which can be exposed to HIV-infected semen; 2.
semen has higher levels of HIV than vaginal fluids do; 3. more
semen is exchanged during sexual intercourse than vaginal
fluids; 4. having untreated sexually transmitted infections (STIs)
makes it more likely for women to get HIV. http://www.womenshealth.gov
Smoking and alcohol consumption
The number of smokers has decreased over the last
five years (by nearly 10 %), but gender differences
persist: it has decreased among men, but increased
among women; however, women still smoke less
frequently than men, starting in adolescence.
In some countries, prevalence rates among girls are
higher than for boys (Denmark, Germany, and Spain) (49).
Girls are more likely than boys to start and continue
smoking because they think that it might control
weight gain. Smoking may have particularly adverse
effects on girls’ future health, as it may interact with oral
contraceptives and this is thought to increase the risk of
cardiovascular disease and affect reproductive health.
(45) European Parliament (2007), Discrimination against women and
young girls in the health sector, Directorate-General Internal
Policies, by the European Institute of Women’s Health, Brussels.
http://www.europarl.europa.eu/sides/getDoc.do;jsessionid=42
D62CA22BDD5134ABE684A2B6C616BC.node1?pubRef=-//EP//
TEXT+TA+P6-TA-2007-0021+0+DOC+XML+V0//EN
(46) European Commission (2007), Healthier together in the
European Union, Luxembourg.
(47) Eugloreh (2009), The Status of Health in the European Union:
Towards a healthier Europe, 2009, EU Public Health Programme
project, Global Report on the health status in the European Union.
(48) European Commission (2007), Healthier together in the
European Union, Luxembourg.
(49) European Parliament (2007), Discrimination against women and
young girls in the health sector, Directorate-General Internal
Policies, by the European Institute of Women’s Health, Brussels.
http://www.europarl.europa.eu/sides/getDoc.do;jsessionid=42
D62CA22BDD5134ABE684A2B6C616BC.node1?pubRef=-//EP//
TEXT+TA+P6-TA-2007-0021+0+DOC+XML+V0//EN
31
ACCESS TO HEALTHCARE AND LONG-TERM CARE: Equal for women and men?
There is a strong association between educational level
and rate of decline in the prevalence of smoking: smoking
is declining only among more highly educated women,
and increasing among lower-educated women, who
also tend to be more addicted (50). This trend is likely to
create (in southern Europe) or further widen (in northern
Europe) the gap in smoking between higher and lowereducated women. In the EU-10 countries, the number of
regular smokers is higher than the EU-15 level (51) .
Work-related diseases and work accidents
Alcohol consumption is a more complex health-risk
factor. It is estimated that more than 55 million adults
drink at harmful levels. Younger population groups
are at high risk, also due to social reasons (such as
acceptance by peers). Harmful consumption of alcohol
is responsible for approximately 195 000 deaths in
the EU, related to liver damage, heart disease, mouth
and throat cancer, as well as traffic accidents. This is
especially the case in younger age groups, usually
prevalent in (young) men: among men aged 15–29,
more than one death in four is caused by alcohol, while
this figure is one in 10 for women (52). It is possible,
however, that women are under-represented in the
statistics on alcohol abuse, because they feel more
stigmatised by alcohol-related problems and do not
respond to survey questions.
Eurostat data indicates that serious accidents and
fatal accidents at work have decreased in most of
the European countries (54). In general, men are more
exposed to work-related (serious) accidents and
injuries than women, because men predominate in
sectors where job-related risks/hazards are higher and
do more full-time work. In addition, in all countries,
men are much more prone to fatal accidents than
women (55).
The consumption pattern also shows differences
according to income groups. Eurobarometer data
suggests that in lower income groups, excessive alcohol
consumption is more frequent in men in all countries,
while for women it may vary according to the country.
Excessive alcohol consumption is also a problem in
some Nordic countries (such as Denmark and Finland)
and Ireland, the UK and Austria, and in several eastern
European countries (such as Lithuania, Latvia) and
Greece (53).
(50) European Parliament (2007), Discrimination against women and
young girls in the health sector, Directorate-General Internal
Policies, by the European Institute of Women’s Health, Brussels.
http://www.europarl.europa.eu/sides/getDoc.do;jsessionid=42
D62CA22BDD5134ABE684A2B6C616BC.node1?pubRef=-//EP//
TEXT+TA+P6-TA-2007-0021+0+DOC+XML+V0//EN
(51) Mackenbach, J.P., et al. (2008), Socioeconomic Inequalities
in Health in 22 European Countries, Special Article for the
European Union Working Group on Socioeconomic Inequalities
in Health, New England Journal of Medicine, June 5, 2008. http://content.nejm.org/cgi/reprint/358/23/2468.pdf
(52) European Commission (2007), Healthier together in the
European Union, Luxembourg European Commission (2007),
Healthier together in the European Union, Luxembourg.
(53) European Commission (2007), Health and long-term care in the
European Union, Special Eurobarometer, 283. http://ec.europa.eu/public_opinion/archives/ebs/ebs_283_
en.pdf
32
There is very little research and awareness of gender
differences in work-related diseases. The still strong
occupational gender segregation in the European
labour market, however, means that women and men
are exposed to different work-related health risks, and
this is still little recognised in the European and national
approaches to occupational safety and health.
Work-related diseases more common in women are
asthma and allergies. Women also suffer more skin
diseases and are more exposed to infectious diseases,
particularly in the care and education sectors (56). Given
the prevalence of women working at home, more
women are affected by accidents at home than men.
1.4.Gender differences in
mortality rates
Differences in mortality rates exist between men and
women not only with respect to different diseases (as
it is shown in paragraph 1.3.), but also with respect to
infant mortality, maternal mortality and deaths due to
external causes and accidents.
(54) This refers to accidents resulting in more than 3 days of absence
and fatal accidents at work. Available data from Eurostat
refers to 1994–2002. Source: Eurostat (2004), Serious and fatal
accidents at work decreasing in the EU. http://epp.eurostat.ec.europa.eu/cache/ITY_PUBLIC/328042004-AP/EN/3-28042004-AP-EN.HTML
(55) Eurostat data for 2005 on the incidence rate per 100 000
workers of occupational disease indicates that 59.4 women
and 94.2 men are affected (Data refer to the countries Belgium,
Denmark, Spain, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Austria,
Portugal, Finland, Sweden and the United Kingdom, and
includes occupational diseases and occupational death related
to occupational disease). Source: Eurostat data based on the
European Occupational Diseases Statistics (EODS).
http://epp.eurostat.ec.europa.eu/portal/page/portal/product_
details/dataset?p_product_code=HSW_OD_NDSA
(56) European Agency for Safety and Health at Work (2003), Gender
issues in safety and health at work, A review, Luxembourg,
2003. Fagan, C., Burchell, B. (2002), Gender, jobs and working
conditions in the European Union, European Foundation for the
Improvement of Living and Working Conditions, Dublin.
http://www.eurofound.europa.eu/pubdocs/2002/49/en/1/
ef0249en.pdf
1. Main characteristics and recent trends in the health status of women and men
Infant and adolescent mortality
Gender differences in mortality rates occur from
childhood onwards. The infant mortality rate is higher
for boys in all EU countries apart from Ireland, Cyprus
and Luxembourg. The proportion of deaths in the
EU-27 among babies in their first year was 4.8 per 1 000
live births for boys and 3.9 per 1 000 live births for girls
(2004) (57).
Deaths among boys aged 5–14 are slightly more
frequent than among girls in most EU-27 Member
States, with 14 deaths per 100 000 for boys relative
to 11 per 100 000 for girls in the EU in 2005. Only in
Cyprus, Iceland, Malta and Slovenia are the mortality
rates for girls slightly higher than for boys. Apart from
Bulgaria, Cyprus, Latvia, Lithuania and Romania, the
mortality rate for boys was under 30 per 100 000 in the
EU Member States (58).
than anywhere else) and five times higher in Lithuania
(because of a higher rate for men) (59).
Maternal mortality
The average maternal mortality ratio in the EU has
declined from about 20 maternal deaths per 100 000 live
births in the early 1980s to 7 deaths per 100 000 in 2004 (60).
The most significant decline has been observed in
Romania, which had the highest ratio in Europe,
between 140 and 160 per 100 000 in the 1980s.
According to the EGGSI national report, after the
liberalisation of abortion (61), the ratio declined to 26 per
100 000 in the 2002–04 period, still the highest among
the EU Member States. The three Baltic countries also
had relatively high ratios in the 1990s, but their ratios
have declined (especially in Latvia and Lithuania).
Deaths among young men increase above the age of
20: the mortality rate of young men in the 20–24 age
group is at least 2.5 times higher than the rate for
women in all EU-25 countries, except the Netherlands
and Sweden, and it is more than four times higher in
Poland and Malta (in Poland because of a higher rate
for men and in Malta because of a lower rate for women
Data reported in Table 1-3 show an increasing trend
towards higher rates of caesarean sections in EU-25 and
Norway. Caesarean delivery is associated with increased
morbidity among mothers and requires longer and more
costly lengths of hospital stay (62). These data also illustrate
the large variation between EU countries in the use of
caesarean sections, which ranges from about 150 per
1 000 live births to 300 per 1 000 live births.
(57) Data presented in Euro-Peristat (2008), European Perinatal
Health Report, Project coordinated by the Assistance PubliqueHôpitaux de Paris (AP-HP) and the Institut de la santé et de la
recherche médicale (Inserm).
http://www.europeristat.com/publications/europeanperinatal-health-report.shtml
(58) Eurostat (2008), The life of women and men in Europe — A
statistical portrait, Luxembourg. http://epp.eurostat.ec.europa.
eu/portal/page?_pageid=1073,46587259&_dad=portal&_
schema=PORTAL&p_product_code=KS-80-07-135
(59) Eurostat (2009), Health statistics — Atlas on mortality in the
European Union, Luxembourg.
http://epp.eurostat.ec.europa.eu/cache/ITY_OFFPUB/KS-30-08357/EN/KS-30-08-357-EN.PDF
(60) Euro-Peristat (2008), European Perinatal Health Report, Project
coordinated by the Assistance Publique-Hôpitaux de Paris (AP-HP)
and the Institut de la santé et de la recherche médicale (Inserm).
(61) European Observatory on Health Systems and Policies (2008),
Healthcare systems in transition, Vol. 10, No 3, Romania Health
System Review.
(62) Deneux-Tharaux, C., Carmona, E., Bouvier-Colle, M.-H., Bréart, G.
(2006), Post partum mortality and Caesarean delivery, Obstet
Gynecol. No 108, pp. 541–548.
33
ACCESS TO HEALTHCARE AND LONG-TERM CARE: Equal for women and men?
Amniotic fluid
embolism
Other
thromboembolism
Complications of
hypertension
Haemorrhage
Sepsis chorioamnitis
Ectopic abortion
Anaesthetic
Uterine rupture
Other direct obstetric
causes
Other indirect
obstetric causes
Unknown
Total
Country/Region
No of deaths
Table 1-3 — Distribution of maternal deaths according
to obstetric causes (in %) by country, in 2003–04
5
2
19
0.0
50.0
15.8
0.0
0.0
21.1
20.0
0.0
0.0
0.0
50.0
10.5
20.0
0.0
5.3
0.0
0.0
0.0
0.0
0.0
0.0
0.0
0.0
5.3
0.0
0.0
15.8
20.0
0.0
21.1
40.0
0.0
5.3
100
100
100
43
8
4.7
12.5
7.0
12.5
2.3
0.0
7.0
25.0
0.0
12.5
0.0
0.0
0.0
0.0
0.0
0.0
16.3
37.5
16.3
0.0
46.5
0.0
100
100
4
107
17
0.0
14.0
5.9
0.0
14.0
5.9
25.0
14.0
5.9
0.0
17.8
17.6
50.0
2.8
11.8
0.0
8.4
5.9
0.0
0.9
5.9
0.0
0.9
23.5
25.0
15.0
5.9
0.0
8.4
5.9
0.0
3.7
5.9
100
100
100
5
6
20.0
0.0
20.0
16.7
0.0
16.7
0.0
0.0
0.0
0.0
0.0
0.0
0.0
0.0
0.0
16.7
0.0
50.0
60.0
0.0
0.0
0.0
100
100
14
0
32
10
31
0.0
14.3
0.0
14.3
35.7
0.0
0.0
0.0
0.0
28.6
7.1
100
0.0
10.0
12.9
12.5
10.0
3.2
12.5
20.0
6.5
9.4
0.0
38.7
9.4
0.0
9.7
0.0
0.0
12.9
0.0
0.0
0.0
0.0
0.0
0.0
3.1
10.0
16.1
34.4
50.0
NA
18.8
0.0
0.0
100
100
100
4
0.0
25.0
0.0
50.0
0.0
0.0
0.0
0.0
0.0
25.0
0.0
100
9
11.1
0.0
11.1
11.1
0.0
0.0
11.1
11.1
22.2
22.2
0.0
100
108
13.9
8.3
9.3
5.6
5.6
9.3
0.9
0.0
25.0
22.2
0.0
100
425
10.6
10.4
9.2
13.2
6.4
5.6
0.9
1.9
16.7
16.9
8.2
100
Belgium
Flanders
Brussels
Czech Republic
Denmark
Germany
Estonia
Ireland
Greece
Spain
Valencia
France
Italy
Cyprus
Latvia
Lithuania
Luxembourg
Hungary
Malta
Netherlands
Austria
Poland
Portugal
Slovenia
Slovakia
Finland
Sweden
United Kingdom
Norway
Total of data provided
to Europeristat
Source: Euro-Peristat (2008), European Perinatal Health Report, Project coordinated by the Assistance Publique-Hôpitaux de Paris (AP-HP) and the
Institut de la santé et de la recherche médicale (Inserm), p. 101.
Explanatory note: Countries were asked to report the number of deaths that corresponded to the ICD-10 codes for the following causes: amniotic
fluid embolism, other thromboembolic causes, hypertension, haemorrhage, chorioamnionitis/sepsis, abortion/ectopic pregnancy, anaesthesia,
uterine rupture, other direct causes, indirect causes, or unknown cause. The availability of the data generally depends on what information is
written on death certificates and how this is coded by the national statistics office responsible for processing data from death certificates.
A maternal death is usually the consequence of a series of unexpected obstetric complications and possibly also adverse social circumstances
which in combination lead to the death of a woman who is generally young and in good health. As a result, the choice of the underlying cause
and therefore its coding (attribution of the appropriate digit code of the ICD) is not easy and differs from one country to another.
N.B.: Data for Ireland, Denmark, Greece, Cyprus, Portugal, Luxembourg, Sweden, Norway are not available.
34
1. Main characteristics and recent trends in the health status of women and men
Deaths due to external causes and accidents
In the EU-27 external causes of death are relevant for
6.9 % of men and 3.5 % of women, of which two thirds
are caused by unintentional injuries (63). Among deaths
due to external causes versus illnesses/diseases, more
men than women die from accidents (such as road or
transport accidents) or non-illness related causes (such
as suicide or self-inflicted injuries). This incidence,
however, varies by country.
Table 1‑4 — Death due to accidents and
transport accidents by sex in some European
countries and Iceland and Norway, 2006 (*)
Bulgaria
Czech Republic
Germany
Estonia
Ireland
Greece
Spain
Italy
Cyprus
Latvia
Lithuania
Hungary
Malta
Netherlands
Austria
Poland
Portugal
Romania
Slovenia
Slovakia
Finland
Sweden
Iceland
Norway
Accidents
men
women
48.5
13.0
48.6
18.0
24.0
10.7
130.8
28.8
25.8
10.8
43.2
10.1
33.1
10.7
32.0
12.3
39.9
17.6
162.3
39.4
169.6
41.5
63.0
19.7
22.5
13.0
20.2
10.9
35.2
13.2
60.9
17.1
29.9
8.3
64.4
18.9
57.1
18.5
63.7
14.3
70.7
23.4
30.2
12.1
39.8
19.0
39.7
18.2
Transport accidents
men
women
19.7
6.6
15.5
4.5
9.4
3.0
28.2
7.1
9.9
3.1
24.4
5.1
15.0
4.0
15.8
3.8
18.5
3.6
30
8.1
40.1
12.6
24.7
5.9
4.4
0.6
6.7
2.5
12.7
3.9
21.9
5.8
15.8
3.8
23.8
7.1
23.0
4.4
23.5
5.7
12.4
3.3
8.1
2.6
17.5
8.2
8.7
2.7
(*) Standardised death rate by 100 000 inhabitants
Source: Eurostat data based on EU-SILC survey
Explanatory note: The (age-) standardised death rate is a weighted
average of age-specific mortality rates. The weighting factor is the age
distribution of a standard reference population. The standard reference
population used is the European standard population as defined by
the World Health Organisation (WHO). As method for standardisation,
the direct method is applied. Standardised death rates are calculated
for the age group 0–64 (‘premature death’) and for the total of ages. As
most causes of death vary significantly with people’s age and sex, the
use of standardised death rates improves comparability over time and
between countries.
(63) Eurostat (2009), Health statistics — Atlas on mortality in the
European Union.
http://epp.eurostat.ec.europa.eu/cache/ITY_OFFPUB/KS-30-08357/EN/KS-30-08-357-EN.PDF
Transport accidents, especially road traffic accidents,
are the major cause of death of young people and
especially young men. Young men in the 15–19 and
20–24 age groups have much higher mortality due to
external causes than women of the same age groups in
all European countries. This tendency also remains in
the older age groups (64). When compared to women,
well over twice as many men among those aged 65–
74 die from external causes — around 92 per 100 000
against 37. In both cases, some 18 % were killed in
road or other transport accidents. Although these
figures vary substantially between Member States, in
all of them men in all ages were much more likely to be
involved in fatal accidents than women.
1.5.The impact of income and
social inequalities on gender
differences in health status
Education and income levels are relevant factors in
influencing a person’s health status and access to
healthcare. According to a study by Menvielle, men and
women with less education have higher death rates
from all types of cancer, except for breast cancer where
a higher mortality is generally observed among moreeducated women (65).
In all countries with available data, mortality due
to cardiovascular disease is higher among men and
women with lower socioeconomic positions (66). This
does not, however, apply to all specific diseases of the
cardiovascular system. Of these, ischaemic heart disease
(myocardial infarction) and cerebro-vascular disease
(stroke) are the most important. Whereas mortality
from stroke is always higher in the lower socioeconomic
groups, this is not the case for ischaemic heart disease.
Deaths caused by cancer also show inequalities among
different socioeconomic groups, but the differences
are less marked than for cardiovascular disease. Among
men, lung, larynx, oropharyngeal, oesophageal, and
stomach cancers occur more frequently in lower
socioeconomic groups. Among women, this applies to
oesophageal, stomach and cervical cancer (67).
(64) Eurostat (2008), The life of women and men in Europe, A
statistical portrait, Luxembourg.
(65) See among others: Menvielle, G., et al. (2008), Educational
differences in cancer mortality among women and men: a
gender pattern that differs across Europe, British Journal of
Cancer (2008) 98: 1012–1019.
(66) Cfr. among others Mackenbach, J.P., et al. (2008), Socioeconomic
Inequalities in Health in 22 European Countries, Special Article for
the European Union Working Group on Socioeconomic Inequalities
in Health, New England Journal of Medicine, June 5, 2008.
http://content.nejm.org/cgi/reprint/358/23/2468.pdf
(67) Menvielle, G, et al. (2008), Educational differences in cancer
mortality among women and men: a gender pattern that differs
across Europe, British Journal of Cancer, 98(5): 1012–1019.
35
ACCESS TO HEALTHCARE AND LONG-TERM CARE: Equal for women and men?
On the other hand, some cancers have a higher
incidence in higher socioeconomic groups: colon
and brain cancer and skin melanoma in men, and
colon, breast and ovary cancer and skin melanoma
in women (68). In terms of cancer prevalence, there
are no differences among social classes. But lower
socioeconomic classes present shorter survival rates.
Actually there is extensive evidence for socioeconomic
inequalities in cancer survival: most studies show
a survival advantage in patients with a higher
socioeconomic position.
Risk groups for suicide are above all people with mental
disorders, including substance use disorders. 90 % of
suicides are associated with mental disorders, mostly
with mood disorders like depression (60 % of suicides)
but also with alcohol-use disorders (69). Risk groups also
include those persons with severe somatic illnesses,
the socially disadvantaged, those suffering from recent
loss (i.e. persons who lost a family member, or a job),
and immigrants (70).
‘too expensive’ is more than twice as high compared to
the EU-27 (71).
Figure 1-2, taken from a recent comparative study,
shows the relative inequalities in the death rate from all
causes according to education level (which is strongly
correlated with income level) in a study carried out in
22 Member States (72). The relative inequality index (73)
is greater than 1 for both men and women in all
countries, indicating that throughout Europe mortality
is higher among those with less education. The
magnitude of these inequalities varies substantially
among countries. For example, in Sweden, the relative
index of inequality for men is less than 2, indicating that
mortality among those with a lower level of education
is less than twice that among those with the highest
education; on the other hand, in Hungary, the Czech
Republic and Poland, the relative index of inequality
for men is 4 or higher, indicating that mortality differs
by a factor of more than 4 between the lower and
upper ends of the education scale.
Socioeconomic factors explain low-health status, with
some disadvantages for men (accidents, disability rates)
or for women (self-perceived health status). In Greece,
Hungary, Lithuania, Poland and Cyprus, the probability
of perceiving unmet medical needs because they are
Figure 1-3 shows the relative inequalities in the
prevalence of poorer, self-assessed health (weighted on
the basis of the burden of chronic disease (74)), according
to education and income levels. The relative index of
inequality is greater than 1 in all countries, indicating
worse perceived health in groups of lower socio­
economic status in the countries studied. The variation
of this measure among countries is considerably less
than that of inequalities in the rate of death from all
causes, and the international pattern also tends to be
different from that of death from any cause.
(68) Mackenbach, J. (2006), Health Inequalities: Europe in Profile,
Rotterdam. http://ec.europa.eu/health/ph_determinants/socio_
economics/documents/ev_060302_rd06_en.pdf
(69) Wahlbeck, K., Makinen, M. (eds.) (2008), Prevention of depression
and suicide, Consensus paper, Luxembourg.
http://ec.europa.eu/health/ph_determinants/life_style/
mental/docs/consensus_depression_en.pdf
(70) Several studies have shown, that immigrants have a higher
risk in suicide relative to people of their countries of origin
and relative to the native population of the host country. See
for instance Hjern, A., Allebeck, P. (2002), Suicide in first- and
second-generation immigrants in Sweden — A comparative
study, In: Soc Psychiatry Psychiatr Epidemiol (2002) 37: 423–429.
http://www.springerlink.com/content/7w74l3xwtx7m3w8a/
fulltext.pdf?page=1
(71) Eurostat (2009), Perception of health and access to healthcare
in the EU-25 in 2007, by Baert, K. and de Norre, B., Statistics in
Focus, No 24/2009, Luxembourg. http://epp.eurostat.ec.europa.eu/cache/ITY_OFFPUB/KSSF-09-024/EN/KS-SF-09-024-EN.PDF
(72) Mackenbach, J.P., et al. (2008), Socioeconomic Inequalities
in Health in 22 European Countries, Special Article for the
European Union Working Group on Socioeconomic Inequalities
in Health, New England Journal of Medicine, June 5, 2008.
(73) The relative index of inequality is the ratio between the value
(mortality, self-perceived health, obesity, etc.) among individuals
at rank 1 (the lowest education or income level) and rank 0 (the
highest level). Therefore an index equal to 1 means equality;
while an index higher than 1 means inequality.
(74) e.g all cancers, all cardiovascular, ischaemic heart and
cerebrovascular diseases, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.
As a result of the higher frequency of physical and
mental health problems in lower socioeconomic
groups, the prevalence of limitations in functioning
(‘daily activities’) and various forms of disability also
tend to be higher.
36
1. Main characteristics and recent trends in the health status of women and men
Figure 1‑2 — Relative inequalities in the rate of death from
any cause for men and women, in 16 European countries (75)
4
4
3
3
Europe
Europe
Estonia
Estonia
Lithuania
Lithuania
Poland
Poland
Czech
CzechRepublic
Republic
Slovenia
Slovenia
Hungary
Hungary
Spain
Spain(Basque
(Basquecountry)
country)
Spain
Spain(Madrid)
(Madrid)
Spain
Spain(Barcelona)
(Barcelona)
Italy
Italy(Turin)
(Turin)
France
France
Switzerland
Switzerland
Belgium
Belgium
England
Englandand
andWales
Wales
Denmark
Denmark
Norway
Norway
1
1
Sweden
Sweden
2
2
Finland
Finland
Relative
Relativeindex
indexof
ofinequality
inequality
A
Education, Men
A Education,
Men
5
5
4
4
3
3
Europe
Europe
Estonia
Estonia
Lithuania
Lithuania
Poland
Poland
Czech
CzechRepublic
Republic
Hungary
Hungary
Slovenia
Slovenia
Spain
Spain(Basque
(Basquecountry)
country)
Spain
Spain(Madrid)
(Madrid)
Spain
Spain(Barcelona)
(Barcelona)
Italy
Italy(Turin)
(Turin)
France
France
Switzerland
Switzerland
Belgium
Belgium
England
Englandand
andWales
Wales
Denmark
Denmark
Norway
Norway
1
1
Sweden
Sweden
2
2
Finland
Finland
Relative
Relativeindex
indexof
ofinequality
inequality
B
B Education,
Education, Women
Women
5
5
Source: Mackenbach, J.P., et al. (2008), Socioeconomic Inequalities in Health in 22 European Countries, Special Article for the European Union
Working Group on Socioeconomic Inequalities in Health, New England Journal of Medicine, June 5, 2008, p. 2473.
Explanatory note: Panel A shows inequalities between men with the lowest level of education and those with the highest, and Panel B shows
education-related inequalities for women. Economically inactive men whose last occupation was unknown were excluded from the analysis.
Because exclusion of these men may lead to underestimation of mortality differences between occupational classes, an adjustment procedure
was applied that was developed and tested in a previous European comparative study of inequalities in mortality; the procedure is based
on national estimates of the proportion of economically inactive men in each occupational class and of the mortality rate ratio of inactive as
compared with active men in each occupational class. ‘Europe’ refers to the 16 countries presented in the figure.
(75) The year of reference is different for the countries. See:
Mackenbach, J.P., et al. (2008), Socioeconomic Inequalities in
Health in 22 European Countries, Special Article for the European
Union Working Group on Socioeconomic Inequalities in Health,
New England Journal of Medicine, June 5, 2008, p. 247.
37
ACCESS TO HEALTHCARE AND LONG-TERM CARE: Equal for women and men?
Figure 1‑3 — Relative inequalities in the prevalence
of poorer self-assessed health in 19 European countries (76)
1.6 1.6
1.4 1.4
1.4 1.4
1.2 1.2
Finland
Finland
Finland
Sweden
Sweden
Finland
Sweden
Norway
Norway
Sweden
Norway
Denmark
Denmark
Norway
Denmark
Ireland
Ireland
Denmark
Ireland
England
England
Ireland
England
TheThe
Netherlands
Netherlands
England
The Belgium
Netherlands
Belgium
The Netherlands
Belgium
Germany
Germany
Belgium
Germany
France
France
Germany
France
Italy
Italy
France
Italy
Spain
Spain
Italy
Spain
Portugal
Portugal
Spain
Portugal
Slovenia
Slovenia
Portugal
Slovenia
Hungary
Hungary
Slovenia
Hungary
Czech
Czech
RepRep
Hungary
Czech
Lithuania
Lithuania
Czech
Rep Rep
Lithuania
Latvia
Latvia
Lithuania
Latvia
Estonia
Estonia
Latvia
Estonia
Estonia
Europe
Europe
Europe
Europe
1.2 1.2
1.0 1.0
1.0 1.0
Income,
Men
C CIncome,
Men
2.2
2.2
C C
Income,
Men
Income, Men
Relative
Relative
index
index
of inequality
of inequality
Relative
of inequality
Relative
indexindex
of inequality
2.2 2.2
2.0 2.0
2.0 2.0
1.8 1.8
1.8 1.8
1.6 1.6
1.6 1.6
1.4 1.4
1.4 1.4
1.2 1.2
Finland
Finland
Finland
Sweden
Sweden
Finland
Sweden
Norway
Norway
Sweden
Norway
Denmark
Denmark
Norway
Denmark
Ireland
Ireland
Denmark
Ireland
England
England
Ireland
England
TheThe
Netherlands
Netherlands
England
The Belgium
Netherlands
Belgium
The Netherlands
Belgium
Germany
Germany
Belgium
Germany
France
France
Germany
France
Italy
Italy
France
Italy
Spain
Spain
Italy
Spain
Portugal
Portugal
Spain
Portugal
Slovenia
Slovenia
Portugal
Slovenia
Hungary
Hungary
Slovenia
Hungary
Czech
Czech
RepRep
Hungary
Czech
Lithuania
Lithuania
Czech
Rep Rep
Lithuania
Latvia
Latvia
Lithuania
Latvia
Estonia
Estonia
Latvia
Estonia
Estonia
Europe
Europe
Europe
Europe
1.2 1.2
1.0 1.0
1.0 1.0
1.8 1.8
1.6 1.6
1.6 1.6
1.4 1.4
1.4 1.4
1.2 1.2
1.2 1.2
1.0 1.0
Finland
Finland
Finland
Sweden
Sweden
Finland
Sweden
Norway
Norway
Sweden
Norway
Denmark
Denmark
Norway
Denmark
Ireland
Ireland
Denmark
Ireland
England
England
Ireland
England
TheThe
Netherlands
Netherlands
England
The Belgium
Netherlands
Belgium
The Netherlands
Belgium
Germany
Germany
Belgium
Germany
France
France
Germany
France
Italy
Italy
France
Italy
Spain
Spain
Italy
Spain
Portugal
Portugal
Spain
Portugal
Slovenia
Slovenia
Portugal
Slovenia
Hungary
Hungary
Slovenia
Hungary
Czech
Czech
RepRep
Hungary
Czech
Lithuania
Lithuania
Czech
Rep Rep
Lithuania
Latvia
Latvia
Lithuania
Latvia
Estonia
Estonia
Latvia
Estonia
Estonia
Europe
Europe
Europe
Europe
1.8 1.8
1.6 1.6
2.0 2.0
1.8 1.8
1.0 1.0
Income,
Women
D DIncome,
Women
2.2
2.2
D D
Income,
Women
Income, Women
2.2 2.2
2.0 2.0
2.0 2.0
1.8 1.8
1.8 1.8
1.6 1.6
1.6 1.6
1.4 1.4
1.4 1.4
1.2 1.2
1.2 1.2
1.0 1.0
Finland
Finland
Finland
Sweden
Sweden
Finland
Sweden
Norway
Norway
Sweden
Norway
Denmark
Denmark
Norway
Denmark
Ireland
Ireland
Denmark
Ireland
England
England
Ireland
England
TheThe
Netherlands
Netherlands
England
The Belgium
Netherlands
Belgium
The Netherlands
Belgium
Germany
Germany
Belgium
Germany
France
France
Germany
France
Italy
Italy
France
Italy
Spain
Spain
Italy
Spain
Portugal
Portugal
Spain
Portugal
Slovenia
Slovenia
Portugal
Slovenia
Hungary
Hungary
Slovenia
Hungary
Czech
Czech
RepRep
Hungary
Czech
Lithuania
Lithuania
Czech
Rep Rep
Lithuania
Latvia
Latvia
Lithuania
Latvia
Estonia
Estonia
Latvia
Estonia
Estonia
Europe
Europe
Europe
Europe
2.0 2.0
1.8 1.8
2.2 2.2
2.0 2.0
Relative
Relative
index
index
of inequality
of inequality
Relative
of inequality
Relative
indexindex
of inequality
Relative
Relative
index
index
of inequality
of inequality
Relative
of inequality
Relative
indexindex
of inequality
2.2 2.2
2.0 2.0
Education,
Women
B BEducation,
Women
2.2
2.2
B B
Education,
Women
Education, Women
Relative
Relative
index
index
of inequality
of inequality
Relative
of inequality
Relative
indexindex
of inequality
Education,
Men
A AEducation,
Men
2.2
2.2
A A
Education,
Men
Education, Men
1.0 1.0
Source: Mackenbach, J.P., et al. (2008), Socioeconomic Inequalities in Health in 22 European Countries, Special Article for the European Union
Working Group on Socioeconomic Inequalities in Health, New England Journal of Medicine, June 5.
Explanatory note: Panels A and B show inequalities between persons with the lowest and those with the highest level of education for men
and women, respectively. Panels C and D show inequalities between persons with the lowest and those with the highest level of income for
men and women, respectively. In order to make use of the full range of levels of self-assessed health, the burden of disease associated with
each level was estimated on the basis of the number of chronic conditions reported by respondents to these surveys. Relative differences in
self-reported chronic conditions between answer categories of the self-assessed health question were remarkably similar between countries
and varied only marginally around a multiplicative factor of 1.85 (i.e. each step down on the self-assessed health scale was found to be
associated with 1.85 times more chronic conditions). On the basis of this analysis, a weight for burden of disease was assigned to each category
of answer to the question, ‘How is your health in general?’‘Very good’ was assigned a weight of 1.850 = 1, ‘good’ a weight of 1.851 = 1.85, ‘fair’
a weight of 1.852 = 3.42, and ‘poor’ or ‘very poor’ a weight of 1.853 = 6.33. Sensitivity analyses showed that the ranking of countries according
to the magnitude of inequalities in self-assessed health did not change when these weights were varied within the range of observed values.
‘Europe’ refers to the 19 countries presented in the figure.
In Europe as a whole, both smoking and obesity are
more common among people of lower education levels;
education-related inequalities in smoking are greater
among men, and education-related inequalities in
obesity are greater among women (Figure 1-4). There are
striking differences between countries in the magnitude
and even the direction of these inequalities, however.
Striking education-related inequalities in smoking are
seen in the northern, western, and continental European
(76) The year of reference is different for the countries.
38
countries; small inequalities (among women even reverse
inequalities, in which smoking rates are higher in groups
with more education) are seen in the southern countries.
In the eastern European countries, the pattern is unclear.
Great education-related inequalities in obesity are seen
in the southern region, particularly among women, for
whom the relative indexes of inequality are above 4,
indicating that the prevalence of obesity among those
with the least education is more than four times higher
1. Main characteristics and recent trends in the health status of women and men
Men
Women
4.0
A Current smoking
Men
Women
6.0
3.0
5.0
2.0
4.0
1.0
France
Italy
Spain
France
Italy
Spain
Europe
Germany
Germany
Estonia
Belgium
Belgium
Latvia
Netherlands
Netherlands
Lithuania
England
England
Czech Rep
Ireland
Ireland
Hungary
Denmark
Denmark
Slovenia
Norway
Norway
1.0
Portugal
Sweden
Sweden
2.0
Finland
3.0
0.0
Finland
Relative index of inequality
Relative index of inequality
A Current smoking
6.0
Figure
1‑4 — Relative inequalities in the prevalence of current smoking (Panel A)
and obesity (Panel B) between persons with the lowest and those with
5.0
the highest level of education, according to sex, in 18 EU countries and Norway (77)
B Obesity
Men
Women
Men
Women
Europe
Estonia
Latvia
Lithuania
Czech Rep
Hungary
Slovenia
Portugal
0.0
6.0
4.0
B Obesity
6.0
3.0
5.0
2.0
4.0
1.0
1.0
Europe
Estonia
Latvia
Lithuania
Czech Rep
Hungary
Slovenia
Portugal
Spain
Italy
France
Germany
Belgium
Netherlands
England
Ireland
Denmark
Norway
2.0
Sweden
3.0
0.0
Finland
Relative index of inequality
Relative index of inequality
5.0
Europe
Estonia
Latvia
Lithuania
Czech Rep
Hungary
Slovenia
Portugal
Spain
Italy
France
Germany
Belgium
Netherlands
England
Ireland
Denmark
Norway
Sweden
Finland
Source: Mackenbach,
J.P., et al. (2008), Socioeconomic Inequalities in Health in 22 European Countries, Special Article for the European Union
0.0
Working Group on Socioeconomic Inequalities in Health, New England Journal of Medicine, June 5.
Explanatory note: Relative inequalities in the prevalence of current smoking (Panel A) and obesity (Panel B) between persons with the lowest
and those with the highest level of education, according to sex. ‘Europe’ refers to the 19 countries presented in the figure.
than that among those with the most education. By
contrast, education-related inequalities in obesity tend to
be below average in the eastern European countries.
The correlation between the health status of the
population and economic and social conditions is
particularly evident when considering the eastern
European countries. In general, living and health
conditions in eastern European countries are below
the EU-25 average and have been worsening in the
nineties (see Box 1.1), as they present lower levels of
GDP and lower investments in the healthcare system.
To improve access to and quality of health services, it
is essential to improve accountability in healthcare, in
these countries, which inherited a good network of
health services, and where the erosion in access that
had been observed during the 1990s has been only
partially reversed (78).
(77) The year of reference is different for the countries. See:
Mackenbach, J.P., et al. (2008), Socioeconomic Inequalities
in Health in 22 European Countries, Special Article for the
European Union Working Group on Socioeconomic Inequalities
in Health, New England Journal of Medicine, June 5, 2008.
(78) Asad, A., Murthi, M., Yemtsov, R, et al. (2005), Growth, poverty,
and inequality: eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union,
The World Bank, Washington, DC.
39
ACCESS TO HEALTHCARE AND LONG-TERM CARE: Equal for women and men?
Box 1‑1 — Health status in eastern European countries
Eurostat data on health show that eastern Europe reports
lower levels of health and substantial gender differences.
Indeed, the negative impact on life expectancy during the
economic transition from a planned to a market economy is
visible for some countries (e.g. Bulgaria, Estonia, Lithuania,
Romania, and Latvia), where a temporary decline in life
expectancy was seen between 1986 and 1996. In general,
these countries now show important improvements with
the exception of Latvia and Lithuania for men, where life
expectancy is still below the 1986 level (79).
For instance, in Estonia, the life expectancy is far below the
EU average, with a gender gap of over 11 years, and there
has been no improvement since 1990. In the 5–19 and
20–44 age groups, men lose three times as many life years
as women. As for the causes of death, the largest gender
differences concern suicide, accidents and transport
accidents, as over four times more men die due to these
reasons as compared to women. Standardised death rates
are also three times higher for men in case of pneumonia,
alcohol abuse, AIDS and homicide compared to women (80).
Among eastern European countries, Poland is in the best
position, with life expectancy very close to the EU average,
with similar patterns of mortality and morbidity and rather
low alcohol consumption and smoking rates.
Mortality rates are also high in these countries relative to
the EU-27 average.
Data on socioeconomic inequalities in relation to mortality
by cause of death are much more available for western
than for eastern Europe. The few data for eastern EU
countries that do exist, however, show that mortality due to
cardiovascular disease is higher in the lower socioeconomic
groups there as well. This has been shown for a range
of countries including the Czech Republic, Hungary and
Estonia. Cardiovascular disease is also one of the main
causes for the increasing inequalities in the total mortality
rates in many eastern European countries.
In Hungary the mortality rate caused by lung cancer in men
is the highest in the world (81).
In Bulgaria the mortality rate has increased over the
last two decades (14.8 per 1 000, the highest value
(79) European Commission (2007), Health and long-term care in the
European Union, Special Eurobarometer, 283. http://ec.europa.eu/public_opinion/archives/ebs/ebs_283_
en.pdf
(80) EuroHIV (2006), HIV/AIDS Surveillance in Europe, End-year
report 2005, No 73, European Centre for the Epidemiological
Monitoring of HIV/AIDS WHO and UN AIDS Collaborating
Centre on HIV/AIDS, Saint-Maurice. http://www.eurohiv.org/reports/report_72/pdf/report_
eurohiv_72.pdf
(81) Curado, M.P., et al. (2008), Cancer Incidence in Five Continents,
Vol. IX, IARC Scientific Publications No 160, Lyon.
40
in the EU-27) (82). Mortality is still higher among men (16.1 %)
than women (13.5 %), and is higher in rural areas (20.7 %)
than in towns (12.3 %). Maternal mortality at birth was
four times higher than in the EU-15 in 2000 and has varied
during the last 15 years. It is higher in villages (25.5 %) than
in towns (16.5 %) due to the ‘low level of care at pregnancy
and the lack of qualified help at birth for particular groups
of women from ethnic minorities’ (83).
According to the EGGSI national report, in Romania maternal
mortality was very high in the 1970s and 1980s, mainly due
to the ban on abortions. Since abortion became legal, the
maternal mortality rate has continuously decreased, but is
still very high (15.5 per 100 000 live births in 2006) (84). This
can be mainly attributed to abortions not performed in
medical facilities and for obstetrical reasons. However there
are significant ethnic and social class differences in both
maternal and infant/child mortality rates and households
headed by women are often at greatest risk.
Also, lifestyle appears to be less healthy in these countries.
For example:
In Slovenia alcohol consumption is culturally accepted
and very common: 87 % of people drank alcohol in the last
12 months (data for 2004) (85). Again, the share is higher
among men (90 %) than among women (83 %). The share
also somewhat increases with education, while there are
no significant differences between age groups (only the
youngest age group stands out with a somewhat higher
consumption).
In Romania, smoking increased among both men and
women after 1990, especially among young people. A survey
by the Ministry of Health and Family from 1997 showed that
46 % of people (13 % of women) above the age of 18 were
regular smokers, which is high compared to the EU, but
similar to other central and east European countries (86).
Source: EGGSI network national reports 2009 and Eurostat data.
(82) Ministry of Health (Bulgaria), Report on the Health Status
of the Citizens — Priority Investment into the Future of the
Nation (2005–07), Sofia.
(83) Ministry of Labour and Social Policy (2006), National
Demographic Strategy of the Republic of Bulgaria (2006–20),
Sofia, 2007, p. 14. http://www.un-bg.bg/documents/unfpa_population_
strategy06-20_en.pdf
(84) European Observatory on Health Systems and Policies (2008),
Healthcare systems in transition, Vol. 10, No 3, Romania Health
System Review, p. 12.
(85) European Commission (2007), Health and long-term care in the
European Union. Special Eurobarometer, 283. http://ec.europa.eu/public_opinion/archives/ebs/ebs_283_
en.pdf
(86) Ministry of Public Health and Family (1997), Romanian health
status survey, Bucharest, Computing Centre for Health
Statistics and Medical Documentation.
2. Gender differences
in access to healthcare
‘Despite overall improvements in health there remain
striking differences in health outcomes not only across
Member States but also within each country between
different sections of the population according to
socioeconomic status, place of residence and ethnic
group, and gender’ (87).
The Joint Report on Social Protection and Social
Inclusion (2008) (88) considers that on average, people
with lower levels of education, wealth or occupational
status have shorter lives and suffer more often from
disease and illness than more well-off groups and
these gaps are not declining. ‘Income inequality,
poverty, unemployment, stress, poor working
conditions and housing are important determinants
of health inequalities, as are lifestyle and willingness
and ability to bear the costs. While healthcare systems
have contributed to significant improvements in
health across the EU, access to healthcare remains
uneven across social groups.’ The Member States are
implementing policies at national or local levels to
reduce these inequalities and to overcome present
barriers to accessing healthcare in terms of financial,
cultural and geographical obstacles. ‘Virtually all
Member States have implemented universal or almost
universal rights to care and have adapted services to
reach those who have difficulty accessing conventional
services due to physical or mental disability or to
linguistic or cultural differences. Few have begun
to address health inequalities systematically and
comprehensively by reducing social differences’ (89).
Gender plays a specific role in the incidence and
prevalence of certain types of pathologies (as
described in Chapter 1) but also in their treatment and
their impact in terms of well-being and recovery, due
(87) Council of the European Union (2008), Joint Report on Social
Protection and Social Inclusion, Directorate-General for
Employment, Social Policy, Health and Consumer Affairs,
Brussels.
http://register.consilium.europa.eu/pdf/en/08/st07/st07274.
en08.pdf
(88) Council of the European Union (2008), Joint Report on Social
Protection and Social Inclusion, Directorate-General for
Employment, Social Policy, Health and Consumer Affairs,
Brussels.
http://register.consilium.europa.eu/pdf/en/08/st07/st07274.
en08.pdf
(89) Council of the European Union (2008), Joint Report on Social
Protection and Social Inclusion, Directorate-General for
Employment, Social Policy, Health and Consumer Affairs,
Brussels.
http://register.consilium.europa.eu/pdf/en/08/st07/st07274.
en08.pdf
to the interrelation of biological aspects, psychological
and cultural behaviour (due to ethnic, social, and
religious background), socioeconomic conditions and
the features of the healthcare systems. Some factors
can exacerbate gender inequalities in health and wellbeing, such as the gender pay gap and the burden of
family and care responsibilities, poverty and isolation,
leaving women particularly vulnerable, especially in
financial terms, in accessing health services. Their longer
lifespan, compared to men, increases the amount of
time that they live in illness, disability and solitude. As
clearly shown in the previous chapter (Table 1-1), the
proportion of healthy life years for men is higher than
for women throughout Europe.
This chapter considers gender differences in access
to healthcare. The analysis firstly considers service
provisions in health promotion, prevention and
treatment, and secondly, how financial, cultural and
geographical barriers may affect women and men
differently in accessing service provision.
2.1.Existing service provisions:
an overview of gender
differences
Before considering gender differences in the provision
of healthcare services, it is useful to present some
indicators regarding the relevance of healthcare
expenditure in European countries and its composition.
Figures 2-1 and 2-2 present total healthcare expenditure
as a percentage of the GDP and per capita. Differences
among European countries are clearly visible: eastern
European countries spend a much lower percentage
of the GDP than western countries, with the lowest
incidence in Estonia (5 % of GDP) and the highest in
France (11 % of GDP). Also, per capita expenditures
are much lower in eastern European countries, with
Romania presenting the lowest and Luxembourg over
eight times more. Most countries show a clear upward
trend in expenditure between 2000 and 2006, except
Estonia and Lithuania which show a decline. Differences
are due to various factors, such as the country’s income
level, the structure and organisation of the healthcare
services and the share of the old-age population.
41
ACCESS TO HEALTHCARE AND LONG-TERM CARE: Equal for women and men?
Figure 2‑1 — Total healthcare expenditure as a % of GDP,
in the EU-27 countries, 2000 and 2006 — ranking
12
2000
2006
10
8
EU average
for 2006
6
EU average
for 2000
4
2
Estonia
Romania
Lithuania
Poland
Cyprus
Latvia
Czech Rep.
Slovakia
Luxembourg
Ireland
Bulgaria
Finland
Malta
Hungary
UK
Spain
Italy
Slovenia
Greece
Sweden
Netherlands
Austria
Denmark
Portugal
Belgium
France
Germany
0
Source: European Commission, New common indicators from 2006 for the Open Method of Coordination.
http://ec.europa.eu/employment_social/spsi/common_indicators_en.htm, Indicator HC-P12,
based on OECD health data 2007 and WHO Health for all databases.
Explanatory note: Data refer to total public and private expenditure on health as % of GDP. Public healthcare expenditure includes government
spending (including central government, state/provincial government and local/municipal government) and social security funds. Private
healthcare expenditure includes private health insurance (private social insurance + private insurance other than social insurance), private
households out-of-pocket expenditure, non-profit institutions and private corporations other than health insurance such as private companies
funding occupational healthcare.
Figure 2‑2 — Total healthcare expenditure per capita,
in the EU-27 countries, 2000 and 2006 — ranking
5000
2000
2006
4000
3000
EU average for 2006
2000
EU average for 2000
1000
Romania
Bulgaria
Estonia
Latvia
Lithuania
Poland
Slovakia
Czech Rep.
Hungary
Cyprus
Malta
Slovenia
Portugal
Spain
Greece
Italy
Finland
UK
Ireland
Sweden
Denmark
Germany
Netherlands
France
Belgium
Austria
Luxembourg
0
Source: European Commission, New common indicators from 2006 for the Open Method of Coordination
http://ec.europa.eu/employment_social/spsi/common_indicators_en.htm, Indicator HC-P11, based on OECD health data 2007 and WHO
Health for all database.
Explanatory note: Data refer to total health expenditure per capita in USD PPP.
42
2. Gender differences in access to healthcare
In all European countries, most healthcare
expenditures are dedicated to curative and
rehabilitative care, followed by medical goods
dispensed to outpatients (Table 2-1). Prevention and
public health services are still a marginal component
of health expenditures, even if with relevant
differences across countries (from 6.6 % of Romanian
health expenditures to 0.2 % in Cyprus).
Table 2‑1 — Total healthcare expenditure by function (% share
of current health expenditure), in some European countries, 2005
Services of
Services of
Services of
rehabilitative
curative and
curative care
care
rehabilitative care
Belgium
Czech Republic
Denmark
Germany
Estonia
Spain
France
Cyprus
Lithuania
Luxembourg
Netherlands
Poland
Portugal
Romania
Slovenia
50.6
45.2
:
50.2
52.8
57.6
:
52.4
45.8
53.2
50.6
49.9
:
45.2
53.5
2.6
3.7
:
3.3
3.1
:
:
9.5
4.2
2.5
4.4
3.0
: 0.6
2.3
:
48.9
56.8
53.5
55.9
57.6
56.8
61.9
50.0
55.7
55.0
52.8
61.9
45.8
55.8
Ancillary
services to
healthcare
4.4
12.5
3.1
4.6
8.4
5.0
3.7
9.5
4.4
5.0
3.9
3.8
9.1
3.8
3.0
Medical goods Prevention
Health
dispensed to
and public
administration and
outpatient health services health insurance
19.3
29.7
13.6
20.2
26.9
25.9
21.5
20.7
37.6
11.1
17.1
32.5
24.6
30.8
24.5
1.8
1.8
2.3
3.4
2.3
1.3
2.2
0.2
1.7
1.1
4.7
2.4
1.9
6.6
4.0
6.2
3.3
1.8
5.8
3.4
3.5
7.1
5.9
2.0
9.7
5.8
1.6
1.3
4.0
4.3
Note: no data available.
Source: European Commission, New common indicators from 2006 for the Open Method of Coordination
http://ec.europa.eu/employment_social/spsi/common_indicators_en.htm, Indicator HC-C4, based on Eurostat and OECD, based on System
of Health accounts (SHA).
Explanatory note: Data refer to prevention and public health as a percentage of total current health expenditure.
Across Europe, the overarching aim of the national
healthcare systems is that good health and care should
be offered to the whole population on equal terms,
independent of gender, country, occupation and level
of education. However, apart from general statements,
access to medical care remains varied in many EU
countries, in terms of waiting time and waiting lists,
distance, costs for patients (such as out-of-pocket
payment), accessibility for specific ethnic groups, etc.
As age is a relevant variable in influencing one’s health
status and access to healthcare, the following analysis
adopts a life-cycle approach in presenting a selection
of existing service provisions for women and men. The
analysis begins by presenting provisions offered during
childhood and adolescence, then continues with those
offered in the reproductive age, and finally presents
provisions offered during old age.
2.1.1. Health promotion
The WHO defines health promotion strategies as those
strategies that are not limited to a specific health
problem, nor to a specific set of behaviours (90): they
apply to a variety of population groups, risk factors and
diseases, in various settings. Health promotion efforts
in particular involve information campaigns, education,
community development and all those measures that
are aimed at the promotion of healthy choices and
behaviours in raising the awareness of the population.
Information and education campaigns play a key role in
improving health by helping people to make healthier
choices and encouraging healthier behaviours. The
2008–13 EU Public Health Programme (91) includes
(90) WHO, Health Promotion. http://www.who.int/healthpromotion/en/ and European Commission, Health EU, the Public Health Portal.
http://ec.europa.eu/health-eu/health_in_the_eu/prevention_
and_promotion/index_en.htm
(91) European Parliament and the Council of the European Union
(2007), Decision No 1350/2007/EC of the European Parliament
and of the Council of 23 October 2007 establishing a second
programme of the Community action in the field of Health
(2008–13). Official Journal of the European Union L 301/3.
http://eur-lex.europa.eu/LexUriServ/LexUriServ.do?uri=OJ:L:20
07:301:0003:0013:EN:PDF
43
ACCESS TO HEALTHCARE AND LONG-TERM CARE: Equal for women and men?
actions to promote good health by addressing the major
determinants of ill health associated with morbidity
and early mortality. To this end, specific projects
and initiatives are aimed at increasing awareness,
disseminating information and sharing best practices.
The focus of this section is on existing health promotion
strategies (programmes or activities) specifically
targeted at women or men or at groups of women and
men affected by specific forms of disadvantage.
The first element to be considered is that the
general tendency for health promotion programmes
throughout Europe is to target the entire population or
particular age groups, focusing on specific issues. The
programmes, however, usually do not develop a gender
dimension, except for the areas of maternity, childbirth
and reproductive health in general, where the target
group of existing programmes are in the great majority
of the cases women. It is also interesting to note that
in particular in those countries where national health
promotion activities are less developed, the role of
NGOs is to be regarded as a relevant contributor to
awareness-raising on issues that otherwise risk being
less emphasised by public action.
Box 2‑1 — The attention on the gender dimension
in some health promotion programmes
France
Norway
Public policies aimed at creating a healthy environment
essentially address the entire population rather than a
specific category. If the youth are the target, as in the Plan for
youth health launched in 2008 (92), women are not subject to
such attention and gender is hardly taken into account. Since
these policies are not gendered, their impact on gendered
health inequalities remains largely undocumented. Policies
have nevertheless been developed to promote a healthy
environment for women in the workplace. This is due to
the French traditional ‘familialist’ approach (93) that tends to
protect mothers’ health at work in order to preserve their
role within the family. Targeted actions to promote women’s
health have essentially been initiated by nongovernmental
organisations (NGOs), such as the French movement for
family planning (Mouvement français du planning familial,
MFPF) created in 1956 to ensure women’s rights to control
their fertility and to combat against sexist violence.
The main goal of the health policy in Norway is to increase
healthy life years, reduce inequalities in health between
various socioeconomic groups, ethnic groups and between
women and men (95). The strategy for reducing health
inequalities emphasises the need for gender mainstreaming
within all health information.
The Netherlands
The Dutch organisation ZonMw is a national organisation
for health research and innovation in healthcare. It finances
several innovative programmes and activities regarding
health promotion, including gender specific programmes
which consider sex, ethnicity, age and income. Between
October 2004 and May 2006, a programme was implemented
in order to promote gender-specific healthcare for general
practitioners (94).
(92) Ministre de la Santé et des Sports (2008), Présentation du
plan santé des jeunes, Paris.
http://www.sante-jeunesse-sports.gouv.fr/actualite-presse/
presse-sante/communiques/presentation-du-plan-santejeunes.html
(93) Lanquetin, M.-T. (1998), L’égalité professionnelle à l’épreuve
des faits, in Maruani, M., Les nouvelles frontières de l’inégalité
hommes–femmes sur le marché du travail, Paris.
(94) The programme was initiated by the University Medical
Centre St. Radboud (Nijmegen) and was financed by ZonMw.
This promotion programme was called ‘Seksespecifieke zorg
in de huisartspraktijk: drie vliegen in één klap’.
44
Poland
The National health programme for 2007–15 sets six goals
(called operational goals) with respect to health promotion
aimed, in principle, at the entire population (96). None
of them mentions gender openly, so they seem gender
neutral.
Romania
The national health promotion programme elaborates a
national strategy for health promotion, carries out studies
regarding tobacco consumption, and also develops
information, education and communication campaigns.
These campaigns address women and men equally and
target the health problems identified at national or local
levels such as: HIV/AIDS discrimination, the need to develop
healthy behaviours (such as healthy diet, sports and fitness,
fight against obesity in children and adults, etc.), prevention
methods for specific diseases (tuberculosis, heart diseases,
cancer), drug prevention, health promotion for mother and
child. The lack of targeted data analysis and interpretation
(such as possible sex- and gender-based differences) and
the scarce availability of existing data are among the weak
points of the health information system.
(95) Helse og omsorgsdepertementet (2006), Nasjonal Helseplan,
Særtrykk av St.prp. nr. 1 (2006–07).
h t t p : / / w w w. re g j e r i n g e n . n o / u p l o a d / k i l d e / h o d /
prm/2006/0083/ddd/pdfv/292402-nasjonal_helseplan_
saertrykk.pdf
(96) There are also five operational goals targeted at specific
subpopulations. Two of them are relevant for the gender
discussion (Improvement of the care regarding mother and
babies, and Making conditions for active life of the elderly)
and will be mentioned in the next sections. The others refer to
children and the disabled and will not be discussed.
2. Gender differences in access to healthcare
Spain
Sweden
In 2006, the Ministry launched an online Information System
for Health Promotion and Education (97) that aimed to collect
programmes and publications by territorial administrations
and classify them by topic and target groups. According
to the database, 6 out the 64 registered initiatives (run on
regional and local levels) exclusively addressed women’s
health. One of the most active public institutions on
gender issues, the Women’s Institute, signed an agreement
in 1992 with the Ministry of Justice for the establishment
of a long-term programme aimed at promoting health
among women at penitentiary institutions (Programme for
the promotion of healthy habits and prevention of HIV for
women deprived of their liberty).
A broad aim of the Swedish healthcare system is that good
health and care should be offered to the whole population
on equal terms. It is the task of society to see to it that
everyone has the same possibility to receive the care they
need independently of sex, where they live, what their job
is, what level of education they have or their ability to speak
Swedish (98). It should be pointed out that in certain areas,
there are long-established structures for health promotion
and health prevention. Prenatal, child and youth clinics are
examples of the systematic and programmed structures
established to carry out these tasks. Other examples are
infectious disease control, screening, registered follow-ups
and health talks with asylum seekers. In 2007, all county
councils had goals for gender equality for caretakers
included in general policy documents (99).
Source: EGGSI network national reports 2009.
(97) Ministerio de sanidad y consume, Sistema de Información de
Promoción y Educación para la Salud. http://sipes.msc.es/sipes/ciudadano/index.html
As anticipated, the following analysis of the health
promotion programmes realised in European
countries is articulated according to a life-cycle
approach: childhood and adolescence, reproductive
age and old age. For each phase, an analysis of the
main features and a presentation of specific examples
have been provided.
(98) Statistiska Centralbyrån, Stockholm. http://www.socialstyrelsen.se
(99) Statistiska Centralbyrån, Stockholm. http://www.socialstyrelsen.se
■■
A similar programme is in effect in Slovenia,
where there are several health promotion and
educational campaigns targeted at children
and promoted by the Institute for Public Health.
Among them is the Slovenian network of healthy
schools, and also more focused campaigns that
promote vaccinations as well as awareness raising
regarding the negative consequences of smoking
(for teachers and pupils).
■■
In Liechtenstein the health education programme
in schools addresses three main goals: (a) the first
goal is the children’s personality development, i.e.
the promotion of the ability to deal with conflict, the
ability to work in teams and the strengthening of selfesteem, as well as a project on violence prevention
called Social Work in Schools; (b) the second goal
concentrates on the physical development of
children by focusing on raising health awareness
with respect to healthy eating habits, exercise,
addictive behaviour and sexuality; (c) the third goal
is to ensure communication between government
offices, parents, physicians and teachers.
■■
In Spain within the bilateral cooperation between
the Ministry of Education and the Ministry of
Health, a reinforcement process was put into effect
between 2006 and 2008 in order to enhance health
promotion at school. Other promotion programmes
are targeted at students at the undergraduate and
postgraduate levels.
■■
In Lithuania the programme is aimed at
strengthening healthcare promotion in schools,
paying particular attention to the healthcare of
teenagers, the development of healthy life styles
and habits for both children and parents.
Childhood and adolescence
Across Europe, promotion programmes targeted at
children and adolescents are quite rarely gendered. In
general, health promotion programmes in this phase of
the life cycle are targeted according to age and not to
gender, and they are organised within school activities.
They generally address issues such as the promotion of
healthy life styles, the prevention of smoking, addiction
(alcohol, drugs) and eating disorders (such as anorexia/
bulimia), the promotion of physical activities, sexuality
and reproductive health. Here are some examples:
■■
In Portugal the Health Promoting Schools project (100)
is directed both to girls and boys, assuming that
early information and health prevention are
important tools to promote equal opportunities: the
project supervises, amongst other things, medical
examinations, the National Vaccination Plan (PNV),
improvement in finding solutions for problems of
children with special health needs at school, the
promotion of oral health and encouragement for
healthy student lifestyles (101).
(100) Official Communication No 734/2000, 18 July, signed by the
Ministers of Health and Education — establishes regulations for
the extension of Health Promoting Schools project network.
(101) Official Communication No 734/2000, 18 July, signed by the
Ministers of Health and Education — establishes regulations for
the extension of Health Promoting Schools project network.
45
ACCESS TO HEALTHCARE AND LONG-TERM CARE: Equal for women and men?
■■
In France a series of measures have been introduced
to protect the health of young people, mainly
from 16 to 25, and to meet their needs regarding
independence and responsibility. Faced with the
worrying spread of high-risk behaviour and the
development of eating disorders, the measures
aim to better protect France’s youth by focusing
on: fighting addictive behaviour, making current
legislation consistent regarding the sale of alcohol
to minors; more balanced eating habits, promoting
a proper environment by advertising for choice of
healthy food at supermarket check-out counters
and school cafeterias; fighting anorexia, with a
charter to be signed soon by professionals working
in the fashion sector, strengthening protection for
models, and especially those under 18, through
the presence of an occupational physician, and
prohibiting the glorification of extreme thinness
and anorexia in the media (102).
■■
Finland launched its first Action programme 2007–11
regarding the promotion of sexual and reproductive
health in 2007 (103). The programme aims to
promote sexual and reproductive health among the
population, focusing especially on young people.
The programme is focused on health and social
welfare professionals, health teachers in secondary
schools and vocational schools, key partners and
organisations. One of the major objectives is to
improve sexual counselling, which should be
integrated into basic and district level services: that
means that each health centre should have employees
who have completed training in sexual counselling.
■■
In the Netherlands the project Girls’ Talk — Healthy
sexual behaviour for young girls, promoted by
Rutgers Nisso Groep (RNG), the Dutch expert centre
on sexuality (104), is targeted at young girls/women
between 12 and 25 years old with a Dutch or another
ethnic background (Surinamese, Turkish, Moroccan),
and a relatively low level of education. The key priorities
of this programme are to provide young girls with sexspecific, culture sensitive group counselling in order
to provide information on healthy sexual behaviour;
increase awareness among young girls of the possible
risks of unhealthy sexual behaviour; develop an
evaluation method in order to measure the effect of
sex-specific counselling on healthy sexual behaviour.
(102) Ministère de la santé et des sports (2008), Présentation du plan
santé des jeunes. http://www.sante-jeunesse-sports.gouv.fr/actualite-presse/pressesante/communiques/presentation-du-plan-sante-jeunes.html
(103) Ministry of Social Affairs and Health — MSAH (2007), Seksuaalija lisääntymisterveyden edistäminen. Toimintaohjelma
2007–11 [Promotion of sexual and reproductive health. Action
Programme 2007–11, English abstract], Helsinki.
(104) Source: Databank effectieve jeugdinterventies — Nederlands
Jeugd Instituut (Dutch Youth Institute). http://www.nji.nl/eCache/DEF/1/03/055.html
46
Reproductive age
The following section provides an overview of health
promotion programmes concerning aspects of healthy
behaviour (such as alcohol consumption, smoking, diet
and physical activity), mental and occupational health,
or addressing specific population groups (such as the
most vulnerable or rural women), HIV/AIDS, as well
maternity/breastfeeding. Many promotion programmes
are targeted at adults or adolescents already in the
reproductive age. Many of them are gender oriented:
in some cases they are targeted at women, in others
at men. Some examples across Europe have been
analysed according to their main focus.
1. Programmes aimed at reducing the
consumption of alcohol: in most EU countries,
programmes of this kind are present. In some
cases, such as in Denmark, Slovakia and Finland
they are gender specific. In Denmark, healthpromotion activities try to consider the ways
the different sexes react to information and to
possible symptoms of sickness. In Slovakia, the
Public health awareness programme is focused
on reducing the consumption of alcohol among
men and in particular male smokers, with
a higher consumption of beer, wine and spirits.
In Finland the accidental deaths of young men
are considered such a relevant problem that
decreasing these deaths is one of the main
aims of the national health programme (Health
2015). For this purpose, the 2004–07 Alcohol
Programme and the Armed Forces launched an
information campaign for men in the military
and in civil service in 2006 with a leaflet entitled
Test your knowledge on ways to control life!
(Elämänhallinta-aineisto, testaa tietosi!) (105).
2. Programmes aimed at reducing smoking: most
EU countries have developed programmes of this
kind. In some cases they aim at different targets
and scopes: in Iceland for example, the focus
is mainly on men, being heavier smokers than
women; in Norway and in Denmark measures
to decrease smoking among pregnant women
and women with small children have been
mentioned by the EGGSI experts (106); in Cyprus
the Ministry of Education has introduced, on
a trial basis, a group psychotherapy-based
smoking cessation programme in one high
school and one technical school in Nicosia.
(105) Finnish Ministry of Social Affairs and Health. h t t p : / / w w w. s t m . f i / j u l k a i s u t / e s i t t e i t a - s a r j a / n a y t a / _
julkaisu/1058533
(106) Helse og Omdepartementet (2006), Najonal strategi for det
tobakksforebyglende ajrbeidet (2006–10), Oslo. h t t p : / / w w w. h e l s e d i r e k t o r a t e t . n o / v p / m u l t i m e d i a /
archive/00009/Nasjonal_strategi_for_9900a.pdf
2. Gender differences in access to healthcare
3. Programmes promoting diet and physical
activity: examples are reported in several
countries. In Hungary they are gender specific
as, according to the data published in the
National Public Health Programme (107), 2/3
of male adults and 1/2 of female adults in
the population are overweight. The goal is to
decrease the frequency of health problems
connected to nutrition, and to improve the
health condition of the population by healthier
nutrition (108); in Slovenia the National Nutrition
Policy Programme 2005–10 emphasises the
importance of healthy nutrition and lists men
as the more vulnerable group: women are
mentioned as more inclined to malnutrition
and diseases such as bulimia and anorexia; and
the Ministry of Labour, Family and Social Affairs
finances programmes to help women with
eating disorders (109). In Sweden the National
Food Administration (NFA) has demonstrated
that women eat more fruit and vegetables
than men, as do people with higher incomes
and higher education than those with lower
incomes and education, hence indicating
that the NFA should focus more on men
than on women, as well as on people with
low incomes and education (110). In Iceland
the programme ‘Men and cancer — lifestyle,
health and nutrition’ is an awareness-raising
campaign aimed at drawing men’s attention to
the fact that the number of cancer cases can
be reduced by 1/3 by doing physical exercise,
improving diet, refraining from smoking and
reducing alcohol consumption: men over 40
are specifically targeted. Similar campaigns are
promoted in Latvia. In many other countries,
programmes of this kind are not gendered.
In Austria the majority of the projects can
be found in the area of prevention of eating
disorders, and few of them focus on femalespecific prevention of addiction.
4. Programmes promoting mental health
and support for people with psychological
symptoms/problems:
mental
health
promotion is viewed as an interdisciplinary
and socio-cultural endeavour aimed at
enhancing the wellbeing of individuals, groups
and communities. The process is life-long,
(107) National Public Health Programme, Budapest. http://color.oefi.hu/program.htm
(108) Az Egészség Évtizedének Johan Béla Nemzeti Programja
(National Public Health Programme) 2003, Budapest. http://color.oefi.hu/program.htm
(109) NGO Women’s Counselling Service, Projects in the field of eating
disorders and body image, Zenska svetovalnica, Lubjana. http://www.drustvo-zenska-svetovalnica.si/a_pred.php
(110) Socialstyrelsen (2005), Statistiska Centralbyrån.
http://www.socialstyrelsen.se
from pregnancy through childbirth, infancy,
childhood and adolescence to adulthood and
old age. Mental health promotion implies
the creation of individual, social, societal and
environmental conditions that enable optimal
psychological
and
psycho-physiological
development as well as a reduction in mental
health problems. Mental health promotion can
enhance emotional resilience, give rise to greater
social inclusion and societal participation,
improve the person–environment fit, as well as
increase the productivity of individuals (111). In
Norway for example, the National strategy for
employment and mental health 2007–12 aims
at preventing exclusion from the labour market
and enhancing employment participation
among people with psychological symptoms/
problems (112). As women have more problems
related to mental health than men, the strategy
is important from a gender perspective, even
though it does not have a direct gender
orientation. A similar programme is promoted
in Finland: the nationwide MASTO project,
launched in 2007, aimed at tackling depression
as a cause of work incapacitation (113). It also
aims at developing a range of best practices
concerning people on sick leave due to
depression. It does not have any genderspecific targets, in spite of recognising gender
segregation as part of the problem, as women’s
and men’s symptoms and health behaviour
regarding mental health differ. In Spain
there are programmes promoting mental
health among young people, mainly through
participatory workshops for parents and
adolescents aged 12–16 years old. The gender
perspective has been particularly addressed
with a view to the dismantling of prejudices
and obsolete gender roles.
5. Programmes
promoting
occupational
health: in Sweden there are programmes on
the improvement of working conditions for
women employed as assistant nurses and male
hospital attendants employed within the care
sector (114).
(111) European Commission (2003), Mental Health Promotion and
Prevention Strategies for Coping with Anxiety, Depression
and Stress Related Disorders in Europe (2001–03).
http://ec.europa.eu/health/ph_projects/2001/promotion/fp_
promotion_2001_frep_02_en.pdf
(112) Helse
og
omsorgsdepartementet
(2007),
Nasjonal
strategiplan for arbeid og psykisk helse (2007–12), Oslo. h t t p : / / w w w. r e g j e r i n g e n . n o / u p l o a d / H O D / Ve d l e g g /
Planer/I-1127%20B.pdf
(113) Finnish Ministry of Social Affairs and Health. http://www.stm.fi/Resource.phx/eng/strag/masto/index.htx
(114) Parmsund, M. (2002), Hälsa – Arbetsliv – Kvinnoliv (projekt),
Statens Folkhälsoinstitut, Stockholm.
47
ACCESS TO HEALTHCARE AND LONG-TERM CARE: Equal for women and men?
6. Health
promotion
programmes
and
campaigns specifically targeted at more
vulnerable groups: in Spain this line of
action has particularly focused on the Roma
community and their specific disadvantages
to accessing health services: the gender
perspective has been explicitly addressed, not
only as a general principle, but also regarding
the problem of domestic violence, as one of
the main priorities. In Cyprus a specialised
educational programme has targeted female
third-country nationals who come to Cyprus
under the status of ‘artists’. Women entering
the country under this status are often
employed in establishments considered ‘high
risk’ for trafficking in women for the purpose
of sexual exploitation, thus the programme
targets a particularly vulnerable group that
suffers various forms of exclusion, particularly
in relation to health (115). In Slovenia some
health promotion programmes and campaigns
are specifically targeted at more vulnerable
groups (prisoners, refugees), and encourage
the education of health workers regarding
health promotion for vulnerable groups.
These programmes are not gender oriented.
In Austria marginalised target groups such as
homeless women, sex workers, women living
in women’s shelters, etc. are addressed by
female-specific health promotion projects,
usually lasting for 1–2 years: there are very few
long-term projects.
7. Programmes on health promotion addressed
to rural women: in Cyprus two programmes
funded by EU programmes (Interreg and
Socrates) address rural women’s sexual and
reproductive health (116).
8. General programmes to check health status: an
interesting example comes from the UK: many
GP surgeries offer a ‘well woman’ clinic where
female patients may be seen by a female doctor
or a female practice nurse to check their current
health status and be provided with advice on
health promotion. Many also offer ‘well man’
clinics which are specialised healthcare clinics
for men. They offer men health check-ups and a
(115) Mediterranean Institute of Gender Studies (2007), Mapping the
Realities of Trafficking in Women for Sexual Exploitation in Cyprus.
(116) DELOA: Itinerant workshops for assessment, help, orientation
and information on sexual education, equal opportunities and
gender equality aimed at rural women, EC Socrates Grundtvig
1. Coordinating organisation: Fundación Paideia Galiza, Spain.
http://www.gender-equality.webinfo.lt/cd/content/theory/
theory13/fcontent.html
48
general advice about health issues. In Austria, the
New medical check-up (Vorsorgeuntersuchung
neu) programme offers basic health check-ups,
such as for cancer or cardiovascular diseases.
Women are offered a gynaecological checkup, and for women above 40, every two years
a mammography is paid. Also women-specific
health centres have been established in Vienna,
Graz, Salzburg, Linz and Carinthia as well as
an outpatient healthcare centre in Innsbruck
particularly for women.
In the field of reproductive health, some programmes
address in particular HIV/AIDS. As a part of the effort
to reduce HIV/AIDS, an increased focus on women is
detectable in these promotion programmes, since
women have an increased risk of HIV/AIDS. The focus
is often on ethnic minorities. Also, the World Health
Organisation has specific programmes concerning
gender inequalities and HIV, considering women much
more vulnerable than men: ‘Gender norms related to
masculinity can encourage men to have more sexual
partners and older men to have sexual relations
with much younger women. In some settings, this
contributes to higher infection rates among young
women (15–24 years) compared to young men. Norms
related to femininity can prevent women — especially
young women — from accessing HIV information and
services. Violence against women (physical, sexual and
emotional), which is experienced by 10 % to 60 % of
women (ages 15–49 years) worldwide, increases their
vulnerability to HIV’ (117). Many European countries have
implemented programmes for sexual education and
the promotion of safer sex for preventing HIV/AIDS.
In Austria, a gender-specific HIV/AIDS programme of
the Aids Hilfe Wien aims at the sexual empowerment
of women, including also migrant women, young
women, women in prison and partners of HIV-positive
men. In Spain, the National Plan on AIDS includes a
gender perspective in its campaigns, research and
statistical data gathering, and addresses also pregnant
mothers or prostitutes, with a special approach. In
Sweden, pregnant women are offered HIV-testing,
while in Germany educational programmes address in
particular HIV homosexual men. Also in Norway, there
is an increased focus on homosexual men, as well as
on women, especially ethnic minorities, which show a
higher incidence of infections.
(117) WHO (2009), Gender inequalities and HIV, Geneva. http://www.who.int/gender/hiv_aids/en/
2. Gender differences in access to healthcare
Box 2‑2 — Good practices: gender-specific programmes/projects
on reproductive health and HIV/AIDS
Cyprus
An interesting example of a gender-specific programme is
‘Evaluation of the Sexual and Reproductive Health Needs of
Migrant Domestic Workers in Cyprus’: it was recently carried
out by the Family Planning Association (CFPA) and funded by
the Cyprus University of Technology. Within the framework
of this programme the CFPA undertook Sunday workshops
on sexual health, with particular emphasis on contraception
and screening (Pap test, breast self-examination) for female
domestic workers. The workshops were followed-up by
clinical screening and testing services for participants,
which were provided by a female gynaecologist, as a
means to meet the cultural sensitivities of many of these
women, who tend to be from diverse ethnic and religious
backgrounds.
Hungary
Since 2003, starting on the first Sunday of May (Mother’s day
in Hungary), a national, non-profit series of programmes
address issues about childbirth. Priority is given to
information about planned pregnancy, delivery and
nursing. Although the programme lasts just one week, its
regional outreach is a basic feature. Moreover, the project’s
homepage is very informative, offering information on
pregnancy (problems, expectations, etc.), preparation for
delivery, mental and physical status, fatherhood, newborn
babies, nursing, home delivery, etc. The target group is
mainly women, but also young fathers. It gives young
parents comprehensive information about pregnancy and
motherhood (118).
Liechtenstein
The Bureau for Sexual Matters and HIV Prevention provides
gender-specific counselling on sex-education topics in
schools and youth centres, such as the project ‘Girl Power
Days’ and ‘Boy Power Days’ for girls and boys aged 11–13,
developed in cooperation with the youth information
office ‘aha — Tips and Info for Young People’. The Boy Power
(118) See http://www.szuleteshete.hu
Days for 12 to 13-year-old boys offers information on body
knowledge and changes in puberty, aggression, malerole images and sexuality, as well as contraception and
protection in relationships. During the Girl Power Days girls
between 11 and 13 are presented topics such as friendship,
‘My Body’, menstruation, etc. The goals of this project are to
promote awareness, improve communication abilities, and
expand behavioural competence (119).
Romania
The National programme for maternal and child health
aims at improving access to reproductive health services.
The objectives are to maintain and increase the number
of people using contraceptive methods and to reduce
the number of abortions. In this respect, family doctors,
family planning offices, obstetrics-gynaecology sections
in hospitals and clinics provide information/educational
materials and free-of-charge contraceptives for certain
disadvantaged categories of the population (unemployed
women, students, disadvantaged women, beneficiaries
of minimum income/state benefits, women living in rural
areas, poor or low-income women). Moreover, a network
of community nurses and health mediators working with
poorer categories of the population (rural residents, the
uninsured, Roma) has been developed. The community
nurses and health mediators’ role is to identify people
who are not registered in family doctors’ lists (especially
pregnant women and children) and to provide information
and counselling to these families. The programme’s
objective is to improve access to health and social services,
contribute to a change in mentality in relation to one’s own
health status, and to increase the responsibility of local
communities concerning the needs of women and men
belonging to marginalised groups.
Source: EGGSI network national reports 2009.
(119) Commission for Equal Opportunities (2007), Third report under
Article 18 of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of
Discrimination against Women of 18 December 1979, Vaduz.
The greatest concentration of health promotion
programmes targeted at women is in the area of
maternity. The promotion of breastfeeding is without a
doubt the most widespread programme across Europe
and has been supported by evidence and common
guidelines (120). The protection, promotion and support
for breastfeeding are a public health priority throughout
Europe. The Global strategy on infant and young child
feeding adopted by all WHO member states at the 55th
World Health Assembly in May 2002 provides a basis
for public health initiatives to protect, promote and
support breastfeeding. Indeed, ‘low rates and early
cessation of breastfeeding have important adverse
health and social implications for women, children,
the community and the environment, result in greater
expenditure on national healthcare provision, and
increase inequalities in health’ (121). The promotion of
breastfeeding is usually accompanied by more general
(120) European Commission (2004), Protection, promotion and
support of breastfeeding in Europe: a blueprint for action, EU
Project on Promotion of Breastfeeding in Europe, Directorate
Public Health and Risk Assessment, Luxembourg. http://ec.europa.eu/health/ph_projects/2002/promotion/fp_
promotion_2002_frep_18_en.pdf
(121) European Commission (2004), Protection, promotion and
support of breastfeeding in Europe: a blueprint for action, EU
Project on Promotion of Breastfeeding in Europe, Directorate
Public Health and Risk Assessment, Luxembourg.
http://ec.europa.eu/health/ph_projects/2002/promotion/fp_
promotion_2002_frep_18_en.pdf
49
ACCESS TO HEALTHCARE AND LONG-TERM CARE: Equal for women and men?
programmes that support the health and well-being of
mothers and their newly born babies, and the following
provide some examples.
■■
■■
■■
■■
■■
In France past legislation and collective agreements
were developed to protect women (night-work
prohibition, except in the health sector), pregnant
women (maternity leave, right of absence to visit a
doctor, etc.) or mothers (right to breastfeed at the
workplace, or to leave earlier for breastfeeding).
Some of these regulations are still in effect
(such as the maternity leave), but others have
recently been removed in the name of the fight
against discrimination (such as the night-work
prohibition) (122).
In Hungary several initiatives have been launched
with the aim of re-evaluating women’s roles as
mothers. They are mainly connected to childbirth
and nursing. Childbirth Week, Nursing Day or
the national strategy ‘The Child is Our Common
Treasure’, are part of the European strategy for child
and adolescent health and development and aim
to raise the prestige of social roles connected to
children and the family. Moreover the health visitors’
network focuses on infants’ and young mothers’
health promotion (123).
In Romania one of the few programmes specifically
targeting women is the National programme for
maternal and child health. The programme is
focused on improving reproductive health and
childcare and one of the interventions targeting
women is breastfeeding promotion. This measure
aims at increasing the number of breast-fed babies
and introducing alternative food for children after
the sixth month of life. Trained personnel guarantee
counselling for young/pregnant women regarding
the advantages of breastfeeding in centres for
promoting breastfeeding.
In Slovenia targeted health promotion activities
include the promotion of breastfeeding and
health education for pregnant women and fathers
and mothers, increasing pregnant women’s
physical activity. Some of the Institute for Public
Health’s health promotion campaigns specifically
target women, especially those concerned with
childbearing (they publish a leaflet for pregnant
women on their rights, others on how to deal with
psychological stress after the birth of a child, as well
as on healthy lifestyles for future parents).
In Norway, to increase the time and number
of women who breastfeed, a measure for paid
(122) Cornet, A., Laufer, J., Belghiti-Mahut, S. (2008), GRH et genre, les
défis de l’égalité hommes-femmes, Vuibert, AGRH, Paris.
(123) For more information on this programme, see Box 2-11.
50
breastfeeding breaks has been introduced and is
expected to have positive effects on employed
women with infants.
Old age
The first important element to be considered is that
the proportion of elderly women is much higher than
the proportion of elderly men (due to the higher
mortality rate of middle-aged men). This means that
many elderly women live alone. Health promotion
programmes targeted at the elderly often provide a mix
of activities concerning social and mental problems.
An interesting example is a programme developed in
the Netherlands, which deals with obesity and other
diseases linked to a lack of movement — it is addressed
to socioeconomically disadvantaged older people and
older people from ethnic minority groups.
Box 2‑3 — Good practice:
Big! Move: health promotion
for older people
In 2003, Big! Move, a project to promote health among
older people, was implemented by the local health
centre in the suburbs of Amsterdam (GAZO). The central
aim of the project was to motivate people to fight against
obesity and other diseases linked to a lack of movement.
The specific target groups of this programme were
socioeconomically disadvantaged older people and
older people from ethnic minority groups. Within these
groups, women were more likely to suffer from obesity
than men (124).
Source: EGGSI network national report 2009, the Netherlands.
(124) Overgoor, L., Aalders, M., Reitsma, S. (2007), Big!Move 2 —
Evaluatieverslag verspreiding Big!Move in opdracht van
Agis op drie locaties, Amsterdam.
2.1.2. Health prevention
Many costly and disabling conditions — such as
cardiovascular diseases, cancer, diabetes, chronic
respiratory diseases — are linked to common
preventable risk factors, related to hereditary factors,
individual health behaviour, living conditions or
socioeconomic and working conditions. Screening
programmes are important preventive measures,
since many diseases can be cured through early
detection. Gender specificities addressed by the
main health prevention/screening programmes,
promoted at the national and/or regional level, as
well as their main features and the key challenges
are presented below.
2. Gender differences in access to healthcare
Childhood and adolescence
Policies and programmes of health prevention
targeted at children and adolescents generally concern
immunisation and screening programmes provided to
the entire youth population or to specific targets among
them. Only few of these programmes presented in the
EGGSI national reports take specifically into account
gender issues: the most widespread across Europe
targeted at young girls is the vaccination programme
for the human papilloma virus (HPV): what is particularly
interesting to note is that across Europe, the access and
the target for such a programme is different, as shown
by the following five examples.
■■
■■
■■
■■
In Belgium, since November 2007, two vaccines
against this virus have been offered free of charge
for girls aged 12 to 15 years, and recently up to
18 years.
HPV vaccination was recently made available in
Cyprus, and the public health services publicised
recommendation for this vaccination, for girls and
women under the age of 26 (although additional
research may indicate that vaccination at older ages
may also be appropriate). However, the state does
not subsidise the HPV vaccination, and the cost may
be too high for many young women and girls (the
total cost for a three-phase shot is EUR 500–600).
In Germany the vaccination against cervical
carcinoma for girls was included in the catalogue
of health insurance benefit schemes in the 2007
health reform. The target group was girls between
12 and 17 years old prior to their first experience
with sexual intercourse. Just 1.5 years after this
vaccination was officially recommended, more than
a half of girls (59 %) between 15 and 17 years had
been vaccinated (125).
In Romania in November 2008, the Ministry of Public
Health started an HPV vaccination campaign in
schools, targeted at 9–12-year-old girls. An average
of 110 000 girls was estimated to be vaccinated.
The campaign created a huge controversy among­
parents (in the first week, 70 % of parents refused
the vaccine for their daughters). The main reasons
leading to the failure of the campaign were identified
as: lack of information and education among parents
and the general public regarding the advantages
and risks of the vaccine, lack of a methodological
letter sent to the physicians involved in the
campaign and the use of the concept of informed
(125) Deutsche Krebsgesellschaft (2008), Aktuelle Impfraten,
Hohe Akzeptanz der HPV-Impfungen bei jungen Mädchen,
20.11.2008. h t t p : / / w w w. l i f e p r. d e / p r e s s e m e l d u n g e n / d e u t s c h e krebsgesellschaft-ev/boxid-75751.html
refusal. As a result, the vaccination campaign was
interrupted and the Ministry of Public Health is
planning to develop an information and education
campaign in 2009. Depending on the results, the
vaccination campaign is to be re-launched.
■■
In Italy the Minister of Health promoted an
informative campaign on the free of charge
public inoculation against HPV. In March 2008, a
compulsory vaccination programme (the first in
Europe) against HPV was launched. The vaccination
programme is widespread throughout the national
territory for all girls between the ages of 11 and 12;
it is supposed to produce, in the following years,
a progressive immunisation of the young female
population throughout the country.
In many countries, important abortion prevention
campaigns have been promoted, targeted mainly at
adolescents and youths. Abortion in adolescence in
fact is still a problem in Europe, with many thousands
of cases per year, even though a clear reduction is
detectable all over Europe (Table 2-2).
Table 2‑2 — Declared legal abortions
by age, 1996 and 2006 in 19 EU countries
and Iceland and Norway
Less than 15 years
Between
15 and 19 years
1996
2006
1996
2006
Bulgaria
319
166
11
349
Czech Republic
33
46
5
2
Denmark
58
0
2 281
2 518
Estonia
12
20
169
1 298
Finland
20
65
2
2
Germany
365
542
11 131
15 209
Greece
17
:
468
:
France
Hungary
Iceland
:
:
25 638
:
256
175
11
5
8
:
207
:
Italy
216
:
11
:
Latvia
25
10
3
1
Lithuania
9
6
2
890
Norway
:
37
:
2
Poland
:
0
:
24
Romania
862
616
36
17
Slovakia
19
12
2
1
Slovenia
3
5
780
430
Spain
100
:
7 211
:
Sweden
137
0
4
7
1
:
36
:
United Kingdom
Source: European Commission, Directorate-General for Health and
Consumers on the basis of Eurostat data.
http://ec.europa.eu/health/ph_information/dissemination/diseases/
docs/reproductive3_en.pdf
51
ACCESS TO HEALTHCARE AND LONG-TERM CARE: Equal for women and men?
An example of an overall campaign was promoted
in Norway: the campaign offered free hormonal
contraception for women in the 20- to 24-year-old age
group (126) as a measure to reduce the abortion rate (127).
As a consequence, the abortion rate for the age group
20–24 declined by 24 % from 1992 to 2000 (128). The main
focus of the campaign was on youths, young adults,
ethnic minority youths, groups with special needs,
i.e. the disabled, and on women/couples planning an
abortion. As a consequence, measures easily accessible
by young people have been established, such as
information on the Internet, specific youth health
centres and increased information given at schools. In
addition, all hormonally based prevention is subsidised
for women in the 16–19 age group. A governmentsupported private foundation offers nationwide, free
counselling to women who have found themselves
pregnant, targeting more vulnerable groups of women
in particular, such as ethnic minority women and lone
women with weak social networks.
have unanimously adopted a recommendation on
cancer screening in 2003 (129), based on the positive
experience of the Europe Against Cancer programme
and its key achievements. The European Union Council’s
recommendation on cancer screening acknowledges
both the significance of the incidence of cancer in
the European population and the evidence for the
effectiveness of breast, cervical and colorectal cancer
screening in reducing the incidence of disease. The
Council Recommendation spells out the fundamental
principles of best practice in early cancer detection
and invites Member States to take common action to
implement national cancer screening programmes with
a population-based approach and with appropriate
quality assurance at all levels, taking into account
European quality assurance guidelines for cancer
screening, where they exist.
The most important and widespread gendered
preventive programmes implemented in Europe are
cancer screenings. The European Union health ministers
Figure 2-3 presents the distribution of cervical cancer
screening programmes in the European Union in 2007,
by programme type and country implementation
status. Programmes shown use the screening test (Pap
smear) recommended by the Council of the European
Union since 2003 (130). Cytology-based cervical cancer
screening is widely accepted as a public health policy
in the EU. Programmes are currently running or being
established in 25 of the 27 Member States. ‘Populationbased (131) programmes are currently running or being
established in 15 Member States (Denmark, Estonia,
Finland, France, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, the Netherlands,
Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, and
the United Kingdom). Non-population-based screening
programmes are running in 12 Member States (Austria,
Belgium, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, France, Germany,
Greece, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Slovakia, and
Spain)’. (132)
(126) Norvegian Directorate of Health. http://www.helsedirektoratet.no/helseogomsorg
(127) Helse og omsorgsdepartementet, St.prp.nr. 1 (2006–07), For
budsjettåret 2007.
http://www.regjeringen.no/Rpub/STP/20062007/001HOD/
PDFS/STP200620070001HODDDDPDFS.pdf
(128) http://www.helsedirektoratet.no/seksuellhelse/sex_og_
samliv/reproductive_health___preventing_unwanted_
pregnancies__5500
(129) Council of the European Union (2003), Council Recommendation
of 2 December 2003 on cancer screening (2003/878/EC). Official
Journal of the European Union 16.12.2003. http://eur-lex.europa.eu/LexUriServ/LexUriServ.do?uri=OJ:L:20
03:327:0034:0038:EN:PDF
(130) Council of the European Union (2003), Council Recommendation
of 2 December 2003 on cancer screening (2003/878/EC). Official
Journal of the European Union, 16.12.2003, http://eur-lex.europa.eu/LexUriServ/LexUriServ.do?uri=OJ:L:20
03:327:0034:0038:EN:PDF
(131) Population-based screening means that in each round of
screening the persons in the eligible target population in the
area served by a programme are individually identified and
personally invited to attend screening.
(132) http://ec.europa.eu/health/ph_determinants/genetics/
documents/cancer_screening.pdf
Reproductive age
Health prevention in reproductive age mostly
involves programmes concerning cancer screenings,
programmes on maternity and sexual/reproductive
health, programmes concerning domestic violence
and the prevention of depression. Most of them
are addressed to women but some of them are also
specifically targeted at men.
Cancer screenings
52
2. Gender differences in access to healthcare
Figure 2‑3 — Distribution of cervical screening programmes based
on cervical cytology in the EU, 2007
Population-based, Nationwide
Rollout complete
Rollout ongoing
Piloting
Planning
Population-based, Regional
R
Rollout complete
R
Rollout ongoing
R
Piloting
Non-population-based,
Nationwide
R
R
Non-population-based,
Regional
R
Population-based and
Non-population-based
R
No programme
R
R
R
Source: European Commission (2008), Report from the Commission to the Council, the European Parliament, the European Economic and
Social Committee and the Committee of the Region Implementation of the Council Recommendation of 2 December 2003 on cancer screening
(2003/878/EC), COM(2008) 882 final 22.12.2008.
http://ec.europa.eu/health/ph_determinants/genetics/documents/com_2008_882.en.pdf
Figure 2-4 presents the distribution of the breast
screening programme across Europe in 2007, by
programme type and country implementation
status. Programmes shown use the screening test
(mammography) recommended by the Council of the
European Union since 2003 (133). As reported by the study
in 2007 ‘programmes were running or being established
in at least 26 of the 27 Member States. Population(133) Council of the European Union (2003), Council Recommendation
of 2 December 2003 on cancer screening (2003/878/EC). Official
Journal of the European Union, 16.12.2003. http://eur-lex.europa.eu/LexUriServ/LexUriServ.do?uri=OJ:L:20
03:327:0034:0038:EN:PDF
based programmes were running or being established
in 22 Member States (Austria, Belgium, Cyprus, Czech
Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany,
Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, Malta, the
Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovenia, Spain,
Sweden, and the United Kingdom). Of the five Member
States operating non-population-based breast screening
programmes based on mammography in 2007 (Austria,
Greece, Latvia, Lithuania, and the Slovakia), one (Austria)
was also piloting or planning implementation of a
nationwide population-based programme’ (134).
(134) http://ec.europa.eu/health/ph_determinants/genetics/
documents/cancer_screening.pdf
53
ACCESS TO HEALTHCARE AND LONG-TERM CARE: Equal for women and men?
Figure 2‑4 — Distribution of breast cancer screening programmes
based on mammography in the EU, 2007
Population-based, Nationwide
Rollout complete
Rollout ongoing
Piloting
Planning
Non-population-based,
Nationwide
Population-based and
Non-population-based
No programme
Source: European Commission (2008), Report from the Commission to the Council, the European Parliament, the European Economic and Social
Committee and the Committee of the Regions, Implementation of the Council Recommendation of 2 December 2003 on cancer screening
(2003/878/EC), COM(2008) 882 final 22.12.2008, Brussels.
http://ec.europa.eu/health/ph_determinants/genetics/documents/com_2008_882.en.pdf
Figure 2-5 presents the distribution of colorectal
cancer screening programmes (135) based on
FOBT (faecal occult blood test) in the European
Union in 2007, by programme type and country
implementation status. While the first two types
of cancer are typically feminine, this third one has
a much higher incidence among men: ‘In 2006
new cases of colorectal cancer were estimated at
140 000 in women and 170 000 in men. Colorectal
cancer deaths were estimated at 68 000 for women
and 78 000 for men in the EU’ (136). Colorectal cancer
screening is also widely accepted as a public health
policy in the EU. Programmes are currently running
or being established in 19 of the 27 Member
(135) Programmes shown use the screening test recommended by
the Council of the European Union in 2003.
(136) Council of the European Union (2003), Council Recommendation
of 2 December 2003 on cancer screening (2003/878/EC). Official
Journal of the European Union, 16.12.2003, http://eur-lex.europa.eu/LexUriServ/LexUriServ.do?uri=OJ:L:20
03:327:0034:0038:EN:PDF
54
2. Gender differences in access to healthcare
States. Twelve of the Member States have adopted
the population-based approach to programme
implementation recommended by the Council
of the European Union (Cyprus, Finland, France,
Hungary, Italy, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovenia,
Spain, Sweden and the United Kingdom). Seven
Member States have established non-populationbased programmes (Austria, Bulgaria, the Czech
Republic, Germany, Greece, Latvia, and the Slovakia).
‘Compared to the situation with breast and cervical
cancer screening in 2007, colorectal cancer screening
programmes were running or being established in a
smaller number of the Member States, programme
implementation was less advanced, and a smaller
proportion of the population specified in the Council
Recommendation was targeted’ (137).
Figure 2‑5 — Distribution of colorectal cancer screening programmes
based on the faecal occult blood test in the EU, 2007
Population-based, Nationwide
Rollout ongoing
Piloting
Planning
Population-based, Regional
R
Piloting
Planning
R
Non-population-based,
Nationwide
R
Population-based and
Non-population-based
No programme
R
Source: European Commission (2008), Report from the Commission to the Council, the European Parliament, the European Economic and
Social Committee and the Committee of the Region Implementation of the Council Recommendation of 2 December 2003 on cancer screening
(2003/878/EC), COM(2008) 882 final 22.12.2008, Brussels.
http://ec.europa.eu/health/ph_determinants/genetics/documents/com_2008_882.en.pdf
(137) http://ec.europa.eu/health/ph_determinants/genetics/
documents/cancer_screening.pdf
55
ACCESS TO HEALTHCARE AND LONG-TERM CARE: Equal for women and men?
As the three maps above indicate, although much
progress has been made, more is still required: ‘The
current annual volume of screening examinations in
the EU is considerable; however, this volume is less
than one half of the minimum annual number of
examinations that would be expected if the screening
tests specified in the Council Recommendation on
cancer screening were available to all EU citizens
of appropriate age (approximately 125 million
examinations per year). Furthermore, less than one
half of the current volume of examinations (41 %)
is performed in population-based programmes
which provide the organisational framework for
implementing comprehensive quality assurance as
required by the Council Recommendation’ (138).
The following two boxes show in greater detail the
first two screening programmes described above,
providing some examples of the situation across
Europe from the EGGSI national reports. Box 2-4
shows that in most EU countries, the cervical cancer
screening programme is free of charge and, in those
best organised, women are invited, with a personal
reminder, to do the test. It is also interesting to note
that, where the figure is available, there is a consistent
differentiation in the take-up rate: it ranges from
59 % in Belgium to 79.2 % in the UK. Some EGGSI
reports evidence that income (as in Belgium) and
geographical barriers (in rural areas in Hungary) play
a consistent role in accessing the programme. In Italy,
the screening programme is not homogeneously
spread across the country. Another element to note is
that the target of the programme is generally people
between the ages of 25–64, but in some cases, such
as in Poland, it is offered to women aged 25–59, and
in Slovenia 20–75.
Box 2‑4 — Cervical cancer prevention programmes in some European countries
Belgium
Estonia
Even though a regular Pap smear, according to scientific
literature (139), can detect 1 400 cases of cervical cancer, per
year, only 59 % of women aged 25 to 64 go to their doctor
or gynaecologist for a Pap smear systematically. There is an
important social component, as women from lower income
groups are 13 % less likely to perform such test (21 % less
when compared with the highest income group) (140).
The cervical cancer screening programme has been carried
out yearly since 2003 among women aged 20–59. The
participation rate of cervical cancer screening is lower than
that of breast cancer and the effectiveness of the programme
has not been assessed yet.
Cyprus
There is currently no running population or non-population
based public screening programme for cervical cancer
in Cyprus. However, according to the 2003 Health Survey
published by the Cyprus Statistical Service, 80.9 % of women
aged 25–64 stated that they had a cervical cancer test at
least once in their lifetime (141).
(139) Health Care Knowledge Centre (KCE) (2006), Dépistage du
cancer du col de l’utérus et du Papillomavirus humain, Brussels.
http://www.kce.fgov.be
(140) Mutualité chrétienne (2008), Inégalités sociales de santé:
observations à l’aide de données mutualistes, MC Informations
233, septembre. h t t p : / / w w w. m c . b e / f r / 1 0 9 / i n f o _ e t _ a c t u a l i t e / m c _
informations/index.jsp
(141) Statistical services of the Republic of Cyprus.
http://www.pio.gov.cy/mof/cystat/statistics.nsf/All/D4C9C72
CE63047EAC2257000002B2646?OpenDocument
(138) European Commission (2008), Report from the Commission to
the Council, the European Parliament, the European Economic
and Social Committee and the Committee of the Region
Implementation of the Council Recommendation of 2 December
2003 on cancer screening (2003/878/EC), COM(2008) 882 final
22.12.2008, Brussels.
http://ec.europa.eu/health/ph_determinants/genetics/
documents/com_2008_882.en.pdf
56
Finland
The oldest nationwide mass screening programme for
cancer typical for females is the Pap test, in effect since 1963
(national programme 1967). Women aged 30–60 are called in
for the screening every five years. In 2005, 71.4 % of women
participated in the screening. In recent years, however, only
about half of young women aged 30–35 participated (142).
Some municipalities organise screening for 65 year olds,
and so in total about 15 % of this age group is screened
on a voluntary basis. Of the approximately 176 500 women
screened, 1 356 (0.8 %) were sent for further investigations
in 2005 (143).
(142) Ministry of Social Affairs and Health — MSAH (2007),
Seulontaohjelmat [Screening programmes, A handbook for
municipal authorities], Helsinki.
(143) Finnish Cancer Organisation, Finnish mass screening registry
40 years old.
http://www.cancer.fi/english/?x22567552=27328166
2. Gender differences in access to healthcare
Hungary
The Netherlands
Cervical cancer screening is an important issue in Hungary.
In Hungary, female mortality caused by cervical cancer
was the third worst in the European Union in 2003, despite
the increase in screening between 1980 and 2003. The
mortality rate caused by cervix cancer is still twice as high
in Hungary than in the EU (144). According to the Eurostat
data (145), 84.8 % of the female population between 25 and
74 had a cervical cancer screening in 2004. In order to reach
endangered women in the remote countryside, where
access to this service is difficult, the Hungarian Post (Magyar
Posta) started a mobile screening programme in 2006. The
mobile screening station drives across the country following
a strict timetable and mobilises women of all endangered
age groups.
Cervical cancer screening began in 1964 and consists of a
gynaecological examination and a Pap-smear. Before 1988,
women were invited to a screening at two- to three-year
intervals and since 1 January 1988, at two-year intervals.
From 1969 to 1987, screening was limited to women aged
25–69, but as of 1 January 1988, the age limit was lowered
to 20. Women are invited to the screening by a personal
letter, reminding them to make an appointment. However,
they may also come of their own accord, without invitation,
if it has been more than 18 months since the last screening,
or whenever they have new symptoms.
Dutch female residents, between the ages of 30 and 60,
receive a personal reminder via regular mail regarding
cervical cancer screening every five years. This health
prevention programme was initiated at a national level
by the Dutch Ministry of Health, Welfare and Sport in
collaboration with the National Institute for Public Health
and Environment (RIVM). Every year, 800 000 women are
invited to participate in this screening; approximately
66 % of them actually participate (147). All women between
30 and 60 years old are invited to make an appointment
with their regular general practitioner in order to undergo
examination to prevent cervical cancer. This national health
prevention programme gives women the opportunity to
determine their chances of developing cervical cancer at
an early stage. Therefore, if they show symptoms which
indicate potential cervical cancer they can be treated in
time. Women are examined by their general practitioner and
results of the examination are sent to a medical lab where a
cytologist or pathologist further studies the cervical smear.
If the swab shows no anomaly during examination, women
do not have to return for a screening for another five years.
If the swab does show an anomaly, further examination
will be initiated by the general practitioner. The visit to
the general practitioner, the analysis itself, the results and
even the further examination after six weeks if there is any
indication for it, are free of charge. The cost is paid for by the
national government.
Italy
Norway
Since 1996, Italian national guidelines have recommended
regions to implement organised, free of charge screening
programmes for cervical cancer. These recommendations,
largely based on European guidelines, include personal
invitations to women aged 25 to 64 for a Pap test every
three years (not applied uniformly across the country), a
monitoring system, and quality assurance for each phase
of the programme. The implementation of the regional
plans has been constantly monitored. Two out of three
Italian women between 25 and 64 years of age live in an
area where an organised cervical screening programme is
active (146).
Every three years, women in the 25–69 age group are
requested to be examined in order to prevent cervix
cancer (148).
Iceland
Latvia
The health prevention programme on the prevention of
cervical cancer was introduced in 2009. The programme
includes primary and secondary prevention of cancer:
screening and vaccination. Screening is going to be free
of charge, and every woman of a certain age (between
the ages of 25 and 67) will receive invitation letters to the
screening examination every three years.
(144) National Strategy Report on Social Protection and Social
Inclusion 2006–08, Hungary, Budapest, 2006, Annex 1-1
http://ec.europa.eu/employment_social/spsi/docs/social_
inclusion/2006/nap/hungary_annex1_1_en.pdf
(145) Eurostat data on population and social conditions based on
health interview surveys (HIS). http://epp.eurostat.ec.europa.eu/portal/page/portal/product_
results/search_results?mo=containsall&ms=cervical+&saa=&
p_action=SUBMIT&l=us&co=equal&ci=,&po=equal&pi=
(146) Ministero della Salute (2007), Libro bianco: La salute della
donna, Stato di salute e di Assistenza nelle regioni italiane,
Rome.
Poland
The programme for the prevention and early diagnosis of
cervical cancer is included in a widespread longitudinal
national programme for fighting malignant neoplasms set
up in 2005, spanning the period 2006–15. It offers a free
conventional Pap smear test and — if needed — further
medical consultations and treatment every three years
(except in suspected cases) for women aged 25–59. The
programme includes an educational component: patients
receive information on breast/cervical cancer, on possible
risk factors, prevention and treatment methods.
Romania
Despite the fact that breast cancer and cervical cancer
are the primary causes of cancer-related deaths affecting
women, Romania is one of the few Member States that does
not have a complete screening programme for identifying
and preventing these types of cancers in the early stages.
However, in 2009, the Romanian Ministry of Public Health
announced the launching of two screening programmes
for breast cancer and cervical cancer. The screening
programme is to be developed in three stages at the local,
(147) Westert, G.P., Berg, M.J. van den et al. (eds.) (2008), Dutch
Healthcare Performance Report 2008, RIVM, Bilthoven.
(148) Helse og Omsorgsdepertementet (n.y.), Najonal strategj for
kreftomraded, 2006–09, Oslo.
ht t p : / / w w w. re g j e r i n g e n . n o / u p l o a d / H O D / Sy k e h u s /
kreftstrategi%202006-2009.pdf
57
ACCESS TO HEALTHCARE AND LONG-TERM CARE: Equal for women and men?
regional and national level. In the first stage, women at high
risk for this disease are tested, on recommendation of the
family doctor. During the third stage, developed at national
level, all women between 25 and 65 years old are tested free
of charge. The programme is planned to be developed over
a three-year period.
Slovenia
The prevention programme for the early detection of
precancerous changes of the cervix (Zora programme) is
intended for women aged 20 to 75. Women in this age group
have the right to receive an examination every three years
after two negative smears taken at 12-month intervals. The
programme has been under way since 2003, and operates
nationwide.
Screening programmes concerning cervix cancer are
widespread: all county councils offer Pap tests at a cost for
the patient or free of charge. The Pap test to prevent cervix
cancer has been offered since the 1970s. All women between
Table 2‑3 — Percentage of women
reporting specific preventive examinations
1996 and 2002 — EU-15
Breast examination
Breast examination
by X-ray
by hand
(mammography)
1996
18.8
16.5
30.6
20.8
11.9
18.7
18.2
4.5
15.0
27.1
18.2
28.4
17.9
17.5
27.5
12.3
2002
21.0
18.8
11.3
17.2
13.0
20.5
23.4
9.7
25.7
30.4
25.8
37.1
33.0
22.9
24.2
12.7
1996
36.8
41.2
52.8
56.3
21.4
29.9
46.8
15.6
28.0
51.6
27.9
52.7
24.8
37.2
33.1
23.2
2002
27.7
33.6
15.1
49.0
17.0
18.8
26.9
24.9
25.3
54.4
11.4
45.8
27.7
25.9
11.2
17.7
Source: Eurobarometer 43.0 and 59.0 in European Commission,
health information. Percentage of women reporting specific
preventive examinations — 1996 and 2002.
http://ec.europa.eu/health/ph_information/dissemination/echi/
echi_15_en.pdf
58
UK
All women between the ages of 25 and 64 are eligible for a
free cervical screening test every three to five years. Cervical
screening began in Britain in the mid-1960s and the NHS
Cervical Screening Programme was set up in 1988 to ensure
that those at greatest risk were being tested, and those who
had positive results were being followed up and treated
effectively. The programme screens almost four million
women in England each year. In 2006/7, the coverage of
eligible women was 79.2 % (150).
Source: EGGSI network national reports 2009.
Sweden
EU-15
Belgium
Denmark
Germany
Greece
Spain
France
Ireland
Italy
Luxembourg
Netherlands
Austria
Portugal
Finland
Sweden
United Kingdom
23 and 50 years of age are called every three years. Between
50 and 60, the screening is every five years. After the age of
50 it is very uncommon to develop cervix cancer (149).
(149) http://www.sjukvardsradgivning.se
(150) NHS Cervical Screening Programme. http://www.cancerscreening.nhs.uk/cervical/index.html
Table 2-3 provides information on the take-up rate of
breast cancer screening programmes in 1996 and 2002
(derived from Eurobarometer) in 15 EU countries. It
shows a great variation among EU-15 countries with
a wider diffusion of breast cancer examinations by
mammography in Austria, Portugal and Luxembourg
and by hand in Luxembourg, Germany and Austria.
Breast cancer prevention programmes as implemented
across Europe generally apply the European guidelines
concerning the target group (50–69 years old). As
shown in the box below (Box 2-5), women on lower
income tend to use these services less often and the
overall take-up rate is varied among countries.
2. Gender differences in access to healthcare
Box 2‑5 — Breast cancer prevention programmes
Austria
Finland
83 % of all women above the age of 40 years have undergone
a mammography for the early detection of breast cancer in
2006 (151).
Nationwide mammography tests were started in 1987.
The tests first covered women aged 50–59, but many
municipalities also included women aged 60–69. In the
early 2000s, a systematic review of the effectiveness of
screening for 60–69 year olds was carried out. The new
regulation (Act 1339/2006) introduced in 2007 included the
60–69 age group in the screening programme, and the law
will be implemented gradually (155).
Belgium
Since 2001 (2002 in Wallonia) a campaign for breast
screening (mamotest) has targeted women aged between
50 and 69. The main results of the evaluation of the
programme (152) show that the current coverage is 59 % of
the eligible population, but there are important disparities
between regions (higher proportion in Flanders). In terms
of accessibility for lower-income groups, women benefiting
from BIM (153) have less coverage (14 % less than other
women). However, they constitute 30 % of the programme’s
participants against 23 % of other women, but they also
leave the programme more frequently (26 % against 23 %).
The percentage of breast screening outside the mamotest
programme is still very high, at 83 %.
Cyprus
The Breast cancer screening programme began as a pilot
programme in July 2003 in one health centre in the capital
Nicosia. The programme is now implemented in all major
areas of Cyprus. The programme is population based and
targets women aged 50–69 years. The programme is offered
free of charge to all women, regardless of whether they are
eligible or not for free public healthcare.
Estonia
Breast cancer is one of the most common malignant
tumours among Estonian women. The mammography
screening pilot projects were first activated in Tallinn in 1996
and in Tartu in 1998, and the early breast cancer detection
project for 2002–06 was financed by the Estonian Health
Insurance Fund. The target group was women aged 45–59
and up to 10 000 women are screened yearly with a mobile
mammography. In May 2009 a one-year campaign, ‘don’t
be late’ for breast screening, started, targeted at women
between the ages of 50 to 65. It is financed by the Health
Insurance Fund (i.e. free for women). Until now only 50 % of
the women who have received the invitation have come to
the screening (154).
France
The Cancer plan launched in 2003 had five targets regarding
cancer detection, among which the implementation at
national level of a programme of breast cancer detection
and the improvement of individual detection for cervix
cancer. If the objectives to implement at national level
breast cancer detection have been met (results need to be
improved for cervix cancer detection), a major problem in
the field of cancer prevention remains the socioeconomic
inequalities in access to prevention. Among women aged
40 and more living in a modest household, 34 % have never
had a mammography (versus 19 % for other women) and
among women aged 20 to 70 living in a modest household,
12 % have never had a Pap smear test (double the number
compared to other women) (156). In the same way, among
women aged 25 to 65 years who do not benefit from
complementary medical insurance, 56 % declare that they
have undergone cervix cancer detection in the last three
years (versus 81 % for others), and among women aged
50 to 74 years who do not benefit from complementary
insurance, 48 % declare that they have had a mammography
in the last two years (versus 80 % for others) (157).
Germany
Mammography screening is only for women between 50 and
69 free of charge and part of the statutory health scheme.
The entitlement for services regarding the early detection
of cancer from the age of 20 onwards (for women) and
from the age of 45 onwards (for men) only refers to general
cancer prevention: mammography screening is only done
when the patient is suspected of having cancer.
Greece
A national screening strategy does not exist. This important
gap is filled by associations, such as the ‘Greek Association
of Women with Breast Cancer’, or the Municipality of Athens
(that offers free mammography to women residing in Athens)
but actions like this have only a limited impact, as they are
localised and do not apply to the whole national territory.
(151) Federal Ministry of Health, Youth and Family (2007), Austrian
Health Survey 2006/2007, Vienna. p. 43. http://www.statistik.at/web_de/dynamic/statistiken/
gesundheit/publdetail?id=4&listid=4&detail=457
(152) Fabri, V., Remacle, A. (2009), Programme de Dépistage
du Cancer du Sein Comparaison des trois premiers tours
2001–02, 2003–04 et 2005–06, Rapport numéro 6, Agence
Intermutualiste, Janvier.
(153) BIM stands for‘Bénéficier d’Intervention Majorée’(Beneficiary of
increased intervention): it is an incremented reimbursement of
healthcare expenses for specific cathegories of beneficiaries.
(154) Eesti Vähiliit. http://www.cancer.ee/?op=body&id=162&cid=
(155) Ministry of Social Affairs and Health — MSAH (2007),
Seulontaohjelmat [Screening programmes. A handbook for
municipal authorities], Helsinki.
(156) Saint Paul de, T. (2007), La santé des plus pauvres, Insee
première, No 1161, October.
(157) Danet, S., Moisy, M. (2009), La santé des femmes en France,
Communication on the work done for the book: ‘La santé des
femmes en France’ (to be published), Drees–French Ministry of
Health and Sports, 8 April 2009, Paris.
59
ACCESS TO HEALTHCARE AND LONG-TERM CARE: Equal for women and men?
Iceland
In November 1987, two nationwide mammography
screening programmes for breast cancer were set up: one
for women who were 35 years old and one for the 40–69 age
group: the first screening round was completed in December
1989 and Iceland was the first country to complete a breast
cancer screening of the whole female population in an age
group, the age group from 40–69 years. In the following
years, the target age was reduced.
Italy
Since 2001, mammography has been recommended by the
Ministry of Health to be provided free of charge to people
in selected age groups: women between 50 and 69. Three
out of four Italian women between 50 and 69 years of
age live in an area with an active breast cancer screening
programme (158).
Latvia
The screening examination of the breast cancer is going to
be introduced in 2009: an invitation is going to be sent to all
women every two years from the age of 50 years onwards.
It is going to be free of charge.
The Netherlands
The breast cancer screening programme is targeted at
women between 50 and 75 years old. This health prevention
programme was initiated at the national level by the Dutch
Ministry of Health, Welfare and Sport in collaboration with
the National Institute for Public Health and Environment
(RIVM). Every two years, all women above 50 years old
receive a breast cancer screening reminder: each year
approximately one million women are invited to undergo
breast cancer screening, and approximately 80 % of these
women actually do participate (159). The examination usually
takes place in a mobile truck and is carried out by a female
healthcare professional. Participation in the breast cancer
screening programme is free, paid by the Ministry of Health,
Welfare and Sport, and not mandatory. In the Netherlands,
the number of breast cancer cases is very high; more than
11 000 women are diagnosed with this disease annually.
2006–15 (161). The programme offers free mammography
examinations and — if needed — further medical
consultations and treatment for women aged 50–69 who
had no such examination during the last 24 months or need
to repeat a mammography within 12 months because they
belong to a group at risk for specific pathologies. Women
diagnosed with a breast cancer are not covered by the
programme (they receive a regular treatment, under health
insurance).
Slovenia
The prevention programme for the early detection of breast
cancer (Dora screening programme (162)) promoted by the
Ministry of Health, Oncological Institute and the Institute
for Public Health Community health centres, is intended
for all women aged 50 to 69. Women from this age group
are personally invited in writing for mammographic
screening every two years. However, the programme was
only launched in 2008 and just in one region, but coverage
is planned for the entire country within three years. The
previous screening programme for the early detection of
breast cancer, which has been under way for several years,
entitled women aged 50 to 69 to undergo a preventive
mammogram every two years. However, women were not
invited to these examinations. In 2007, 64 % of women who
underwent preventive examinations for breast cancer were
aged 40 or over (163).
Sweden
All county councils offer mammography: the National
Board of Health and Welfare (NBHW) recommendation is
that all women aged between 40 and 74 are called to be
screened, with the strongest recommendation for the 50–
69 age bracket. Mammography is recommended every 18
months, while every two years is sufficient for older women.
The examination is voluntary (164).
UK
The action programme regarding the prevention, diagnosis
and treatment of breast cancer involves mammography
screening for all women between 50–69, every two years. In
addition, women with a hereditary risk for breast cancer are
followed up more intensively (160).
The National Health Service (NHS) Breast Screening
Programme provides free screening for breast cancer every
three years to all women in the UK aged 50 and over. Set
up in 1988, it was the first screening programme of its kind
in the world. National coverage was reached by the mid1990s. Today, around one and a half million women aged
50–70 are screened in the UK per year. In September 2000,
research demonstrated that the screening programme had
lowered mortality rates for breast cancer in the 55–69 age
group (165).
Poland
Source: EGGSI network national reports 2009.
Norway
Programmes for the early diagnosis of breast cancer are
included in a widespread, longitudinal national programme
for fighting malignant neoplasms set up in 2005 for
(158) Ministero della salute (2007), Libro bianco: La salute della
donna, Stato di salute e di Assistenza nelle regioni italiane,
Rome.
(159) Westert, G. P., Berg, M. J. van den et al. (eds.) (2008), Dutch
Healthcare Performance Report 2008, Bilthoven.
(160) Social OS helsedirektoratet (2007), Najonalt handings med
retningslinjer for diagnostikk, behandling og oppfolging av
pasienter med brystkreft. h t t p : / / w w w. h e l s e d i r e k t o r a t e t . n o / v p / m u l t i m e d i a /
archive/00021/Nasjonalt_handlingsp_21559a.pdf
60
(161) Dz.U. 08.54.325 and regulated by Resolution 47/2006 of the
Council Minister of 4 April 2006.
(162) Ministerstvo zdravotníctva SR, Dora cancer screening
programme. See also http://dora.onko-i.si/
(163) Institute of Public Health of the Republic of Slovenia (2007),
Statistical yearbook on health 2007, Slovenia.
(164) http://www.sjukvardsradgivning.se/allak apitel.asp?
Categor yID=28278&AllChap=True&PreView=ar tikel.
asp?CategoryID=28279
(165) National Health Service — Cancer Screening Programmes,
Sheffield, United Kingdom. http://www.cancerscreening.nhs.uk/breastscreen
2. Gender differences in access to healthcare
Maternity and sexual/reproductive health
because of pregnancy or delivery’ (169). Maternal
deaths occur today in relatively small numbers, but
an analysis of the causes is essential for developing
strategies to prevent them. EGGSI national reports
have described several prevention programmes
addressing maternity. In almost all EU countries,
prenatal screening tests for the most common
risks for foetuses and pregnant women are widely
available and free of charge.
Across Europe many prevention programmes address
maternity. Promoting healthy pregnancy and safe
childbirth is a goal of all European healthcare systems.
Despite significant improvements in recent decades,
mothers and their babies are still often at risk during
the perinatal period, which covers pregnancy,
delivery, and the postpartum period: ‘Perinatal
health problems affect young people — babies and
adults starting families — and, as such, have longterm consequences. Impairments associated with
perinatal events represent a long-term burden for
children and their families as well as for health and
social services. It is increasingly understood that a
healthy pregnancy and infancy reduce the risk of
common adult illnesses, such as hypertension and
diabetes’ (166). In order to better monitor such factors, in
2000 the European Commission launched the project
Peristat — Indicators for monitoring and evaluating
perinatal health in Europe (167) coordinated by Inserm
(France). Building on the work of the Peristat projects,
in 2007 the Commission funded a project for a Better
statistics for better health for pregnant women and
their babies (168) coordinated by Assistance PubliqueHôpitaux de Paris (France). The European Perinatal
Health Report, published in 2008 as a result of this
project, was the first to collect data from 2004 in
all EU countries, including policy-relevant analyses
of maternal and child health outcomes, care
provision, inequalities and migrant health in order
to develop an Action plan for sustainable perinatal
health reporting. Part of the study is dedicated to
mothers’ health: mortality and morbidity associated
with childbearing. ‘Each year more than five million
women give birth in the EU. Another two million
women have failed pregnancies — spontaneous and
induced abortions as well as ectopic pregnancies.
Maternal mortality is considered a major marker of
health system performance, and overall each year
from 335 to 1 000 women die in Europe during and
Other widespread prevention programmes across
Europe concern sexual and reproductive health. The
European Union actively promotes sexual health and
encourages the development of a healthy lifestyle
regarding sexual behaviours (170). This objective, with
a focus on young people, is included in the EU Health
Programme for 2008–13. As reported by the EU-Health
website (171), the EU wants to develop ways to improve
the sexual health status of all citizens and to promote
the exchange of good practices and information to
address major concerns such as teenage pregnancy or
the prevention of sexually transmitted diseases. The
EU has taken steps towards a European partnership
promoting sexual and reproductive health among
young people and vulnerable groups in Europe.
Guiding principles for the improvement of health
in general, and sexual and reproductive health
in particular, have been adopted or reconfirmed
at international assemblies and conferences and
set out in international documents (172). A specific
case of difficult access to birth control options is
(166) Euro-Peristat (2008), European Perinatal Health Report,
Project coordinated by the Assistance Publique-Hôpitaux de
Paris (AP-HP) and the Institut de la santé et de la recherche
médicale (Inserm). http://www.europeristat.com/publications/europeanperinatal-health-report.shtml
(167) European Commission, Directorate-General for Health and
Consumer Protection, Public Health.
http://ec.europa.eu/health/ph_projects/2000/monitoring/
monitoring_project_2000_full_en.htm#7
(168) Euro-Peristat (2008), European Perinatal Health Report, Project
coordinated by the Assistance Publique-Hôpitaux de Paris (AP-HP)
and the Institut de la santé et de la recherche médicale (Inserm).
http://www.europeristat.com/publications/europeanperinatal-health-report.shtml
(169) Euro-Peristat (2008), European Perinatal Health Report,
Project coordinated by the Assistance Publique-Hôpitaux de
Paris (AP-HP) and the Institut de la santé et de la recherche
médicale (Inserm).
http://www.europeristat.com/publications/europeanperinatal-health-report.shtml
(170) See also http://ec.europa.eu/health-eu/my_lifestyle/sex/index_en.htm
(171) European Commission, Health EU, the Public Health Portal.
http://ec.europa.eu/health-eu/my_lifestyle/sex/index_en.htm
(172) See for example several documents concerning Policy and
programmatic issues published on WHO website: http://www.
who.int/reproductivehealth/publications/policy/en/index.
html. Among others: Eliminating female genital mutilation:
an interagency statement — OHCHR, Unaids, UNDP, UNECA,
Unesco, UNFPA, UNHCR, Unicef, Unifem, WHO — 31 December
2008; The WHO Strategic Approach to strengthening sexual and
reproductive health policies and programmes — 31 December
2007; Introducing WHO’s reproductive health guidelines and
tools into national programmes — 31 December 2007.
Many EGGSI national reports have described prevention
projects offering support for mothers with newborn
children or for mothers with special needs: all over
Europe women are offered medical support during
and after pregnancy, while in some countries there
are specific programmes which include other kinds of
support, such as psychological help, antenatal exercises
and birth preparation courses for couples featuring
activities in nursing care.
61
ACCESS TO HEALTHCARE AND LONG-TERM CARE: Equal for women and men?
worth mentioning: it is presented in the Cyprus
EGGSI national report. Here contraceptive options,
such as the male condom, brands of combined oral
contraceptives, the intrauterine device (IUD), and
hormonal intrauterine systems (IUS) are available only
through private clinics, pharmacies at market price,
and at reduced price or for free only by the Cyprus
Family Planning Association (CFPA). Frequently cited
reasons for the scarcity of birth control options in
Cyprus are, on the one hand, physical barriers (the
small population of the island, which means a small
market that would not be sufficiently responsive to
render such technologies profitable for importers)
and on the other hand cultural barriers (conscience
issues) as well as economic barriers (family planning
is left almost entirely to the free market).
Box 2‑6 — Maternal and children health prevention
In Norway for example, maternal health centres offer general
medical services for pregnant women and pre-school children
in a prevention perspective. The focus is on groups/individuals
with special needs, to identify early signals of malaise,
abnormal development and antisocial behaviour. Maternal
and child health centres cooperate with kindergartens and
schools, educational psychological services and child welfare
authorities (173). Special attention is paid to addicted pregnant
women: according to the national health plan, there is an
increased need for knowledge and information on the part
of women that become pregnant within LAR (drug-based
rehabilitation), and their children (174).
Furthermore, there is an ongoing self-help campaign to
support pregnant women to quit smoking. In some countries
families are also supported in their development: the case
of Slovakia is interesting, where a special health programme
focused on women and young girls, called Healthy Family
(173) Norwegian Ministry of health and care services, National
strategy to reduce social inequalities in health.
Report No 20 (2006–07) to the Storting.
h t t p : / / w w w. re g j e r i n g e n . n o / p a g e s / 1 9 7 5 1 5 0 / P D F S /
STM200620070020000EN_PDFS.pdf
(174) Helse og omsorgsdepartementet (2006), For budsjettåret
2007, St.prp.nr. 1 (2006–07). http://www.regjeringen.no/Rpub/STP/20062007/001HOD/
PDFS/STP200620070001HODDDDPDFS.pdf
Domestic violence prevention programmes
An issue specifically affecting women’s health is
domestic violence. The health sector can play a
vital role in preventing violence against women, by
helping to identify abuse early, providing victims
with the necessary treatment, and referring women
to appropriate care. Particularly important for the
purposes of this report is the role of healthcare services
Programme, has the main objective of creating conditions
for healthy and harmonic family development (175). This
programme is a reaction to the recent decreasing birth rate,
the increase of the age of primiparous women (176) and the
increase in the number of children raised in mono-parental
families. The focus is on information about matrimony,
parenthood, contraception, and the risk of drug addiction.
In Italy the current concern is to reduce regional disparities
regarding the care of mothers and their newborn babies
by guaranteeing uniform obstetric and paediatric care
throughout the country. Regarding this, the Healthcare
Plan 2008–09 identified specific priorities through a project
on motherhood and infancy (Progetto Obiettivo Materno
Infantile), which paid specific attention to a particular female
target group, namely women in prison. The Healthcare
Plan 2008–09 invites the regions to carry out specific, direct
programmes/projects to enhance female health issues for
female convicts and their children.
Source: EGGSI network national reports 2009.
(175) Ministry of Health of the Slovak Republic (2007), Koncepcia
Štátnej politiiky zdravia Slovenskej repubiky, Basic principles
and structure of the healthcare system in the Slovak Republic.
http://www.uvzsr.sk/index.html
(176) Refers to women who have given birth only once.
in screening for domestic violence and abuse in order
to prevent the escalation of violence and its short- and
long-term health consequences. From EGGSI national
reports, there emerges a general lack of awareness
among health professionals with regard to existing
support services for victims and thus they are not
always in a position to refer victims to the appropriate
services (177), but some good practices have also been
described (see Box 2-7).
(177) Apostolidou, M., Apostolidou, Z., Payiatsou, M., Mavrikiou, P.
(2007), Evaluation of Services offered to Victims of Domestic
Violence by the National Health Service, Advisory Committee
for the Prevention and Compacting of Violence in the Family. http://www.familyviolence.gov.cy
62
2. Gender differences in access to healthcare
Box 2‑7 — Good practices to combat domestic violence
In Norway gender-based violence and violence within families
are not considered private matters, but a political and public
issue. The first National action plan to combat domestic
violence was launched in 2000, the second in 2004 and the
third in 2007. The third includes also the need to combat
honour-based violence, forced marriages and female genital
mutilation. According to the action plans, domestic violence
can be prevented by factors such as: women participating in
the formal economy at a rate of 80 %, having their own income
and economic power, owning assets. It is considered essential
to make the problem emerge from the private sphere. Other
important measures are: educating the police force and the
public at large, a strong cooperation between the NGOs and
public authorities and involving men in combating violence (178).
Particular attention has been paid to preventing domestic
violence in families of ethnic minority back­grounds (179).
Female genital mutilation is prohibited and punishable by law
in Norway, hence the prevention of female genital mutilation is
an important issue, and the government emphasised
41 measures to combat female genital mutilation in its action
plan. As forced marriages may cause individual trauma, health
personnel are in a key position to identify and treat victims
of forced marriages. Within the action plan against forced
marriages, emphasis was placed on strengthening existing
regional resource centres expertise, including the development
of mental healthcare for victims of forced marriages. One
programme directed towards ethnic minorities was the project
‘Ethnicity and domestic violence 2005–07’. The programme
offered therapy for battered women and battering men,
delivered in a culturally sensitive way, to which both the women
and men participating in the programme responded (180).
In Sweden a project called okejsex.nu launched by Operation
Kvinnofrid (The National Authority Cooperation Project for
Women’s Peace) in November 2007, together with a number of
youth organisations, magazines and municipalities was intended
to address the low awareness regarding sexual violence (181). The
two main objectives of the project were to increase awareness
about sexual violence and its extent (including definitions of
sexual violence, when and where it happens according to statistics,
etc.). The target group was the young population in Stockholm.
Special emphasis was given to school pupils, young members
active in Internet communities and youth athletic groups.
In Austria the Vienna Women’s Health programme has
developed training measures for hospital staff for the
(178) Hole, A. (2007), Lifting Domestic Violence from the Private
to the Public Sphere, Ministry of children and equality.
http://www.regjeringen.no/en/dep/bld/BLD-arbeider-for-at/
Organisation/Departments/Department-of-Family-Affairsand-Gender-Equality/Director-General-Arni-Hole/LiftingDomestic-Violence-from-the-Priva.html?id=481305
(179) Kjell, Erik Øie (2007), Domestic violence in families with a
minority ethnic background, Ministry of children and equality.
http://www.regjeringen.no/en/dep/bld/BLD-arbeider-for-at/
Other-political-staff/State-Secretary-Kjell-Erik-Oie-Social-De/
Speeches-and-articles-by-the-State-Sectr/2007/Domesticviolence-in-families-with-a-min.html?id=488410
(180) Familievold og Etnisitie (2005), Rapport fra prosjectet. http://www.atv-stiftelsen.no/filer/Fagrapport%20familievold%20
og%20etnisitet%20-%20Alternativ%20til%20Vold.pdf
(181) http://www.okejsex.nu/om/tack
detection of early signs of the consequences of violence. Over
the last decade the Municipal Department — Promotion and
Coordination of Women’s Issues has initiated a number of
research projects, publications, conferences and model projects
on issues like sexual, physical and psychological violence
against women and children (e.g. a model project against
stalking) and subsidises several counselling centres which
support women in these situations, e.g. the 24-hour women’s
emergency helpline and women’s shelters. The concepts and
measures of the Municipal Department for Women’s Issues aim
at removing the taboo associated with these issues and try to
show that violence is a problem of society in order to bring
about structural changes (182).
In the Czech Republic the project ‘Let’s discuss domestic
violence together’ (‘Mluvme spolu o domácím násilí’) (183) was
a joint project supported by AVON cosmetics and the civic
association Accorus. It was an information campaign targeted
at the entire population regarding women and domestic
violence. The main objective was to offer information about the
various forms of domestic violence other than physical violence,
such as types of behaviour that are often not considered
violent (financial restrictions, interference with privacy, e.g.
searching through another’s personal possessions). A non-stop
helpline was set up as part of this campaign. The impact of this
project has been evaluated positively, as the number of calls
to the helpline and contacts at the counselling centre against
domestic violence increased notably since its implementation.
Sexual violence has been on the gender and health agenda
since the first nationwide studies in Finland in the late 1990s.
There are currently many examples of how violence issues have
become increasingly part of general health treatment. Two
good examples are the monitoring of possible interpersonal
violence against young women and the standardised assault
form for victims of violence. In the first case, maternity and
child health clinics, midwives and public health nurses are the
target groups for developing suitable methods for identifying,
addressing and discussing domestic violence (184). Another
example of how the issue of violence is being dealt with in
general healthcare is a tool for improving the legal protection
for assault victims: the assault form is an intervention tool
which can assist healthcare professionals in going over
essential matters with patients at the initial stage. The southern
provincial state office of Finland has already put the assault
form and the emergency care protocol into use (185).
Source: EGGSI network national reports 2009.
(182) City of Vienna (2006), Women’s Health Report 2006, Vienna. w w w. o e b i g. o rg / u p l o a d / f i l e s / C M S E d i to r / W I E N _
Frauengesundheitsbericht2006.pdf
(183) Acorus, Avon proti domacimu nasili. http://www.acorus.cz/cz/novinky/29_acorus-je-partneremprojektu-„avon-proti-domacimu-nasili“.html
(184) Ministry of Social Affairs and Health — MSAH (2008),
Recommendations for the prevention of interpersonal and
domestic violence, Recognise, protect and act, How to guide
and lead local and regional activities in social and healthcare
services (English Abstract), Helsinki.
(185) For details see website of Etelä-Suomen lääninhallitus.
http://www.laaninhallitus.fi/lh%5Cetela%5Csto%5Chome.
nsf/Pages/1498EDC9E1753383C22570A80027DF38
63
ACCESS TO HEALTHCARE AND LONG-TERM CARE: Equal for women and men?
Prevention of depression
Anxiety, depression and stress-related disorders
rank high among the common mental disorders in
the general population in Europe. They are likely to
be the major cause in the increase in the burden of
disability in years to come: according to the most
recent available data (2002) (186), ‘neuropsychiatric
disorders are the first-ranked cause of years lived with
disability (YLD) in Europe, accounting for 39.7 % of
those attributable to all causes. Unipolar depressive
disorder alone is responsible for 13.7 % of YLD, making
it by far the leading cause of chronic conditions in
Europe’ (187). Specific forms of depression, like postnatal or post-partum depression, affect mostly women
while others affect mostly men. They can be dealt
with by implementing prevention programmes at the
primary and secondary level: ‘primary prevention is
directed at reducing the incidence of depression in the
community by reducing risk factors and strengthening
protective factors. Primary prevention is achieved also
by enhancing the coping abilities of people who are
currently without a mental disorder but are believed to
be at risk of developing a particular disorder. Secondary
prevention involves efforts to reduce the prevalence of
a disorder by reducing duration of its effect. Secondary
prevention programmes are usually directed at people
who show early signs and symptoms of a disorder and
the goal is to shorten the duration of the disorder by
early detection and prompt treatment intervention’ (188).
EGGSI national reports cite some national experiences
in this regard.
Box 2‑8 — Good practices to combat depression
In Greece there is a specific national campaign for the
prevention of depression, but it is not specifically targeted at
women (in fact the campaign’s ‘motto’ is ‘depression concerns
everyone’), while significant help is offered by the ‘Fainareti’
Non-Governmental Organisation (funded by the Ministry of
Health), which organises a day centre for the psychological
care of women who suffer from postnatal mental disorders.
Its key priorities and aims are the following: the early
identification (pregnancy and early postpartum period)
of mental disorders and early intervention for women and
their families in order to prevent postnatal mental disorders.
The targets are pregnant women, couples, mothers and
newborns.
In Austria the prevention of postnatal depression was
addressed by a pilot-project carried out as a part of the
Vienna Women’s Health programme in 2001 and 2002
and aimed at reducing the risk of postnatal depression
for pregnant women run by the Vienna programme for
women’s health. A network of all institutions and contact
points dealing with potential cases of postnatal depression
has been established and many data on the incidence of
postnatal depression have been collected. Of the 3 000
women who took part in the questionnaire (2001–02)
(186) WHO (2008), New WHO report: Policies and practices for mental
health in Europe, Factsheet, 10 October 2008. http://www.euro.
who.int/document/mediacentre/fs_mh_10oct2008e.pdf
(187) WHO (2004), Global burden of disease estimates, Geneva. http://
www.who.int/healthinfo/bodestimates/en/index.html
64
based survey 18 % showed indications of depression in the
early stages of pregnancy (up to the 30th week), and 13 %
two weeks before birth. During the period of the Austrian
survey, 28 % showed risky depression values in one of the
four stages that were surveyed. During the project various
prevention and support measures were also tested and
evaluated (189).
A specific programme regarding depression and mental
health targeted at men has been reported in Slovenia. It
concerns the reduction of suicide rates, a problem that
affects men in particular. In 2003 a prevention programme
was launched locally (in the two regions of Celje and
Ravne, where suicide rates are particularly high) to educate
family doctors and general practitioners aimed at the early
identification of people with suicidal tendencies (190).
(189) City of Vienna , Vienna Programme for Women’s Health. http://www.diesie.at/projekte/abgeschlossene_projekte/
nach_themen/schwangerschaft/senkung_ppd.html
(190) Institute for Public Health of the Republic of Slovenia (2005),
Cost efficiency of educational programmes for general
practitioners in early detection of risk factors for suicide in
region Ravne and Celje.
(188) Mental Health Promotion and Prevention Strategies for Coping
with Anxiety, Depression and Stress-Related Disorders in Europe
(2001–03).
http://ec.europa.eu/health/ph_projects/2001/
promotion/fp_promotion_2001_frep_02_en.pdf
2. Gender differences in access to healthcare
Programmes targeted at men
The EGGSI national reports have evidenced that
gendered prevention programmes implemented in
Europe are mainly targeted at women, while specific
male pathologies, where prevention could be useful,
are cited less frequently. This is the case, for example,
of two typical masculine forms of cancer: prostate and
testicular cancers. The first one occurs in older men while
the second usually occurs in young or middle-aged men.
While prostate cancer is widespread, being the fifth
most common cancer in the world and the second most
common in men (191), testicular cancer is far rarer.
According to the WHO-Regional Office for Europe (192)
‘there are no obvious preventive strategies, therefore
screening has been considered to reduce the number
of deaths. Opportunistic screening is widely carried out
but there are no known national programmes to screen
for prostate cancer.’ In several EGGSI national reports,
the experts specify that there are no national screening
programmes for these types of cancers: this is explicitly
mentioned for example in UK, Poland and Estonia. On
the contrary, in the EGGSI national report of Austria
it is stated that 55 % of all men above 40 underwent a
prevention check-up for the early detection of carcinoma
of the prostate, increasing to 70 % for men above 65 (193).
In Finland in the 1990s, the Cancer Society of Finland
developed new methods of mass screening tests also
for typically male cancers to indicate the amount of
prostate specific antigen (PSA) (194). In the Netherlands a
population-based prostate cancer screening programme
is under scientific and policy discussion.
though men can suffer from it as well, but prevention
programmes rarely include men within the target
groups of prevention campaigns.
Old age
In many EGGSI national reports, programmes
addressing osteoporosis are the most frequently cited
among prevention programmes targeting old age.
This disease, in which the bones become porous and
break easily, is one of the most common, debilitating,
and costly chronic diseases in Europe. Wrongly often
thought of as an ‘old woman’s disease’, osteoporosis
affects not only one in three postmenopausal women,
but also one in five men over the age of 50, younger
women and even children. ‘DXA (195) scans are vital in
order to properly diagnose and monitor osteoporosis.
Yet access to bone mineral density measurement is suboptimal in many European countries. Reasons include
limited availability of densitometers, restrictions in
personnel permitted to perform scans, low awareness
of the usefulness of BMD testing, limited or nonexistent reimbursement. Many of the DXA scanners
are not available to the public healthcare system, or
regional disparities mean that some parts of a country
are under-serviced’ (196).
Another example is osteoporosis: a pathology that is
perceived as predominantly affecting women, even
Guidelines are effective tools for promoting
evidence-based clinical practice. Since some aspects
of osteoporosis management vary according to
country (i.e. availability of resources), country-specific
guidelines are required. In 2004, the majority of
European countries had guidelines (apart from some
cases such as Ireland and Cyprus), but an important
next step is to ensure that they are endorsed by their
governments (197).
(191) ‘There were 679 000 new cases of prostate cancer worldwide in
2002, making this the fifth most common cancer in the world
and the second most common in men (11.7 % of new cancer
cases overall); testicular cancer is relatively rare, with 49 000 new
cases annually of 0.8 % of cancers in men’ Parkin, M., Bray, F.,
Ferlay, J., Pisani, P. (2002), Global Cancer Statistics, International
Agency for Research on Cancer, Lyon.
(192) WHO, Should mass screening for prostate cancer be introduced
at the national level? http://www.euro.who.int/HEN/Syntheses/prostate/20040518_3
(193) The survey was carried out from March 2006 to February
2007. Data presented in: Federal Ministry of Health, Youth and
Family (2007), Austrian Health Survey 2006/2007, Vienna. www.
gesundheitsministerium.at/cms/site/artikel.pdf?channel=CH07
13&doc=CMS1187768952223
(194) Finnish cancer organisation (2008), Finnish mass screening
registry 40 years old.
http://www.cancer.fi/english/?x22567552=27328166
(195) DXA is the Dual energy X-ray absorptiometry: it is a means of
measuring bone mineral density (BMD).
(196) International Osteoporosis Foundation (2005), Osteoporosis in
Europe: Indicators of progress and Outcomes from the European
Parliament Osteoporosis Interest Group and European Union
Osteoporosis Consultation Panel Meeting, November 10, Nyon.
(197) International Osteoporosis Foundation (2005), Osteoporosis in
Europe: Indicators of progress and Outcomes from the European
Parliament Osteoporosis Interest Group and European Union
Osteoporosis Consultation Panel Meeting, 10 November, Nyon.
65
ACCESS TO HEALTHCARE AND LONG-TERM CARE: Equal for women and men?
Figure 2‑6 — Number of diagnostic scanners in the EU — ranking
Number of diagnostic scanners in the EU
No of diagnostic (hip DXA) scanners/million population
Hungary
Latvia
Luxembourg
UK (Scotland)
Lithuania
Czech Rep
Poland
Slovakia
UK**
Estonia
Spain
The Netherlands
Italy
Denmark
Ireland
Sweden
Recommended
Finland
Germany
Slovenia
Malta
Austria
France
Portugal
Greece
Cyprus
Belgium
1.1
1.8
2.2
2.6
2.9
2.9
3.9
4.1
4.7
5.4
6.2
7.2
7.5
8
10.1
10.2
10.6*
10.9
10.9
14.2
17.6
19.7
20
24.8
26
29.5
33
* Recommended No of DXA scanners put to optimal use within the public healthcare system from Kanis J.A. Johnell O.
Requirements for the management of osteoporosis in Europe. Osteoporosis Int (2005) 16:229-238
** England, Wales, Northern Ireland
Source: International Osteoporosis Foundation (2005), Osteoporosis in Europe: Indicators of progress and Outcomes from the European
Parliament Osteoporosis Interest Group and European Union Osteoporosis Consultation Panel Meeting, 10 November, Nyon. http://www.iofbonehealth.org/publications/eu-policy-report-of-2005.html
Table 2‑4 — Reimbursement policy in the public healthcare system for diagnostic (DXA) scan
of the hip and spine and average charge for a diagnostic scan of the hip and spine combined
Austria
Belgium
Cyprus
Czech Republic
Denmark
Estonia
Finland
France
Germany
Greece
Hungary
Ireland
Italy
Latvia
Lithuania
Luxembourg
Netherlands
Malta
Poland
Portugal
Slovakia
Slovenia
Spain
Sweden
UK – England, Wales,
Northern Ireland
UK – Scotland
Reimbursement
YES */**
No reimbursement
NO
YES***
YES
YES*
YES*
YES*
NO
YES*
YES*
YES*
NO
YES*
NO
NO
YES*
YES
YES
YES****
YES
YES
NO
YES
YES
YES
YES
Finland
Poland
Lithuania
Czech Republic
Latvia
Germany
Slovakia
Hungary
Slovenia
Estonia
Belgium
Austria
France
Luxembourg
UK
Italy
Cyprus
Ireland
Spain
Netherlands
Portugal
Greece
Denmark
Malta
Sweden
Euro
Free of charge
10 to 15
10 to 15
18
25
30
30
32
33
35
40
50
50
50
70–100 (when paid privately because of lack
of access in the public healthcare system)
75
78 (for those not eligible for coverage)
80
90
100
100
104
188 (covered by healthcare. Patients cannot pay
for examinations performed in a public hospital)
190
335
* With restrictions;
** Varies by region;
*** Extent of reimbursement depends on the individual’s income;
**** Only as part of consultation
Source: International Osteoporosis Foundation (2005), Osteoporosis in Europe: Indicators of progress and Outcomes from the European
Parliament Osteoporosis Interest Group and European Union Osteoporosis Consultation Panel. Meeting, 10 November, Nyon.
http://www.iofbonehealth.org/download/osteofound/filemanager/publications/pdf/eu-report-2005.pdf
66
2. Gender differences in access to healthcare
2.1.3. General treatment
This section focuses on general treatment provisions
where gender differentiation is clearly detectable, such
as treatment for reproductive care and for genderspecific diseases and health risks, as, for example,
treatments for eating disorders, sexually transmitted
diseases, breast and cervical cancer, home accidents
and domestic violence. Treatment provisions for other
health issues which present gender differences in
terms of the extent and form of the health risks are
also considered, such as health and mental disorders,
heart and cardiovascular diseases, work-related
illnesses and age-related illnesses.
The issue of general treatment is considered in a
threefold manner: description of the difference
between women and men in the use of care; selected
treatment provisions and their gender specificities in
a lifecycle perspective; and programmes to support
the access to healthcare for disadvantaged women.
Gender differences in the use of healthcare
services
Generally women are more aware of their health
status and are more frequent users of healthcare
services than men, due to their reproductive role,
their role as caregivers for dependants (children,
the elderly, the disabled), their higher number
among the older population and also due to gender
stereotypes, since men usually do not consider it
normal to complain about their health and ­visit
physicians.
Men and women show different patterns in the types
of health services they use. Overall, women are more
likely than men to make use of preventive services.
Available Eurostat data relative to the year 2004 shows
that in most European countries, women represent a
higher percentage of inpatient hospitalisation and
consult doctors more often than men (Figures 2-7 and
2-8 and Annex, Table 2).
Figure 2‑7 — Inpatient hospitalisation of women and men during the past 12 months
(%) in some EU Member States and Iceland and Norway, 2004 (increasing order)
20
Women
Men
15
10
5
Hungary
Slovakia
Czech Rep.
Belgium
Iceland
Germany
Norway
Austria
Poland
Latvia
Malta
Estonia
Spain
Cyprus
Bulgaria
UK
Romania
Netherlands
Greece
0
Source: Eurostat data based on national Health Interview Surveys (HIS round 2004: period 1999–2003).
Explanatory note: This indicator is not included in the Indicator list of the EU-level Open Method of Coordination for Social Protection and
Social Inclusion. Data refers to the number of persons (15 years and older) who were hospitalised for more than one day. Data refers to persons
living in private households and for some countries also in institutions like homes for the elderly.
67
ACCESS TO HEALTHCARE AND LONG-TERM CARE: Equal for women and men?
Figure 2‑8 — Consultation of a medical doctor during the past 12 months by women and
men (%) in some EU Member States and Iceland and Norway, 2004 (increasing order)
100
Women
Men
80
60
40
20
Czech Rep.
Germany
Belgium
Hungary
Finland
Spain
Austria
Netherlands
Slovakia
Lithuania
Norway
Malta
Estonia
Iceland
Latvia
Cyprus
Bulgaria
Slovenia
Greece
Romania
0
Source: Eurostat data on Population and social conditions, Healthcare, based on Indicators from the national Health Interview Surveys (HIS
round for 2004: period 1999–2003).
Explanatory note: This indicator is not included in the Indicator list of the EU-level Open Method of Coordination for Social Protection and
Social Inclusion. The 2004 data refers to the years 1999–2003. For most countries, the population covered consists of all persons aged 15 and
over living in private households, and for some countries also in institutions like homes for the elderly.
The share of women who declare they have consulted
a medical doctor during the past 12 months varies
greatly from country to country, ranging from 94.6 %
(compared to 89.4 % for men) in the Czech Republic
to 46.8 % in Romania (compared to 32.6 % for men).
Inpatient hospitalisation rates are much lower, from
18 % in Hungary (compared to 12.5 % for men) to 7.2 %
in Greece (compared to 7.4 % for men). The rates of
inpatient hospitalisation among women compared
to men are especially high in the reproductive age:
women’s rates are much higher than men’s until the age
of 44, while in old age, men present a higher inpatient
hospitalisation rate than women in most countries
(Table 3 in Annex).
Besides age, income and education are also other
important determinants for access to healthcare for
women and men. For similar levels of health needs,
individuals with lower incomes are more likely to
use primary healthcare more intensively, whereas
specialised assistance tends to be underutilised (198). As
long as women tend to have lower income levels than
men, these different patterns in access to healthcare
may also have a gender specificity.
Education also appears to especially affect access to
specialist care rather than other healthcare services,
as better-educated women and men are significantly
more likely to visit healthcare specialists than women
and men with a lower level of education. According
to a recent study considering data collected in nine
European countries (Belgium, Denmark, Estonia,
France, Germany, Ireland, Latvia, Hungary and Norway),
differences in accessing specialist services between
individuals of low and high educational levels are
higher for women than for men (199).
(198) See for instance: Urbanos, R. M. (2004), El impacto de la
financiación de la asistencia sanitaria en las desigualdades,
Gaceta Sanitaria 2004, No 18 (Supl. 1), pp. 90-5 (2004) and
London School of Economics (2007), Health Status and Living
conditions in an enlarged Europe, Monitoring Report prepared
by the European Observatory on the Social Situation — Health
Status and Living Conditions Network, London. http://ec.europa.eu/employment_social/spsi/docs/social_
situation/sso2005_healthlc_report.pdf,
(199) Mielck, A., Kiess, R., Stirbu, I., Kunst, A. (2007), Educational level
and utilisation of specialist care: Results from nine European
countries, chapter 26 in ‘Taking Health Inequalities in Europe:
An Integrated Approach, Eurothine Project.’ http://mgzlx4.erasmusmc.nl/eurothine/
68
2. Gender differences in access to healthcare
Selected treatment provisions in a life cycle
perspective
Gender-specific health-related risk behaviour is
starting to be documented (200) and knowledge
about the necessity to provide gender-specific health
treatment is increasingly diffused. However, gender
differences in most treatments are often not taken into
account, apart from reproductive care (basic service
provisions for pregnant women and childbirth). Some
other common health policies specifically addressed
to women’s health include treatment of breast and
cervix cancer.
The 2009 EGGSI national reports show that women
and men are usually treated in similar ways despite
the fact that problems, resources and needs are often
different. In many cases the knowledge utilised is
based on studies conducted on men, which results
in treatment that is in some cases poorly adjusted to
the needs of women. A recent European Parliament
comparative study also indicates that ‘most research
and clinical trials are done on men and extrapolated to
women, and research on the kinds of treatment that
are best for women remains limited’ (201). In other cases,
different patterns of medical responses towards female
and male patients emerge in treatment, showing, for
example, that the prescription of psychoactive drugs
is much more frequent among women (202).
The physical, psychological and social barriers that
prevent many women from making healthy decisions
are often less visible and seldom addressed by health
treatment programmes and regulations. For example,
there is usually little recognition of gender specificities
in the treatment of some pathologies such as: heart
diseases, sexually transmitted diseases, mental
disorders, or work-related illnesses and of the longterm consequences on women’s health of violence
and abuse. Regulations regarding health and safety
in the workplace usually do not cover housework
and serious domestic accidents are not regularly
(200) See for instance European Parliament (2007), Discrimination
against women and young girls in the health sector, DirectorateGeneral Internal Policies, by the European Institute of Women’s
Health, Brussels. http://www.europarl.europa.eu/sides/getDoc.do;jsessionid=42
D62CA22BDD5134ABE684A2B6C616BC.node1?pubRef=-//EP//
TEXT+TA+P6-TA-2007-0021+0+DOC+XML+V0//EN
(201) European Parliament (2007), Discrimination against women and
young girls in the health sector, Directorate-General Internal
Policies, by the European Institute of Women’s Health, Brussels.
http://www.europarl.europa.eu/sides/getDoc.do;jsessionid=42
D62CA22BDD5134ABE684A2B6C616BC.node1?pubRef=-//EP//
TEXT+TA+P6-TA-2007-0021+0+DOC+XML+V0//EN
(202) Velasco Arias, S. (2008), Recomendaciones para la práctica del
enfoque de género en programas de salud, Observatorio de
Salud de la Mujer, Ministerio de Salud y Consumo, Madrid.
recorded and are thus left out of the statistics. Also,
the treatment of some diseases related to gendered
behaviours, such as alcohol addiction and alcoholrelated diseases, which are predominantly — although
not exclusively — a male problem, do not consider
gender differences sufficiently.
Health service provisions targeted specifically at men
are also little recognised, even if in some countries
there is an increasing attention to these issues. For
example in Austria and in Norway health and resource
centres for men have been established with the aim
to increase knowledge on health issues relevant for
men and to provide advice on the psycho-social
dimensions of men’s health (203).
Since age is an important determinant in the health
status of women and men, as in the previous sections
on healthcare promotion and prevention the analysis
of access to general treatment services is based on a
life-cycle perspective.
Treatment provisions in childhood and adolescence
Gender differences in access to medical treatment
occur starting from childhood. According to a WHO
Study in childhood (204) boys are presented to doctors
more often than girls, while from puberty onwards,
girls seek medical care more frequently and suffer
more frequently than boys from psychosomatic
complaints and emotional disturbances (headaches,
nervousness, sleep disorders).
In some countries specific programmes have been
implemented for the treatment of eating disorders and
sexually transmitted diseases which particularly affect
girls, while specific healthcare centres for adolescents
have been set up in only a few European countries.
An example is the NGO ‘Friends of the adolescents —
centre for the prevention and healthcare of adolescents
(KEPYE)’ set up in Greece in 2006 within the University
of Athens (205). The centre provides advice, diagnosis,
(203) In Austria the Männergesundheitszentrum (M.E.N), http://www.men-center.at/ and in Norway the Ressurssenter for Men. http://www.reform.no/index.cfm?kat_id=11
(204) Kolip, P. And Schmidt, B., Gender and Health in Adolescence,
Health policy for children and adolescents (HEPCA), series No 1.
Copenhagen, WHO (1999).
(205) European Institute of Women’s Health — EIWH Greece Country
Reports to the European Parliament, 2006. www.eurohealth.ie/countryreport/word/greece.doc
69
ACCESS TO HEALTHCARE AND LONG-TERM CARE: Equal for women and men?
preventive and curative treatment to adolescent
girls for eating disorders, sexually transmitted
diseases [such as condyloma virus infections (206)],
pregnancy and abortion, menstruation difficulties,
cervical inflammations. The centre’s staff is trained in
adolescent medicine and healthcare, and the opening
hours, contacts and interviews are organised so as to
meet adolescents’ needs (207).
also an increasing phenomenon. The proportion of
women who are obese is usually lower than men, but
among 13 year olds, obesity is higher in girls than boys
because girls are less involved in sports and physical
activities (209). Being overweight during adolescence
compromises long-term health, and is associated
with coronary heart diseases, arteriosclerosis (210) and
colorectal cancer.
Healthcare for sexually transmitted diseases
While in many western EU countries there are
specialised clinics or medical centres for treating these
disorders, in eastern EU countries, the healthcare
provision for eating disorders is still underdeveloped,
even if the necessity to establish specialised care is
increasingly recognised.
As discussed in the first chapter, women (especially
young women) are more vulnerable to sexually
transmitted diseases compared to men and the
consequences are more serious for them. Since many
sexually transmitted diseases are asymptomatic in
women, they often go untreated and this represents
a risk factor for HIV.
In some European countries there are programmes
monitoring and treating sexually transmitted and other
communicable diseases. An example is the National
programme for communicable diseases implemented
in Romania, which aims at monitoring and controlling
communicable diseases such as HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis,
hepatitis, etc. The programme is aimed at the
identification and treatment of infected individuals,
early diagnosis/treatment and follow-up of infected
cases. Across the country, different district public
health authorities, hospitals and providers of primary
assistance and research institutes are involved (208).
For example, in Bulgaria the National action plan
on food and nutrition and the National programme
and action plan on mental health have some targets
directed to reducing anorexia and bulimia. The
Ministry of Health is planning to establish special
sectors in psychiatric hospitals and to develop
specialised standards and programmes for treating
eating disorders (211).
In Slovenia the Clinical department for mental health,
which is part of the Psychiatric Clinic in Ljubljana, is
specialised in the treatment of adolescent psychiatry,
eating disorders, crisis interventions, psychotherapy,
and alcohol abuse (212).
Eating disorders, such as bulimia and anorexia, are
more likely to affect teenagers and young women
rather than men (even if cases are becoming more
frequent among young men). Knowledge about
eating disorders is still limited and the percentage of
people with eating disorders is unknown. Obesity is
An interesting programme aimed at increasing
knowledge about eating disorders is the Swedish Riksät
(National Quality Registry for Specialised Treatment for
Eating Disorders) programme which was created in
1999 in order to collect data, increase knowledge and
reduce both personal suffering and costs. In 2007, 64
clinics reported data to Riksät. From 2003 to 2007, 5 396
new treatments started with adolescents and young
women as main beneficiaries (213).
(206) Condyloma refers to an infection of the genitals caused by a
virus called human papilloma virus (HPV), which can affect
both men and women. It is also known as: wart, genital
wart, venereal wart, which can be transmitted during sexual
intercourse. Infection with HPV is very common, although the
majority of people have no symptoms (asymptomatic). Source: http://www.condyloma.org/main.html
(207) European Institute of Women’s Health (2006), Discrimination
against Women and Girls in the Health Sector, Brussels.
http://www.eurohealth.ie/countryreport/pdf/euparlcountryrep.pdf
(208) The Romanian Ministry of Health-Programmes 2008.
(209) European Institute of Women’s Health (2006), Discrimination
against Women and Girls in the Health Sector, Brussels. http://www.eurohealth.ie/countryreport/pdf/euparlcountryrep.pdf
(210) Arteriosclerosis is a condition where arteries become thick,
blocked and inelastic as a result of a film of fat (atheromas)
forming on their walls. It hinders effective blood circulation
depriving the body organs of oxygenated blood. Source: http://arteriosclerosis.org/
(211) European Institute of Women’s Health, 2006, Discrimination
against Women and Girls in the Health Sector, Brussels. http://www.eurohealth.ie/countryreport/pdf/euparlcountryrep.pdf
(212) Psihiatricna Klinika Ljubijana. http://www.psih-klinika.si/index.php?id=113/
(213) Riksät (2008), Nationellt kvalitetsregister för ätstörningsbehandling, Rapport 2006–07.
http://www.kpvcentrum.se/register/riksat/arsrapport_2006-2007.pdf
Healthcare for eating disorders
70
2. Gender differences in access to healthcare
Treatment provisions in reproductive age
Gender-specific health treatment in reproductive age
mostly involves care services for pregnant women
and childbirth, the treatment of specifically female
diseases such as, for example, breast and cervical
cancer and the treatment of domestic violence. In
the other cases, health treatment is usually gender
neutral, even if women and men present differences in
symptoms and outcomes. This is the case for example
in the treatment of heart and cardiovascular diseases,
mental health and addiction, work-related diseases.
Heart and cardiovascular diseases
This is an area where usually general treatment is
considered gender neutral, but where sex- and genderbased differences in detection rates, medication
treatment and survival rates have been observed (214).
Women and men experience heart problems differently
and show different symptoms, which complicates
diagnosis. Men appear to have a better long-term
survival rate than women.
A European Parliament Study (215) refers to recent
research which suggests that fewer women than
men with suspected acute heart attack symptoms
are referred for non-invasive tests and fewer are
recommended for further testing and treatment.
Since women often present different symptoms than
men, there is a higher incidence of unrecognised
myocardial infarction (216) in women than in men. Thus
women treated with ‘male-based’ treatments may not
respond in the expected way and may require different
treatments. There is, however, too little knowledge
about the female heart, given that the majority of
studies have been made on male hearts. Since women
have a high fatality rate associated with a first heart
attack, it is necessary that women with suspected heart
attack be carefully and promptly evaluated.
(214) European Institute of Women’s Health (2006), Discrimination
against Women and Girls in the Health Sector, Brussels.
http://w w w.eurohealth.ie/countr yrepor t/pdf/
euparlcountryrep.pdf
(215) European Parliament (2007), Discrimination against women
and young girls in the health sector, Directorate-General
Internal Policies, by the European Institute of Women’s Health,
Brussels, p. 21.
http://www.europarl.europa.eu/sides/getDoc.do;jsessionid=42
D62CA22BDD5134ABE684A2B6C616BC.node1?pubRef=-//EP//
TEXT+TA+P6-TA-2007-0021+0+DOC+XML+V0//EN
(216) A myocardial infarction (known more commonly as a heart
attack) occurs when the supply of blood and oxygen to an
area of heart muscle is blocked, usually by a clot in a coronary
artery. Often, this blockage leads to arrhythmias (irregular
heartbeat or rhythm) that can cause a severe decrease in the
pumping function of the heart and may bring about sudden
death. If the blockage is not treated within a few hours, the
affected heart muscle will die and be replaced by scar tissue.
Source: http://www.patient.co.uk/health/Myocardial-Infarction(Heart-Attack).htm
Box 2‑9 — Good practice examples
in the treatment of cardiovascular
diseases (CVD)
Treatment of CVD — the Swedish Go Red
campaign
The Go Red campaign was initially started in 2004 by the
American Heart Association (217). In Sweden the Heart–
Lung Foundation promotes the campaign in cooperation
with 1.6 million sports clubs and the Swedish Society of
Cardiologists. The main objective is to raise awareness
and funds so as to secure future research on the female
heart, necessary for equal treatment of heart disorders.
During the 2009 campaign, the programme collected
SEK 5 million (218) to finance two research positions to
increase knowledge on the female heart (219).
The Icelandic Association of Heart
Patients, Hjartaheill
The association, founded in 1983, runs a well-equipped
rehabilitation centre in Reykjavík in cooperation with
other organisations for the treatment of heart patients.
The heart and lung training centre assists about 400
patients, providing daily rehabilitation and permanent
physical training programmes. The main aim of the
association is to improve general health services and
social conditions for heart patients, to improve facilities
and medical equipment in hospitals for research
and the treatment of heart diseases and to create
proper conditions for rehabilitation. They also provide
heart patients with information on their social rights,
e.g. taxation, financial support, insurance, pension,
medical treatment abroad. The association is actually
implementing a special division for women in order to
raise awareness and reach out to more women (220).
Source: EGGSI network national report 2009 – Sweden and Iceland.
(217) Go Red Foundation. http://www.goredforwomen.com.au and http://www.1.6miljonerklubben.com/aktiviteter/gored/
(218) Equivalent to approximately EUR 0.5 million (August 2009).
(219) h t t p : / / w w w . h j a r t - l u n g f o n d e n . s e / K a m p a n j - - kvinnohjartan-2009/om-kampanjen/
(220) Icelandic Association of Heart Patients, Hjartaheill.
http://www.hjartaheill.is/index.php?option=com_content&
task=view&id=107&Itemid=87
71
ACCESS TO HEALTHCARE AND LONG-TERM CARE: Equal for women and men?
The EGGSI national reports present evidence of gender
differences in treatment from heart attacks and
coronary diseases in some European countries.
■■
In Finland, according to recent studies, men receive
more active treatment than women (221).
■■
In Sweden, 55 women per day die from heart
disease and 42 women suffer a cardiac infarction,
yet women are not offered the same treatment as
men (222). According to the Swedish Heart–Lung
Foundation, of four different examined methods
of treatment, women were undertreated in 89 % of
the cases (223). The campaign Go Red — introduced
in March 2006 (see Box 2-9) — is an important
initiative for improving treatment for women
suffering from heart diseases, by raising awareness
on female specificities in heart disease and raising
funds for research on the female heart.
mental health (225). According to the WHO (226), in fact
caregivers are frequently depressed and anxious,
and are likely to use psychotropic medications to
treat their psychological distress due to the heavy
load of their care work.
The seeking of help and treatment patterns for
mental and psychological disorders are also gender
differentiated. Women are more likely to seek help from
their primary care doctor, while men are more likely
to seek specialised care and are the principal users
of inpatient care. Women are also more likely to be
diagnosed with depression and be prescribed moodaltering psychotropic drugs than men with identical
symptoms (227). Girls are heavier medication users as
compared to boys, and these differences persist in
adulthood (228).
Mental healthcare and the treatment of addiction
Gender differences in addiction patterns and in
mental illnesses are usually not recognised in medical
treatment, even if they may affect response to
treatment. For example, there is evidence to suggest
that drugs to induce cessation are not equally effective
for both sexes. In recent years some countries have
promoted specific programmes for the treatment of
addiction and mental health problems targeted at
women (229).
As discussed in Chapter 1, recent research shows that
women are twice as susceptible as men to developing
depression and depression-related problems. In
addition, some common mental disorders present
gender specific risk factors: domestic abuse
usually results in high rates of depression and
anxiety; female single parents and retired women
living alone are at high risk for social isolation
and anxiety; the role overload of working women
with care responsibilities have further impact on
In Iceland a hospital and detoxification clinic run by
an NGO created a special detoxification treatment
programme for women in 1995 (see Box 2-10). In Spain
a programme of the Health and Social Services of the
Women’s Institute, on the basis of an agreement with
the Ministry of Health and Consumption, included a
project for bio-psychosocial assistance to women. This
programme is mainly oriented towards some aspects
of women’s mental health that deserve specific psychosocial attention by primary healthcare professionals.
(221) Kattainen, A. et al. (2006), Coronary heart disease: from a
disease of middle-aged men in the 1970s to a disease of elderly
women in the 2000s, European Heart Journal, 27(3), 296–301.
and Kiiskinen, Urpo, et al. (2008), Terveyden edistämisen
mahdollisuudet. Vaikuttavuus ja kustannusvaikuttavuus
[Evaluation of Health promotion opportunities — effectiveness
and cost-effectiveness], Publications of the Ministry of Social
Affairs and Health 2008:1, Helsinki.
(222) According to statistics from the NBHW, the municipalities
of Sweden, the Open Comparison Registers of the County
Councils and national registers of heart intensive care. Source:
Hjart Lungfonden (2009), Kvinnor underbehandlas vid
hjärtinfarkt, http://www.hjart-lungfonden.se/HLF/Pressrum/Pressmeddelanden/
Kvinnor-underbehandlas-vid-hjartinfarkt/
(223) This might be related to scarce research and knowledge on the
female cardiovascular disease.
(224) Wilkins, D., Payne, S., Granville, G., Branney, P. (2008), The Gender
and Access to Health Services Study, Department of Health,
London.
(225) European Parliament (2007), Discrimination against women and
young girls in the health sector, Directorate-General Internal
Policies, by the European Institute of Women’s Health, Brussels.
http://www.europarl.europa.eu/sides/getDoc.do;jsessionid=42
D62CA22BDD5134ABE684A2B6C616BC.node1?pubRef=-//EP//
TEXT+TA+P6-TA-2007-0021+0+DOC+XML+V0//EN
(226) WHO (2003), Key policy Issues in Long-term care, Geneva.
http://www.who.int/chp/knowledge/publications/policy_
issues_ltc.pdf
(227) http://www.who.int/mental_health/prevention/genderwomen/en/
(228) Kolip, P., Schmidt, B. (1999), Gender and Health in Adolescence,
World Health Organisation, HEPCA series, No 1.
(229) National Centre for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health
Promotion Tobacco Prevention and Information (2001), Women
and Smoking — A report of the Surgeon General, cited in:
European Parliament (2007), Discrimination against women and
young girls in the health sector, Directorate-General Internal
Policies, by the European Institute of Women’s Health, Brussels.
http://www.europarl.europa.eu/sides/getDoc.do;jsessionid=42
D62CA22BDD5134ABE684A2B6C616BC.node1?pubRef=-//EP//
TEXT+TA+P6-TA-2007-0021+0+DOC+XML+V0//EN
■■
72
In the United Kingdom, men are more likely than
women to be referred to heart specialists for surgery
for cardiovascular diseases (CVD) and to be treated
intensively once diagnosed, due to a cultural
perception that this is a male disease (224).
2. Gender differences in access to healthcare
In Germany a network for depression and suicide
addresses post-partum depression.
On the other hand, according to the EGGSI expert
in Cyprus the only closed facility offering long-term
treatment and rehabilitation services for addicts is
only open to men (230). In Malta too, a good-practice
programme aimed at reintegrating people suffering
from mental problems back into the community after
years of institutionalisation is only targeted at men (231).
Box 2‑10 — Good practice examples in the treatment
of addiction and mental healthcare
The SAA National Centre for Addiction
Medicine in Iceland
A special treatment programme for addicted women was
started in the city of Vik in 1995. Women can go for a four-week
treatment specially designed for them at Vik Rehabilitation
Centre. They also receive support from the outpatient wards
in Reykjavik and Akureyri (on the north coast of Iceland) for
a year after completing the treatment programme at Vik.
The outpatient programme includes individual interviews
and a women’s support group. Since the start of this special
programme for women, far fewer women drop out of
treatment before the end of the programme than before.
The programme has encouraged a special type of bonding
among women with alcohol and drug addiction problems
resulting in the establishment of support groups for women
around the country (Kjarnakonur-Strong women), which
help to tackle the distinct types of problems and isolation
experienced by female patient groups (232). In addition, a
cohabitation centre for women started operating at the
beginning of 1996, housing 15 women at a time with room
for children who accompany their mothers. The patients
themselves are responsible for covering part of the costs (233).
The programme on bio-psychosocial
assistance for women in primary
healthcare in Spain
The main action of the programme is the provision of training
courses for health professionals (mostly primary healthcare
doctors) in order to implement a new treatment model for
certain unmet psychosomatic needs identified in women.
The programme is exclusively oriented to enhancing women’s
mental health and quality of life, although the results of the
programme have been monitored in both male and female
patients. It was implemented within the Programme on
(232) Kjarnakonur, support groups for women and their relatives
after receiving treatment. http://www.saa.is/islenski-vefurinn/felagsstarf/kjarnakonur/
(233) SAA, National Centre of Addiction Medicine. http://www.saa.is/enski-vefurinn/rehabilition-program/
Health and Social Services supported by the Women’s Institute
in cooperation with the Public Health Service of Murcia, and
assisted by an external consultant. According to the evaluation
report of the programme, professionals have increased their
knowledge and capacity to address these problems, and they
have acquired greater control over their own stress. Some 77 %
of patients have shown a noticeable clinical improvement of
symptoms and a reduction of medicine consumption. Some
improvements in the efficiency of the health system have
also been detected: greater patient satisfaction, less overuse
of primary healthcare, reduction of medicine consumption,
and less overuse of complementary tests. The project was
identified as a good practice by the information system
‘Practical Experiences and Initiatives in Social Cohesion’ of the
project EUROsociAL, by EuropeAid (234).
The ‘German Network for Depression and Suicide’ is a
widespread German network — present in more than
50 regions and cities — aimed at improving the knowledge
regarding ‘depression’ through information campaigns, to
sensitise the German population on the issue, improve the care
system and improve the living conditions of people affected by
depression. The activities of the network include information
campaigns targeting children and youth, the migrant
population, or other, different campaigns, such as ‘Depression
after giving birth’ or ‘Depression of the elderly’ or ‘Depression
at the workplace’. A pilot project implemented in Nurnberg
in 2001, included hospitals, general practitioners, specialists,
churches and other organisations, aimed to support people
at risk of suicide and to reduce the number of suicides through
an intensive information campaign. The campaign was
financed by the Ministry for Education and Research for two
years, and is now supported by charitable donations (235).
Source: EGGSI network national reports 2009 — Iceland, Spain and
Germany.
(234) EPIC databe, Eurosocial.
http://epic.programaeurosocial.eu/buscador/buscar.php
(235) Deutsches Bündnis gegen Depression.
http://www.buendnis-depression.de/
(230) The ‘Ayia Skepi Therapeutic Community’ is an impatient long
term (12–18 months) therapeutic community that serves
adult depended users of illicit substances. Its main aim is to
assist addicts in recognising and adopting new strategies and
therefore become able to live without the use of substances.
The programme is based on the bio-psychosocial model and
cognitive behavioural theory. http://www.emcdda.europa.eu
(231) Malta National Report on Strategies for social protection and
social inclusion, 2008–10, http://ec.europa.eu/employment_
social/spsi/docs/social_inclusion/2008/nap/malta_en.pdf
http://ec.europa.eu/employment_social/spsi/docs/social_
inclusion/2008/nap/malta_en.pdf
73
ACCESS TO HEALTHCARE AND LONG-TERM CARE: Equal for women and men?
Work-related diseases
Regulations on health and safety at the workplace
mainly cover the risks that men are more commonly
exposed to, while little consideration is given to health
risks women are more likely to experience in female
intensive occupations and sectors. Criteria for hard
work is still based on a traditional vision of heavy work
in construction and industrial sectors as masculine,
and not on work relating to service provision, care
(children, older people) and housework. In addition,
the fact that more women than men are employed in
low-paid, precarious jobs, often entailing poor working
conditions and high health and safety risks (such
as domestic (care) work) is not recognised and paid
domestic work is usually excluded from coverage (236).
The notion of professional illness is interpreted in a
restrictive way and numerous repetitive strain injuries
(RSI) (237) are usually dismissed by insurance schemes (238).
Still little attention is paid by regulations on health
and safety at work to work-related stress due to lack
of job security, psychological and sexual harassment.
Compensation arrangements are more likely to cover
work-related injuries in male-dominated jobs, because
these types of injuries have a more evident work-
(236) Fagan, C., Burchell, B. (2002), Gender, jobs and working
conditions in the European Union, European Foundation for the
Improvement of Living and Working Conditions, Dublin. http://www.eurofound.europa.eu/pubdocs/2002/49/en/1/
ef0249en.pdf
(237) Repetitive strain injury, also known as Cumulative Trauma
Disorder (CTD) and Musculoskeletal Disorder (MSD), is a
potentially debilitating condition resulting from repetitive,
forceful or awkward body movements. Workers in many
jobs (such as those working at assembly lines, cashiers, sign
languages interpreters) or employers using a computer (such as
using keyboards and mouse) are especially at risk.
(238) Vogel, L., L’insoutenable légèreté du travail professionnel des
femmes, in Les politiques sociales ont-elles un sexe Ed. VogelPolsky E, 2001, p. 107.
74
related explanation. As reported in the 2003 study by
the European Agency for Safety and Health at Work ‘if a
multi-factorial work exposure is present, as in many jobs
dominated by women, the resulting disease is much
less likely to be covered by industrial compensation
arrangements, or even, if covered, it is much less likely
to actually receive compensation’ (239).
In addition there appear to be relevant barriers to
women’s participation in rehabilitation programmes.
Some studies conducted in the Netherlands (240) have
found that fewer women than men are rehabilitated
into the workforce after a long spell of ill health; other
studies (241) show that women have a higher risk of
being diagnosed as disabled for work purposes after
the first year of absence due to sickness, whereas men
are more commonly provided with therapeutic support
aimed at their return to work. This also appears to be
due to the attitudes of occupational health physicians
and of employers, who feel that rehabilitation is more
important for men than for women (242).
Disabilities or diseases related to home care and the
care of dependants are usually not considered in
insurance schemes, and no preventive and long-term
care programmes are envisaged in most countries.
(239) European Agency for Safety and Health at Work (2003), Gender
issues in safety and health at work, a review, Luxembourg, p. 107.
http://osha.europa.eu/en/publications/reports/209
(240) Veerman et al. (2000), cit. in: European Agency for Safety and
Health at Work (2003), Gender issues in safety and health at
work, a review, Luxembourg, p. 106. http://osha.europa.eu/en/publications/reports/209,
(241) Houtman et al. 2002, cit. in European Agency for Safety and
Health at Work (2003), Gender issues in safety and health at
work, a review, Luxembourg. http://osha.europa.eu/en/publications/reports/209
(242) Vinke et al. (1999); Cuelenaere (1997) and Doyal (2002), cit. in:
European Agency for Safety and Health at Work (2003), Gender
issues in safety and health at work, a review, Luxembourg.
http://osha.europa.eu/en/publications/reports/209
2. Gender differences in access to healthcare
Box 2‑11 — Current EU directives on health and occupational safety
The European Commission has set minimum requirements
in the field of labour rights and work organisation through
specific directives for ensuring safety and health at work
and for promoting high-quality workplaces and healthy
working environments. The legislation is related to: general
provisions, the workplace and the protection of specific
groups of workers (such as pregnant women, young people
(below 18 years) or temporary workers) (243).
occupational diseases. It applies to all public and private
sectors of activities (industrial, agricultural, commercial,
administrative, service, educational, cultural, leisure,
etc.), except certain specific activities in public and civil
protection services. The directive covers general provisions
for psychosocial issues, such as violence from the public
and work organisation, stress, work-related limb disorders,
which are not covered by other directives.
The 1989 EU framework directive (Council Directive
89/391/EEC) (244) introduced measures (245) to encourage
the improvement of safety and health of workers at work
(Art. 1), by including preventive measures for eliminating
occupational risks due to accidents at work and
Directives regarding safety at work (Council Directive
89/654/EEC) (246) or personal protective equipment
(89/655/EEC) (247) concern the minimum level of worker
safety by general obligation of a well-equipped workstation
and adequate personal protective equipment.
(243) European Agency for Safety and Health at Work (2003), Gender
issues in safety and health at work, a review, Luxembourg, p. 124.
http://osha.europa.eu/en/publications/reports/209
(244) Council Directive 89/656/EEC of 30 November 1989 on the
minimum health and safety requirements for the use by
workers of personal protective equipment at the workplace
(third individual directive within the meaning of Article 16
(1) of Directive 89/391/EEC). http://eur-lex.europa.eu/LexUriServ/LexUriServ.do?uri=CELEX
:31989L0656:EN:HTML
(245) For instance, employers are obliged to identify and evaluate
occupational risks, to provide adequate protective and
preventive services, report on accidents, and to inform, consult
and train their workers and representatives on safety aspects.
This includes, for example, the correct use of machinery
and the means of production, use of adequate personal
protective equipment and safety devices, as well as seeing
to the fulfilment of security requirements by the workers. In
accordance with national laws and practices, the health of the
workers has to be regularly monitored.
Reproductive care
As already mentioned, most European countries offer
widespread services for reproductive healthcare.
In most European countries, accessing the services
of gynaecologists and obstetricians is easier than
accessing other specialised services, and pregnant
women usually receive medical treatment for free even
if they are not insured.
In many countries (such as Norway, Hungary, Italy,
France, Slovenia) besides healthcare at birth, maternity
The protection of specific groups, such as women who
are pregnant or recently gave birth, is guaranteed though
Council Directive 92/85/EEC (248), which introduces
measures to improve the safety and health of pregnant
workers and those who have recently given birth. It includes
requirements for identifying risky work conditions, risk
assessment and provisions for pregnant or new mothers
regarding restrictions, such as provisions for avoiding
contact with chemicals and other hazardous products,
exclusion from night work, as well as female employment
rights issues, maternity leave, ante-natal examinations, and
protection against discriminatory dismissal.
Source: http://europa.eu/legislation_summaries/employment_and_
social_policy
(246) http://www.ueanet.com/facts2/summ/sum-89-654-en.pdf
(247) http://www.ueanet.com/facts2/summ/sum-89-655-en.pdf
(248) http://europa.eu/legislation_summaries/employment_and_
social_policy/health_hygiene_safety_at_work/c10914_en.htm
care services are offered to pregnant women and
children through local health promotion programmes.
In addition to specialised centres and clinics, family
doctors in most countries provide counselling on
family planning and contraception methods. A parallel
network for family planning is usually implemented
by non-governmental organisations. The followup offered by health professionals, including home
visits and health check-ups, usually provides a good
continuation of contact between the family and
health services. Some examples of good practices are
presented in Box 2-12.
75
ACCESS TO HEALTHCARE AND LONG-TERM CARE: Equal for women and men?
Box 2‑12 — Good practices in maternity care services
in some European countries
In Slovenia home-care nursing is available for pregnant
women and women with infants right after the birth of a
child. Home-care nursing is well developed and operates
within local community healthcare centres. It is financed
mainly by the Ministry of Health and the Health Insurance
Institute (249).
In Hungary, the Health Visitors’ services has been operating
since 1915 and is based on a network of district health
visitors (usually women), who inform all families with small
children and (young) mothers as to the benefits they are
entitled to and support their accessibility. They pay special
attention to pregnant women and to young mothers,
initiating social assistance when needed, and placement
in shelters for expectant mothers. They also initiate child
protection measures by providing prophylactic care (250) and
all mandatory inoculations and they guarantee continuous
health and social monitoring. Activities include visits to
families, ongoing care for pregnant women and families with
children, as well as measures for preventing, recognising,
and eliminating health problems and mental and social
risks. Since the Health Act of 1997, health visitors have been
included within the primary care framework (251).
In Sweden, the SFINX (252) programme is aimed at reducing
perineal tearing (253). The percentage of deliveries with third
and fourth degrees of perineal tearing has increased (254)
from approximately 1 % in 1990 to 4 % in 2004, with over
3 000 women affected each year. Possible reasons are the
increased number of assisted deliveries and the increased
size of the babies. Most women recover and do not suffer
from permanent damage, but they still suffer emotionally
(249) Slovenian Ministry of Health, http://www.mz.gov.si/en/
and Slovenian Health Insurance Institute. http://www.zzzs.si/zzzs/internet/zzzseng.nsf
(250) The basic meaning of prophylactic is to prevent or protect from.
Prophylactic treatment, then, is an approach to preventing
a disease or condition before it affects a patient. This might
include, for example, vaccination and regular controls.
(251) Hungarian Government (2004), National Action Plan on Social
Inclusion, Hungary, 2004–06, drafted by the Committee to
combat social exclusion. h t t p : / / w w w. s t o p c s b e. h u / d o w n l o a d. p h p ? c t a g = ­
download&docID=14303
(252) Boij, R., et al. (2008), Aktivt perinealskydd förebygger
sfinkterskador, Stockholm. http://w w w.sfog.se/presentationer_sfogv08/
Perinealskydd%20boj_Roland%20Boij.pdf
(253) Perinatal tearing means that — when giving birth — the
perineum may tear or the caregiver may decide it should be
cut to make a wider opening for the baby’s head, a procedure
called an episiotomy. Tears are more common in women
having their first vaginal birth and range from small nicks and
abrasions to deep lacerations affecting several pelvic floor
muscles, See: Online Medical Library.
http://www.merck.com
(254) Boij, R, et al. (2008), Aktivt perinealskydd förebygger
sfinkterskador. http://w w w.sfog.se/presentationer_sfogv08/
Perinealskydd%20boj_Roland%20Boij.pdf
76
from worry about incontinence, sexual performance and
future pregnancies (255). SFINX was implemented in 2000 at
the County Hospital Ryhov in Jönköping with the aim of
lowering III and IV degree perineal tearing to below 2 %
for all deliveries, as well as to decrease the amount of all
perineal tearing to less than 5 % and to reduce the number
of assisted deliveries. In order to do this, the staff received
continuous education and training one to two times a
year and all perineal tears are analysed and documented.
In 2008, only 1.3 % of all deliveries had III or IV degree
perineal tearing (256).
In Norway, municipalities are required to offer maternity
care through local programmes providing follow-up visits
by health professionals, including home visits and health
check-ups. This facilitates a continuing contact between the
family and health services (257).
In Bulgaria the Maternal health programme guarantees
free access to systematic healthcare from the beginning
of the pregnancy until 42 days after delivery. Women and
adolescent girls are the main targets, but access is still
problematic in remote rural areas (258).
In the Czech Republic, since 2005 the Freedom of choice
programme (Možnost volby) (259) has aimed at mapping the
main critical points of the current maternity care system and
designing viable reforms. The project is divided into three
stages: the first stage was mapping the existing system of
natal care, with particular focus on care during physiological
pregnancy, childbirth and puerperium. These results are
summarised in the ‘Report on the current status of obstetric
care in the Czech Republic.’ (260) The second stage is focused
on the comparison model of natal care in the Czech Republic
and in selected EU countries. In the third phase the current
system of maternity care in the Czech Republic will be
analysed and changes will be proposed.
In France the National Perinatal Plan 2005–07 (261) is aimed
at reducing maternal mortality from 9 to 5 per 100 000 and
perinatal mortality from 6.5 to 5.5 per 100 000, by improving
(255) SKL and Socialstyrelsen (2008), Quality and Efficiently in
Swedish Health Care, Regional Comparisons 2007, Stockholm.
(256) Dagens Medicin, Målmedveten satsning mot bristningar gav
resultat. http://www.dagensmedicin.se/nyheter/2008/08/26/
malmedveten-satsning-mot-b/index.xml
(257) Norwegian Directorate of Health (2008), Health creates welfare
— the role of the health system in the Norwegian Society.
h t t p : / / w w w. h e l s e d i r e k t o r a t e t . n o / v p / m u l t i m e d i a /
archive/00062/Health_creates_welfa_62299a.pdf
(258) Eurohealth (2006), Country report on Health care, Bulgaria.
http://www.eurohealth.ie/countryreport/word/bulgaria.doc
(259) Aperio, Healthy parenting association.
http://w w w.aperio.cz/porodnic t vi/projekt y.
shtml#moznostvolby
(260) Mrzílková Susová, I. (2005), Zpráva o stávajícím stavu
porodnické péče v České republice 2004 [Report on the
current status of obstetric care in the Czech Republic], Praha.
(261) Collet, M. (2008), Satisfaction des usagères des maternités
à l’égard du suivi de grossesse et du déroulement de
l’accouchement, Etudes et résultats, Drees, No 660, September.
2. Gender differences in access to healthcare
the quality and security of maternity care. Another aim is to
improve pregnancy monitoring through interviews before
and after childbirth.
In Poland, the Decent Birth Giving campaign (262) is aimed
at improving the quality of care and medical services
at maternity clinics and obstetric wards. The campaign
was launched in 1994 by a newspaper and has received
considerable feedback and support. Friendly maternity
clinics are nominated and a Foundation with educational
and promotional goals was created in 1996.
In Romania the National Programme for Mother and Child
Health (263), implemented in 2004 but based on a precedent
programme from 1993 onwards, aims at decreasing
maternal mortality by improving the quality and efficiency
of maternity care and supporting intensive therapy
(262) http://www.rodzicpoludzku.pl
(263) The Romanian Ministry of Health — Programmes in 2008.
http://www.ms.ro/fisiere/programe_nationale/17_51_520_
anexa_2-30.03.doc
However, some recent trends described in the EGGSI
national reports may have negative effects on women’s
access to reproductive care and the quality of treatment
they receive. The following present some examples.
■■
In some countries (such as Italy and Poland), as a
result of the restructuring of the health sector (in
Italy) and the increased quality standard in service
delivery (in Poland), in recent years there has been
a decrease in the number of clinics and health
services available to women. This especially affects
decentralised and rural areas, where delivery rooms
and maternity wards in small hospitals and clinics
have been closed.
■■
In Greece, caesarean sections in childbirth are much
more frequent than in other European countries,
representing 52 % of all childbirths, due to the
financial reimbursement system applied in this
country (265).
■■
In Romania a high number of deliveries occur
at home, often without medical assistance and
appropriate prenatal care (266). It is estimated that
as many as half of maternal deaths occur due to
obstetrical risks and that nearly half of the pregnant
women who die during delivery have not received
prenatal care. Women from poor communities
(including the Roma and immigrant women)
or women living in rural/isolated areas have
(265) Mossialos, E., Allin, S., Karras, K., Davaki, K. (2005), An investigation
of Caesarean sections in three Greek hospitals: The impact of
financial incentives and convenience, European Journal of
Public Health, 15 June: pp. 288–295.
(266) European Observatory on Health Systems and Policies (2008),
Healthcare systems in transition, Vol. 10, No 3, Romania Health
System Review, p. 112.
services for new-born babies. The programme offers health
prevention interventions for prophylaxis, screening for the
early diagnosis of birth defects, prenatal and postnatal
services, check-ups and testing for HIV and syphilis, as well
as the provision of powdered milk free of charge. Teenage
mothers are specific targets of the programme.
In the UK postnatal depression prevention intervention was
carried out in primary care. Health visitors (nurses) were
trained in the clinical assessment of postnatal depression
in order to offer psychological intervention sessions to lowrisk women. Evaluation studies report a 32 % reduction in
the numbers of new episodes of depression in mothers (264).
Source: EGGSI network national reports 2009. For the UK case:
European Commission (2008), Prevention of Depression and Suicide,
Consensus paper prepared by Wahlbeck, K. and Makinen, M.,
Luxembourg.
(264) Wahlbeck, K., Makinen, M. (2008), Prevention of depression
and suicide, Consensus paper, European Commission,
Luxembourg.
limited access to information on the importance
of monitoring pregnancy and how to care for
themselves during this period.
Abortion remains a particularly controversial issue for
public health services in many countries. According
to a recent survey on abortion legislation in Europe
carried out by the by the IPPF European Network (267),
the provision of services varies greatly in the different
European countries.
■■
For example, in many countries, such as Poland,
Cyprus, Belgium, Italy, France, Luxembourg and
Portugal, legislation allows for abortion in specific
cases, usually when pregnancy constitutes a threat
to the life or the health of a pregnant woman. In
these countries, if the pregnancy is not considered
a ‘threat to the woman’s health’, access to (legal)
abortion may be denied. In addition, abortion is only
rarely performed free of charge in public hospitals,
and women may also face conscientious objection
by health personnel and long waiting lists. In the
private health sector, on the other hand, abortion
services are usually routinely provided, often upon
the woman’s request. In Cyprus, abortion is only
available through private physicians at a relatively
high price, which makes it particularly difficult for
women from lower income groups, as well as migrant
women, to have recourse to the procedure.
■■
In some European countries (like Ireland), abortion
is strictly regulated and not covered by the state
insurance, so that women travel abroad. In Austria
(267) IPPF (2007), Abortion legislation in Europe, International
Planned Parenthood Federation European Network.
h t t p : / / w w w. i p p fe n . o r g / e n / R e s o u rc e s / Pu b l i c a t i o n s /
Abortion+Legislation+in+Europe.htm
77
ACCESS TO HEALTHCARE AND LONG-TERM CARE: Equal for women and men?
abortion is legal, but not covered by public health
insurance and difficult to access in the western and
rural areas of the country.
■■
■■
■■
In other countries (such as Bulgaria, the Czech Republic,
Denmark, Hungary, Iceland, the Netherlands, Norway,
Spain, Sweden, the UK – except for Northern Ireland),
abortion services are freely accessible and free of
charge under certain conditions concerning the stage
of pregnancy and are also available to girls under
18 years of age with the informed consent of one
of the parents. Non-residents are, however, usually
excluded from access to free abortion services, except
for spontaneous abortions.
In Finland, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Slovakia,
women have to pay part of the costs (either the
hospital fees or a quota of total costs).
In Romania, where contraceptive use remains
low (only 23 % of women and men use modern
contraceptive methods and only 10 % of persons
aged 15 to 49 use condoms) (268), the high rate of
abortion indicates that many women still use this
method as a substitute for contraception.
Oncological care
As previously discussed, in most European countries
there is a well-developed system of screening and
treatment for breast and cervical cancer, while for other
cancer typologies, which are considered men’s diseases,
women tend to face higher barriers in accessing
oncological care. For example, a recent Spanish study (269)
showed that in the case of colorectal cancer (270), women
are less likely than men to be readmitted to the hospital,
even after a check-up for tumour characteristics,
mortality, and co-morbidity (271).
In some cases even accessing treatment for breast
cancer is becoming more difficult. For example in
Cyprus, despite free availability through the public
health services to all cancer patients, there has been
an increase in the use of private services for breast-
(268) European Observatory on Health Systems and Policies (2008),
Healthcare systems in transition, Vol. 10, No 3, Romania Health
System Review, p. 112.
(269) González, J.R., et al. (2005), Sex differences in hospital readmission
among colorectal cancer patients, Journal of Epidemiology and
Community Health 2005, No 59, pp. 506–511.
(270) Colorectal cancer can begin in either the colon or the rectum.
Cancer that begins in the colon is called colon cancer, and
cancer that begins in the rectum is called rectal cancer.
(271) Other studies also indicate that women are less likely to be
screened, as colorectal cancer is considered a men’s disease. See
for example: Stewart, Susan C. (1999), Screening for Colorectal
Cancer in Women: Not Just a Man’s Disease.
78
cancer-related surgery due to the lack of personalised
care in the public sector. For example, patients are not
able to choose their physician and may be treated by a
different doctor depending on availability.
The EGGSI national reports provide the following
examples of oncological care, paying specific attention
to women’s needs:
In Bulgaria specialised territorial units (Regional
Dispensaries for Oncological Diseases) provide
integrated care to cancer patients. Breast cancer
patients receive treatment and care at all the stages of
the disease and all costs are covered by the national
health system.
In Greece the ‘Everybody Pink’ programme has
provided psychological support to women with breast
cancer through a dedicated telephone line since 2006.
The programme is promoted by the Greek Association
of Women with Breast Cancer and is co-financed by
Roche Pharmaceuticals. In the 2007–08 period, over
1 200 calls were registered.
Treatment for domestic violence
In some European countries there is increasing
recognition of domestic violence as a source of physical
and mental illness among women and children and
special healthcare treatment services have been
implemented. Specialised training has been provided
in some cases to general practitioners (GPs) and
emergency room personnel in order to increase their
awareness regarding the physical or mental complaints
of women, victims of partner abuse or domestic
violence.
As shown in the good practices examples described
in the box below, in many countries special initiatives
have been put into effect to strengthen the quality of
public health services in treating sexually and physically
abused children and women. Greater awareness of
domestic violence within all kinds of public services,
including health and medical services is emphasised.
2. Gender differences in access to healthcare
Box 2‑13 — Good practices in the treatment of women victims of domestic
violence and abuse
The Memosa programme (272) in the Netherlands was
promoted in 2006 by the regional public health authority
of Rotterdam-Rijmond, together with the Medical Faculty
of the Radboud University Nijmegen (Women’s Studies).
Ten mothers with children in the area of Rotterdam were
trained as mentors to support other young mothers
with children suffering from partner abuse and living in
isolated situations. For up to 16 weeks, mentors made
weekly home visits to pregnant women and mothers of
children up to 12 years old who suffered abuse or were
at risk of abuse, to promote professional support for
depression, prevention of partner abuse and general
health and mother-child relations. The main target group
was informed and supported to adequately respond to
the threat of domestic violence and positively influence
the behaviour of the abuser. This decreased the chances
that the threat could turn into real domestic violence. In
some cases, the abuser asked for the advice and support of
the mentor and was subsequently referred to the mental
health sector. In addition, the programme provided
specific training to 25 general practitioners in order
to recognise and cope with cases of domestic violence
and partner abuse and to cooperate with local support
organisations. The programme evaluation showed high
participation rates of women of ethnic background.
Despite the overall low number of participants, the
outcomes were significant: partner abuse was reduced
by 50 %; complaints about depression were reduced
by 37 %; and the mentors indicated an improvement of
their social support network. Furthermore, the mentors
reported in over 55 % of the cases that their support in
(domestic) education turned out very positively and
helped to improve the family situation. In some cases, the
partner/father asked the mentor for supportive advice.
In Germany the Signal intervention project to end
violence against women (273) was started in 1999 in the
emergency room of the Benjamin Franklin University
Hospital of Berlin. It provides abused women with support
and treatment. Nurses and physicians have been trained
to identify violence and inquire on abuse, to document
injuries and health problems for use in legal proceedings,
to develop a health plan and to inform and refer victims
to counselling programmes and women’s shelters.
The project has shown the importance of emergency
departments as first contact points for women who
have been victims of abuse and violence. Since 2008,
this project is also active in the German region Baden–
Württemberg and has implemented a programme for
(272) ZonMw — http://www.zonmw.nl/
(273) European Parliament (2007), Discrimination against women and
young girls in the health sector, Directorate-General Internal
Policies, by the European Institute of Women’s Health, Brussels.
http://www.europarl.europa.eu/sides/getDoc.do;jsessionid=
42D62CA22BDD5134ABE684A2B6C616BC.node1?pubRef=-//
EP//TEXT+TA+P6-TA-2007-0021+0+DOC+XML+V0//EN
see also: Bundesministerium für Gesundheit — http://www.bmg.bund.de/
the itinerant treatment of women who have experienced
violence (274).
In Norway, the recent action plan against domestic violence
2008–11 (275) emphasises the importance of acknowledging
at-risk groups of women who are less likely to seek help in
case of domestic violence, such as disabled women, women
with poor language skills, women that have been in Norway
for a short period and women with poor integration in
the labour market. Women with a history of drug abuse or
women with mental health problems are also considered at
risk. The central goal of this new action plan is to offer all
women that have experienced domestic violence a secure
and independent life-situation. A crisis centre for women is
going to be implemented. Training will also be provided for
the personnel at the women’s crisis centre to address special
needs for disabled women, women with a history of drug
abuse and women with poor language skills (276).
In Spain the Women’s Institute has promoted a new Protocol
for the detection of domestic violence cases, which was
set up in various regional administrations, together with
training courses for health professionals, in order to acquire
a better understanding of the physical and psychological
evidence of this phenomenon.
In Iceland, the Emergency reception for victims of rape was
established in 1993 at Landspitali Hospital in Reykjavik in the
Crisis Centre. It is staffed by professionals who have expert
knowledge and special training in treating people who
have experienced a sudden major crisis, like the suicide of
a loved one, natural catastrophes, serious accidents, house
fires, etc. The Emergency unit for victims of rape recruits
specialised professionals to treat this particular group
of patients, offering appropriate services not only to the
victims but also to the abusers. The programme consists of a
medical examination upon arrival by a medical doctor, and
a more comprehensive interview by a nurse and a medical
doctor specialised in legal medicine. This is followed up by
psychological treatment, support and rebuilding of selfawareness and assertive training provided in 10 individual
sessions. Finally, the patient is appointed a legal adviser/
lawyer who will follow her throughout and take care of all
the necessary procedures involved in the process of the
judiciary system in the event that legal action is undertaken.
This service is free of charge for the victims. The great
majority of the users are female, but a growing number of
(274) The project has been implemented in Baden-Wuerttemberg in
2008, supported by the Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs,
See: Pflegebrief (2008), Signal — Intervention gegen häusliche
Gewalt, Modellprojekt in Baden-Württemberg, 18.07.2008.
http://pflegen-online.de/nachrichten/aktuelles/signalintervention-gegen-haeusliche-gewalt.htm?nlp=20080723
(275) Ministry of Justice and the Police (2004), Action Plan Domestic
violence (2004–07), Norway. http://www.regjeringen.no/
upload/kilde/jd/reg/2004/0028/ddd/pdfv/227003-action_
plan_domestic_violence_2004_2007.pdf
(276) Ministry of Justice and the Police (2007), Vendepunkt,
Handlingsplan mot vold i nære relasjoner 2008-2011, Norway.
h t t p : / / w w w. r e g j e r i n g e n . n o / u p l o a d / J D / Ve d l e g g /
Handlingsplaner/Vendepunkt.pdf
79
ACCESS TO HEALTHCARE AND LONG-TERM CARE: Equal for women and men?
males are now among the users. Research indicates that the
number of male victims of sexual crimes or violence might
be higher, since male victims might find it more difficult to
seek help (277). Therefore, in order to reach and to address
problems of access due to gender differences, the staff gives
lectures, speaks at conferences and runs seminars for health
and social care professionals. Clinical guidelines addressing
gender differences are now being developed. Since many
of the victims are children under 18, the team has had to
mobilise a wide range of professional social networks (278).
(277) Tryggvadóttir, A.B. (2008), Eðli og alvarleiki kynferðislegs
ofbeldis hjá þolendum sem leita til Neyðarmóttöku LSH:
Er munur á áfengis- og/eða vímuefnatengdu og öðru
kynferðislegu ofbeldi?, University of Iceland, Social Sciences
Department.
(278) Agnarsdóttir, G., Skúladóttir, S. (1994), A New Rape Trauma
Service at the Emergency Department of the Reykjavik City
Hospital, Arctic Medical Research, Vol.53, Suppl.2., pp. 531–533.
Treatment provisions for the elderly
In some European countries, the project Formation des
professionnels de santé à la violence conjugale (279), funded
by the Daphne Initiative in 1999, aims at improving the
treatment of women suffering from domestic violence
by providing working and training tools for healthcare
workers. Partners of the project were health professionals
and members of aid organisations from France, Spain,
Portugal, Italy and Belgium, which took advantage of
interactive Internet to provide information on practical
advice, detention and medical care for female victims and
their children and practical information, such as guidance
towards other, non-medical assistance.
Source: EGGSI network national reports 2009
(279) European Commission, Daphne Report, Illustrative case No 19
on domestic violence.
http://ec.europa.eu/justice_home/daphnetoolkit/files/
others/illustrative_projects/19_domestic_en.pdf
■■
In Bulgaria (282) the ‘Treatment of osteoporosis with
a pathological fracture programme’ involves only
menopausal women with osteoporotic fractures. The
National Health Insurance covers the cost of diagnostic
and treatment procedures, the specialist’s follow-up
exams and part of the cost of the medication. However,
for women not in the programme, the treatment
costs are not covered by the state and remain largely
unaffordable. To overcome these problems, a National
programme for the limitation of osteoporosis (2006–
10) was launched, to make osteoporosis one of the
priorities of Bulgarian health policy. The main target
groups are menopausal, pregnant and breastfeeding
women. A national network of 56 specialised centres
has been set up for prevention, screening, diagnosis
and treatment. However the financial resources for
this programme have not been set.
■■
In Denmark a specific healthcare programme
is aimed at the elderly over 75 years old. The
programme provides home visits by specialists who
assess the elderly persons’ needs, inform them of
their rights and help them to get the necessary care,
as well as train them in the prevention of home
accidents (283).
■■
In Hungary a national osteoporosis programme
includes several initiatives for the prevention and
treatment of osteoporosis (284).
Women live longer than men and, thus are more
likely to be affected by age-related illnesses and
disabilities. From the scattered research and
data available, it appears that older women are
more affected than men by chronic ailments and
psychological disorders (especially those which
increase with age, such as sleeping disorders and
anxiety problems) ( 280), but they usually receive
less treatment than older men, even if they rely
more often on institutional care than men do (see
Chapter 3 on Long-term care).
As anticipated in previous chapters, menopause and
osteoporosis are treated as women-specific diseases
in old age. However, not all European countries have
specific treatment programmes, and in some cases
discrimination against men has been reported. This
is the case in Belgium where reimbursement for
osteoporosis medication was until recently exclusively
reserved to women. The situation changed after various
legal actions leading to a man affected by the disease
winning his case (281).
Specialised programmes for the treatment of
osteoporosis and other old-age-related illnesses are
reported in the following countries.
(280) European Institute of Women’s Health (2006), Discrimination
against Women and Girls in the Health Sector, Brussels.
http://w w w.eurohealth.ie/countr yrepor t/pdf/
euparlcountryrep.pdf
(281) IEFH, informant from legal service. This is also the case for
reimbursement of medication to men having breast cancer.
80
(282) European Institute of Women’s Health (2006), Discrimination
against Women and Girls in the Health Sector, Brussels. http://w w w.eurohealth.ie/countr yrepor t/pdf/
euparlcountryrep.pdf
(283) Højgaard, B., et al. (2006), Evidensbaseret forebyggelse i kommunerne, Dokumentation af effekt og omkostningseffektivitet,
København, DSI.
(284) http://www.harmonet.hu/cikk.php?rovat=104&alrovat=129&ci
kkid=8125 and Poor, G. (n.y.), A csontritkulás népegészségügyi
jelentõsége, a Nemzeti Osteoporosis Program eddigi
eredményei, Society for Osteoporosis http://www.konzilium.hu/csontrit/content/nop.htm
2. Gender differences in access to healthcare
Treatment provisions for disadvantaged women
Access to healthcare treatment is often difficult for
women who present specific disadvantages, such
as immigrant women and women of ethnic origin,
disabled women, lone mothers, prostitutes, homeless
women. These groups of women often need targeted
programmes able to help them overcome the isolation
and multiple disadvantages they often suffer from.
Women of ethnic origin
In general, the ethnic minority population, and
especially the Roma population, have worse health
conditions than the national population, due to the
effects of hard working conditions, social and economic
exclusion, lack of information and isolation (285).
Women from an ethnic minority background usually
report ‘bad health’ to a greater extent and consider
their health situation worse than men of the same
ethnic group and women of the majority population.
In addition, pregnancies and childbirth tend to present
more difficulties (286).
Differences in language, culture and religious beliefs,
practices and interpretations may lead to less effective
care for ethnic minority women. For example, Muslim
women, or their partners, may be reluctant or even refuse
to be treated by male medical doctors in hospitals, and
all the more by a male gynaecologist. On the other hand,
healthcare workers usually have insufficient experience
and training to address the cultural and religious issues
posed by ethnic minority women. The lack of adequate
preparation by health professionals to adapt to these
aspects reduces the accessibility of these services for
ethnic minority women. In most countries there is also a
lack of information material in minority languages, and
there is a need to develop interpreting and mediating
services to assist ethnic minority women in hospitals.
(285) Corsi, M., Crepaldi, C., Samek Lodovici, M., Boccagni, P., Vasilescu,
C. (2008), Ethnic minority and Roma women in Europe: A case
for gender equality?, report prepared by the Network of experts
in gender equality, social inclusion and health- and long-term
care (EGGSI network) for the European Commission, DirectorateGeneral for Employment, Social Affairs and Equal Opportunities.
http://ec.europa.eu/social/BlobServlet?docId=2481&langId=en;
Fagan, C., Burchell, B. (2002), Gender, jobs and working
conditions in the European Union, European Foundation for
the Improvement of Living and Working Conditions, Dublin.­
http://w w w.eurofound.europa.eu/pubdocs/2002/49/
en/1/ef0249en.pdf
Fagan, C., Hebson, G., ‘Making work pay’ debates from a gender
perspective. A comparative review of some recent policy reforms in
thirty European countries,Report prepared by the Group of Experts
on Gender, Social Inclusion and Employment for the Unit Equality for
women and men, Directorate-General for Employment, Social affairs
and Equal opportunities of the European Commission, Office for Official
Publications of the European Communities, Luxembourg, 2005.
(286) Based on information of the EGGSI network national reports,
2008 for Estonia, Austria, the UK and the Netherlands.
Although equal access to the healthcare systems is
guaranteed in various countries, as is the right to access
public health services in emergency situations, in some
countries access is related to the individual’s legal and
employment status and private health services are very
expensive. The result is that a significant number of
migrants and stateless groups have no proper health
insurance and support. Actually, many immigrants have
no public health insurance due to the lack of a job or
informal employment, so they have to pay high fees for
private health services. For instance, in Bulgaria, ethnic
minority women are often excluded even from services
provided for pregnant women and their children. In the
Czech Republic, pregnant women without legal resident
status are excluded from the public health insurance and
therefore obliged to pay for the more expensive private
health insurance, which might be denied them due to
their high risk. In Greece pregnant migrant women may
experience serious financial difficulties with regard to
their hospitalisation fees (287).
In Cyprus as in other southern European countries,
immigrant women are often employed as domestic
workers in households and often cannot take time
off and are hesitant to ask for time off for healthcare,
especially when needing reproductive care.
In France immigrants are often rejected by health
professionals (288). However, migrant women, less often
than migrant men, renounce medical consultations,
examinations or prescriptions (32 % of men declare they
have totally renounced healthcare compared to 19 %
of women). Immigrant women consult healthcare for
different reasons than men: pregnancy and childbirth
represent 3 out of 10 consultations for women and 7
out of 10 hospitalisations, with a high frequency of risky
pregnancies and complex childbirths (28 % of women
hospitalised) because of precarious life conditions and
because foreign immigrant women (particularly African
women) consult doctors less than other pregnant
women. According to doctors, AME beneficiaries
tend to consult doctors in emergencies (15 % of AME
patients) after having waited until it is quite late (5 %),
this is even worse in the case of hospitalisations (289).
(287) Based on information of the EGGSI network national reports,
2008 for Bulgaria, the Czech Republic and Greece.
(288) According to the French EGGSI network national report, 2009,
two obstacles are reported as limiting immigrants’ access to
healthcare: their own financial difficulties and the refusal from
the part of health professionals because of existing delays for
reimbursement or because they are forced to apply basic social
security tariffs to these patients. More than one third of the AME
(Medical state aid — AME) beneficiaries have experienced such
a refusal, essentially on the part of a doctor or a chemist.
(289) Boisguérin, B. (2004), Etat de santé et recours aux soins des
bénéficiaires de la CMU, Etudes et résultats, Drees, No 612,
December.
81
ACCESS TO HEALTHCARE AND LONG-TERM CARE: Equal for women and men?
In Slovakia, immunisation has become a problem
in poorer Roma communities living in rural areas. In
2005, 6.2 % of paediatric districts did not reach the
90 % level of vaccination (290). The highest percentage
of under-immunised districts was in the eastern part
of Slovakia (Prešov, Košice) which suffer from the
highest unemployment levels, especially in rural areas.
In under-immunised districts, paediatricians have
been doing vaccination directly in Roma settlements
in cooperation with municipalities. In some cases the
insufficient vaccination result depends on the low
number of paediatricians per 10 000 inhabitants in
regions with high demand for paediatric services, the
under-financed local hospital and health centres and
the expensive public transport services from distant
rural areas to district towns.
In some countries specific programmes are aimed
at immigrants. For instance, in Finland, maternity
services reach immigrant women satisfactorily. In
Italy and Germany, while prenatal diagnosis is usually
less widespread among immigrant women, social
protection for pregnancy, maternity and children’s
health is usually ensured for immigrant women (291).
The distribution of information material in different
languages and the multicultural training of health
workers are among the actions carried out to reduce
cultural and language barriers and facilitate the access
of ethnic minority women to the healthcare system.
Some projects, on the other hand, focus on specific
health problems, for example helping the disabled
of national minorities (Latvia), African women with
HIV and women who have suffered from violence or
have mental health problems (Belgium), as well as
women exposed to health risks having suffered genital
mutilation (such as Somali women in Sweden).
Box 2‑14 — Good practices in the treatment of disadvantaged communities
The ‘Tesserino di Temporaneo Soccorso’ is a programme
implemented by the Italian region Emilia-Romagna since
2002 to support access to healthcare treatment for illegal
immigrants, the homeless and people living in situations of
great social disadvantage. Specific attention is given to the
health needs of female immigrant prostitutes. Since 2002,
10 000 persons have used this service.
In Sweden, people of foreign background but with a
residence permit have the same rights to medical care as
people born in Sweden. All children in Sweden have the
right to health and medical care including those seeking
asylum or who are in hiding (292). Asylum-seeking adults have
the right to a health conversation/medical check-up and the
right to ‘immediate health and medical care which cannot
wait’, if the doctor deems it is necessary if the injury or illness
is life threatening or may lead to serious permanent injury
if untreated. If a person is in great pain, she/he may also
receive care. If a woman is pregnant, she will receive free
maternity care. If a woman so chooses, she has a right to an
abortion as well as contraceptive advice services which are
free of charge. There are two reception offices available for
asylum-seeking adults in the Stockholm region.
In some areas of France, Médecins du monde (MDM)
provides free healthcare to socially disadvantaged and
excluded people and to illegal immigrants in particular.
There are 31 free medical centres managed by the
association, one in Paris and others in different towns.
Women represent an increasing proportion (45 %) of the
patients consulting the MDM centres, they are mostly quite
(292) Vårdguiden, Stockholms läns landsting.
(290) Kusá, Z. et al. (2007), Tackling child poverty and promoting the
social inclusion of children, a Study of National Policies, Institute
for Sociology of the Slovak Academy of Sciences, Bratislava.
http://ec.europa.eu/employment_social/spsi/docs/social_
inclusion/experts_reports/slovakia_1_2007_en.pdf
82
young (under 25) or older (55 and over) patients; nine out
of 10 are foreigners, especially from Sub-Saharan Africa,
Maghreb and Romania (293).
In Slovakia, a programme aims to increase the number of
health insurance cards issued and the sensitiveness of
outpatient doctors regarding the health problems of the
Roma, in order to attract disadvantaged communities, such
as refugees and the homeless, to make use of available
healthcare. Community workers carry out outreach training
in health education, disease prevention, maintaining
healthy lifestyles and distribute health education
materials in selected Romani settlements. The programme
supports the cooperation of the 30 Community workers
with schools, field social workers and doctors (general
practitioners for adults, general practitioners for children
and adolescents, gynaecologists, dentists) together with
municipal authorities, health insurance companies and
non-governmental organisations. Due to the involvement
of different groups, the disadvantaged groups are expected
to be better reached (294).
Source: EGGSI network national reports 2009 — Italy, Sweden, France
and Slovakia.
(293) Boisguérin, B., Haury, B. (2008), Les bénéficiaires de l’AME en
contact avec le système de soins, Etudes et résultats, Drees,
No 645, July.
(294) Based on the report of the European Commission (2007), Social
Determinants of Health in the Slovak Republic: A Case Study,
Report prepared by the Expert Group on Social Determinants
and Health Inequalities. http://ec.europa.eu/health/ph_determinants/socio_
economics/documents/slovakia_rd01_en.pdf
(291) EGGSI network national reports 2008, for Finland, Italy and
Germany.
2. Gender differences in access to healthcare
Disabled women
Women with disabilities are particularly vulnerable to
inequalities in the health system, despite their being
usually eligible for free public healthcare. Women with
disabilities, including hearing and sight impairment as well
as physical disabilities, are more at risk of poverty and social
exclusion due to the lack of education and employment
opportunities, physical and social barriers, dependence on
carers, among other reasons. There is very little research
and information on the needs of and healthcare services
received by disabled women in European countries.
The situation in Cyprus is indicative of a more generalised
situation. Representatives of associations and
organisations representing disabled people report a lack
of specialised health personnel in public health centres
and hospitals, and difficulties in access to information
on family planning and sexual and reproductive health,
resulting in the reduced provision of primary and
preventative care (such as breast cancer screening,
Pap tests, etc.). For example, representatives of the
Pancyprian Organisation for the Deaf report that there
are no interpreters for the deaf in public hospitals and
health centres. Furthermore, representatives from the
Cyprus Paraplegics Organisation state that there are no
specialised personnel for prenatal care and that women
with physical disabilities usually undergo caesarean
sections in order to avoid possible complications. In
terms of psychological support, there is no permanent
personnel for psychological support and counselling for
women (and men) with disabilities in public hospitals,
and patients do not have the freedom to choose their
health provider and the location of such health provider.
Thus, despite being eligible for free care in the public
health system, women with disabilities often opt for
private healthcare citing privacy, personalised care, and
choice of health provider as a priority (295).
presented in a recent report by the Irish National
Disability Authority (297).
■■
In Great Britain, in some hospitals there are special
needs advisors in maternity wards which help in
identifying disabled women’s needs and assess
any possible restrictions facing pregnant women
with disabilities. In addition, Maternity Alliance has
produced guidelines for disabled mothers and for
health practitioners to improve the care of disabled
women during pregnancy and after childbirth (298).
■■
In Ireland the Health Service Executive (HSE)
provides a counselling nurses service offering
support to disabled mothers with home visits and
referral to other agencies and organisations of
home support service.
■■
In Belgium: Tof Service provides domestic assistance
to mothers with disabled children.
■■
In Sweden there is an assistance service for the disabled
where it is the disabled person who chooses the
assistant, the content and time schedule of assistance
(which may go from help in caring for children, to help
in getting training or for leisure activities).
Other disadvantaged groups
Single mothers often present higher health risks than
average. They present a higher incidence of mental
problems than married mothers. In terms of access
barriers, single mothers predominantly have the
problem of finding time to consult a health service.
More flexible opening hours and the possibility for
childcare provision during the utilisation of health
services are crucial factors in improving access.
Some interesting programmes to support disabled
mothers or mothers with disabled children are
Prostitutes are another group particularly at risk. There are
no up-to-date statistics on the number of prostitutes and
their living situations. In some European countries there
are however specific healthcare programmes targeted
at prostitutes. In Austria, registered prostitutes undergo
a regular health check-up at the local health authority.
Since the early 1990s, a continuous decline in registered
prostitutes and an increase in the number of illegal
prostitutes has been reported. However, the situation of
immigrant sex workers and trafficked women is particularly
precarious: they have little or no access to the regular
labour market and the public health system, and there
is hardly any information available for these women in
(295) This information was provided during a conference entitled
‘Women with Disabilities and Long-term illnesses: Opportunities
for access to Life’, organised by the National Machinery for
Women’s Rights, Cyprus Ministry of Justice and Public Order, on
17 March 2009.
(296) National Women’s Council of Ireland (2005), Women’s Mental
Health: Promoting a Gendered Approach to Policy & Service
Provision, Dublin: The Women’s Health Council.
(297) National Disability Authority (2006), Exploring the research and
policy gaps — A review of literature on women and disability,
Disability research series No 7. Women’s Education, Research
and Resource Centre (WERRC). Dublin.
http://www.nda.ie/cntmgmtnew.nsf/0/BF3A14B644017A64802
5729D0051DD2B?OpenDocument
(298) Maternity Action. http://www.maternityaction.org.uk/id1.html
In Ireland, the National Women’s Council argue that
the rehabilitation needs of Irish women with mental
illness have been neglected and that health and
social service provision needs to expand to include
housing for mothers with mental illness. In addition,
the need for improving access for reproductive health
services for women with disabilities and for disability
awareness training among health professionals has
been highlighted (296).
83
ACCESS TO HEALTHCARE AND LONG-TERM CARE: Equal for women and men?
their native languages (299). In Cyprus, the Family Planning
Association (CFPA) has launched a specialised educational
programme entitled ‘Age Education for Foreign Artists’
which provides information on different issues, such as
HIV/AIDS, sexually transmitted diseases, contraception.
The programme addresses female third country nationals
who came to Cyprus under the status of ‘artists’, but which
are often employed to work in establishments considered
‘high risk’ for trafficking in women for the purpose of
sexual exploitation (300). Since 1998 the programme is
sponsored by the Ministry of Health. Even though the
‘artiste visa’ is no longer applicable foreign women are
still assisted by the CFPA. About 60–70 lectures per year
are conducted, usually in Russian or English, by CFPAtrained staff and volunteer doctors, including training on
HIV/AIDS, sexually transmitted infections, and safer sex.
Participants are provided with free condoms.
Homelessness was, until recently, seen as a problem
that affected mainly men. It is hard to say to what
extent women are actually affected, as there are no
representative studies on this problem. Women are often
‘invisibly’ homeless, i.e. they react by seeking temporary
solutions: living with family, friends, ‘convenience
partners’or casual acquaintances. This is in part influenced
by specific female behaviour patterns, but could also be
due to a lack of female-specific alternatives in this area.
A good practice in supporting access to healthcare for
homeless women is the ‘women and homelessness
programme’ implemented in Austria.
Box 2‑15 — Good practice:
The Austrian programme
for homeless women
Since 2003 the Supervised living group of the Fonds Soziales
Wien has been responsible for housing and supporting
homeless people. ‘Women and homelessness’ was one of the
central topics of the Fonds Soziales Wien in 2004. An outreach
programme was developed by the neunerAMBULANZ, a
healthcare service of the private association Neunerhaus,
together with the Women’s Health Centre FEM to provide care
for homeless women and men in Vienna who require special
medical or psycho-social attention due to chronic or mental
health problems and to provide assistance for homeless
women which goes beyond mere basic gynaecological care.
The project started at the beginning of 2005 with a mobile
medical team. A follow-up project was launched in 2006 (301).
Source: EGGSI network national report 2009 — Austria.
(301) Federal Ministry of Health, Youth and Family (2008), Women’s
Health Report Austria 2005/2006: Best practice examples, Vienna.
(299) City of Vienna (2006), Women’s Health Report 2006, Vienna.
w w w. o e b i g. o rg / u p l o a d / f i l e s / C M S Ed i to r / W I E N _
Frauengesundheitsbericht2006.pdf
(300) Mediterranean Institute of Gender Studies (2007), Mapping the
Realities of Trafficking in Women for Sexual Exploitation in Cyprus.
http://www.medinstgenderstudies.org/wp-content/uploads/
migs-trafficking-report_final_711.pdf
84
2.1.4. Gender mainstreaming in
healthcare: recent trends
In many European countries, (like Austria, Bulgaria,
Germany, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Norway, Slovenia,
Spain, the Netherlands, and the UK) there is increasing
awareness of the need to acknowledge gender
differences in healthcare. This is the case among
governmental institutions, universities, and especially
NGOs which have traditionally been very active in
providing specialised services to women, ethnic
minorities and other disadvantaged groups. Gendersensitive strategies have been implemented within
healthcare and medical research, and resource centres
and research institutes with special knowledge of
women and health have been created. In addition,
specific training programmes aimed at general
practitioners and healthcare providers have been
implemented. It must nevertheless be noted that
the gender-mainstreaming approach to healthcare
is generally still underdeveloped and, aside from
reproductive care, little taken into account when
offering service provisions.
In Austria women’s health was placed on the
institutionalised political agenda for the first time
at the beginning of the 1990s. Various health
programmes for women have been established in the
main Austrian cities. The Vienna and Innsbruck Women
Health Centres are the most advanced examples of
clinical centres providing integrated services, including
inpatient treatment and outreach activities targeted at
women who face barriers in accessing healthcare, such
as women of ethnic origin or lower educated women.
Furthermore, gender mainstreaming is beginning to be
applied in the Austrian health sector, aimed at analysing
the gender sensitivity of healthcare, health promotion
and health prevention. Since 1995, several women’s
health reports have been published at the federal and
provincial level, such as the Women’s Health Report
Austria 2005/2006 (302).
In Bulgaria, the National action plan for gender equality
promotion (2008–09) for the first time envisages an
annual analysis of the health status of men and women
in a comparative perspective to be elaborated. The
principles of gender equality in access to healthcare
are also addressed in the national programmes for
the prevention, treatment and rehabilitation of drug
addicts, smoking cessation, mental health and the
treatment and control of HIV/AIDS and STD (303). In
(302) City of Vienna (2006), Women’s Health Report 2006, Vienna.
pp. 40–68. w w w. o e b i g. o rg / u p l o a d / f i l e s / C M S Ed i to r / W I E N _
Frauengesundheitsbericht2006.pdf, (303) European Institute of Women’s Health (2006), Discrimination
against Women and Girls in the Health Sector, Brussels.
http://www.eurohealth.ie/countryreport/pdf/euparlcountryrep.pdf
2. Gender differences in access to healthcare
most of these programmes, the main focus is on the
reproductive and sexual health of women. In addition,
women’s health is one of the main programme
directions of the Centre for women’s studies and policy
foundation in Bulgaria.
In Germany a department specifically devoted to
women’s health has been set up within the Federal
Ministry of Health. In addition, the ministry has
conducted two gender mainstreaming projects. Other
governmental institutions, universities and NGOs
have been very active in supporting projects and
programmes in the area of women’s health (304).
In Iceland in the 1980s, the influence of the feminist
movement and Women’s Alliance in Parliament in
Iceland resulted in policy initiatives which progressed
into general treatment programmes in which
gender differences were recognised and the more
gender-specific needs were addressed. Examples
of this approach are the creation in 1995 of a special
treatment programme for women with alcoholic and
drug addiction problems and the creation of an open
multidisciplinary emergency centre for victims of
sexual assaults.
In Ireland the national ‘Plan for women’s health 1997–
99’ and the creation of the Women’s Health Council in
1997 initiated the formal recognition of the gender
dimension in health policy. The National Health
Strategy (2001) identified issues of specific concern to
women and, in parallel, issues of concern to men. Each
of the then existing Health Boards (305) was required to
produce a health plan for the women in its area. The
main achievement appears to have been the beginning
of preventive screening programmes. The current
National Health Strategy identified five target areas
which relate specifically to women (reducing smoking
by young women, national roll-out of cervical and
breast cancer screening, a crisis pregnancy strategy,
policies against domestic violence, a plan for highquality maternity care).
In Italy increasing attention is being paid to gender
differences in healthcare. Gender differentiated data are
becoming available, the national Ministry of Health has
implemented an Internet portal on women’s health (306).
In 2008, a ‘Report on the health situation of women
(304) European Parliament (2007), Discrimination against Women
and Young Girls in the Health Sector, Directorate-General
Internal Policies, Brussels.
http://www.europarl.europa.eu/sides/getDoc.do;jsessionid=42
D62CA22BDD5134ABE684A2B6C616BC.node1?pubRef=-//EP//
TEXT+TA+P6-TA-2007-0021+0+DOC+XML+V0//EN
(305) As reported above, Health Boards have now been replaced by
the Health Services Executive (HSE).
(306) Ministero del Lavoro, della Salute e delle Politiche sociali.
http://www.ministerosalute.it/saluteDonna/saluteDonna.jsp
in Italy’ was produced (307). In addition, a National
Observatory on Women’s Health (ONDa) (308) was created
in 2006 with the aim of increasing research on the main
pathologies affecting women, to propose preventive
strategies and develop actions to promote gender
mainstreaming in healthcare policies. The Observatory
has implemented a nationwide evaluation programme
which awards a ‘pink ribbon’ to those hospitals showing
a commitment to women’s healthcare and high quality
standards in service provisions.
In Norway, the Strategy for women’s health 2003–13
emphasises the need to develop all health and
care services from a gender perspective. A gender
perspective is also acknowledged within clinical
research and development. The government follows
up the national strategy to promote health on a yearly
basis, by focusing on the various measures that are
discussed within the plan. National statistics and an
annual seminar monitor the progress with respect to
the objectives of the plan. The gender perspective is
also acknowledged for ethnic minority policies.
In Slovenia, there are some gender specific
arrangements in the healthcare system. Special
attention is given to the access to health treatment for
women in the field of reproductive health, as they are
entitled to (personal) gynaecologists. Also special focus
is given to pregnant women and women with infants —
through visits of nurses at home. In the field of health
promotion prevention programmes for early discovery
of breast cancer and precancerous changes to the
cervix are implemented. Some promotion campaigns
target specific topics which are relevant for women,
such as coping with stress after birth and the rights of
pregnant women.
In Spain a Quality plan for the national health system
is exclusively devoted to cutting down inequalities
in health, with particular emphasis on gender issues
(Strategy 4). In order to comply with this goal, the plan
defines two separate lines of action: first, to promote
knowledge on gender inequalities in health and to
strengthen the gender approach regarding health
and the training of health professionals, and second,
to promote awareness on issues regarding inequality
through the dissemination of good practices on equity
promotion, aimed at all disadvantaged groups. Most
of these actions are performed by the Observatory of
Women’s Health, created in 2004 as an inter-ministerial
institute, mostly providing publications, intervention
guides and holding congresses for experts and
professionals. Although gender issues have been
(307) Ministro delle Salute (2008), Lo stato di salute delle donne in
Italia, Rome.
http://www.assodisfvg.it/files/rapporto_salute_donna_2008.pdf
(308) Osservatorio Nazionale sulla Salute per la Donna, Italy. http://www.ondaosservatorio.it/index.asp
85
ACCESS TO HEALTHCARE AND LONG-TERM CARE: Equal for women and men?
included regarding specific women’s needs (pregnancy,
menopause, etc.) or the prevention of domestic
violence, there are no specific provisions regarding
unequal treatment concerning common pathologies.
In some eastern European countries, such as the Czech
Republic and Poland, projects focused on gender equality
in access to healthcare treatment have been carried out,
especially by NGOs. They are usually focused on women
reproductive rights and reproductive care. In Poland,
women NGOs are numerous and promote relevant
programmes aimed at women in reproductive age,
women victims of domestic violence and the elderly (309).
Interesting examples of good practices are presented
in Box 2-16.
Box 2‑16 — Good practice examples in some European countries
Austria — Women Health Clinic Innsbruck
Considered to be a very good practice since it is one of the few
initiatives pursuing an integrated approach for promoting
and treating women’s health, this programme not only
provides numerous services including inpatient treatment,
but also aims at addressing a clientele that often faces barriers
in accessing medical institutions — such as migrant women.
The provision of childcare during the opening hours of the
outpatient clinic is particularly positive.
The centre provides information for women of all ages and
from various social and ethnic backgrounds on medical
issues and medical treatment. The focus of the services is
on the provision of integrated, creative, interdisciplinary
health services for women, information on women’s health,
an outpatient clinic and inpatient clinic exclusively for
women. The Women’s Health Clinic is also active in research
on women’s health issues which shall be integrated into the
daily work at the clinic.
The outpatient clinic provides second opinions; considers
the risk of cardiovascular diseases, breast cancer and
malignancy; deals with the clarification of grievances
when psychological strain predominates; offers after-care
for female patients discharged from the gynaecological
department, performs risk evaluation, prevention, checkups, supplies information on current events and lectures
on women’s health issues. In addition, there are special
clinics for Turkish women, Serbo-Croatian women, evening
hours for professional women and specific counselling for
nutrition, social issues and physical therapy.
The inpatient clinic is aimed at women who cannot be treated
as outpatients, e.g. elderly and ill people, women living far
away, or women who prefer female doctors for religious
or cultural reasons. Outreach services include: ‘diagnosis
streets’, health days and outreach work in mosques to reach
Turkish women in particular, for which services are carried
out in Turkish with Turkish medical staff, covering the Tyrol
area and with support from Muslim institutions (310).
UK — ‘Well woman’ clinic
Many General Practitioners’ surgeries offer a ‘well
woman’ clinic where patients may be seen by a female
doctor or a female practice nurse to check current
health status and provide advice on health promotion.
(310) Vienna Programme for Women’s Health. http://www.diesie.at
Many also offer ‘well man’ clinics which are specialised
healthcare for men. They offer men health check-ups,
which usually involve having a blood and urine test
and offer general advice about health issues. Well man
clinics are less diffused than well women clinics (311).
The Netherlands — Gender Guidelines for
General Practitioners
The programme Gender Guidelines for General Practitioners
was initiated in 1997 by the University Medical Centre St.
Radboud (Nijmegen) and financed by ZonMw (312). This
promotion programme was called‘Sex specific care in the work
of general practitioners: three flies in one go’ (‘Seksespecifieke
zorg in de huisartspraktijk: drie vliegen in één klap’) (313). The
key priorities of this programme were threefold: (a) Gender
specific recommendations regarding the NHG (314) standards
for angina pectoris, depression and urine incontinence; (b)
Training in professional behaviour regarding sex specific
recommendations for general practitioners (c) Consolidation
of sex-specific quality measures in the quality policy of the
participating healthcare practices. A training module was also
developed for medical doctors in training and their trainers
on the gender-specific aspects of angina pectoris, depression
and urine incontinence. At the end of the project a qualitative
study was carried out among general practitioners. The
interviews had the implicit goal to draw attention to genderspecific consulting and to emphasise that this topic should
be further included in the everyday practice of general
practitioners. The programme was disseminated on a
national level and the Dutch Council for General Practitioners
supported the diffusion of gender-specific guidelines for the
diseases mentioned. According to the existing evaluation,
the key priorities have been attained.
Source: EGGSI network national reports 2009 — Austria, the
Netherlands, United Kingdom.
(311) Banks, I. (2001), No man’s land: men, illness, and the NHS,
British Medical Journal, No 323, 3 November.
(312) ZonMw — http://www.zonmw.nl/en/
(313) See also: http://www.zonmw.nl/nl/system/zoekresultaten/
delfi/projecten-database/project-detail/?tx_videlfiprojecten_
pi1[project_id]=2000124154
(314) Nederlands Huisartsen Genootschap/Dutch Council for
General Practitioners.
(309) See for instance www.oska.org.pl which gives the most
comprehensive information on support activities of women
NGOs [‘pomoc’ or ‘grupy wsparcia’].
86
2. Gender differences in access to healthcare
2.2.Barriers to accessing service
provisions
higher percentage of unmet medical needs, the figures
ranging from 15.6 in Hungary (women 13.4), 11.7 % in
Germany (w: 10.7), 7.2 % in Spain (w: 5.4 %) to 5.7 % in
the Czech Republic (w: 5 %), 5.5 % in Luxembourg (w:
2.9) 2.7 % in Ireland (2.5 %) and 1.8 % Austria (w: 1.7 %).
The Baltic countries, Poland, Sweden and Hungary
present higher percentages of both women and men
declaring unmet medical needs than the average of
the considered European countries, while the lowest
percentages are in Slovenia, Belgium, Denmark, Austria
and the Netherlands. The countries where women’s
unmet medical needs are the highest are Latvia (28.6 %),
Poland (18 %), Sweden (16.4 %), Lithuania (14.3 %),
Hungary (13.4 %) and Estonia (11.4 %), while the lowest
are in Slovenia (0.2 %), Belgium (0.7 %), Denmark (1 %),
Austria (1.9 %) and the Netherlands (1.9 %).
Healthcare access means the ability to obtain
appropriate healthcare services in a short time and at
a low cost. Even if universal or nearly universal rights
to care are basic principles in most Member States
and most of the EU population is covered by public
health insurance, these basic principles do not always
translate into equal access to and use of healthcare
services. Socioeconomic factors can affect accessibility
to healthcare for specific groups. Low income levels,
lack of mobility (the disabled) or language competence
(migrants), as well as lack of information (people with
low levels of education), time constraints (single
mothers) or lack of services for specific groups explain
differences in access to health systems.
Gender differences are more relevant when considering
the reasons for unmet medical needs: women are
usually more likely than men to be constrained by
barriers to access, such as the cost of medical care,
time and geographical barriers (‘could not afford’,
‘waiting list’, ‘too far to travel’), while men are more
likely than women to declare other reasons such as:
‘could not take time’, ‘fear’, ‘wait-and-see strategies’,
‘didn’t know any good specialist or doctor’ (Figure 2-9).
EU-SILC 2006 data (315) on unmet medical needs show
that women in general are more likely than men
to perceive unmet medical needs, even if gender
differences are small: in the EU-25, on average 7.7 %
of women respondents declare unmet medical needs
relative to 7.5 % of men. Out of these countries, only in
seven (Hungary, Germany, Spain, the Czech Republic,
Luxembourg, Ireland and Austria) do men show a
Figure 2‑9 — People with unmet needs for medical examination (%),
EU-25 and Iceland and Norway, 2006
30
25
20
15
10
5
0
EU*
BE CZ DK DE
EE
IE
EL
ES
FR
IT CY
LV
LT
LU HU MT NL
AT
PL
PT
SI
SK
FI
SE UK
IS NO
Problem of access (could not afford to, waiting list, too far to travel)
Left bar: Men
Other (could not take time, fear, wanted to wait and see, didn't know any good doctor or specialist, other)
Right bar: Women
Source: Eurostat data based on the EU-SILC survey 2006.
Explanatory note: EU refers to EU-25. Data for Bulgaria and Romania are not available for 2006. The reference population is private households
as well as current members over 15 years of age within the national territory at the time of the data collection.
(315) Eurostat (2009), Perception of health and access to healthcare
in the EU-25 in 2007, by Baert, K. and de Norre, B., Statistics in
Focus, No 24/2009, Luxembourg.
http://epp.eurostat.ec.europa.eu/cache/ITY_OFFPUB/KSSF-09-024/EN/KS-SF-09-024-EN.PDF
87
ACCESS TO HEALTHCARE AND LONG-TERM CARE: Equal for women and men?
Barriers to access appear to be particularly relevant
for women in the Baltic countries (especially in Latvia),
in Poland and in Greece. Portugal, Germany and Italy
also show perceptions of unmet needs among women
due to problems of access above the average.
levels especially affect the perception of financial
and geographical barriers to healthcare access. The
Baltic countries, Poland, Portugal, Italy, Germany,
Hungary and Sweden present the highest perception
of unmet needs among women and men in the
lowest quintile and the largest differences between
the respondents’ perception in the lowest and in the
highest income quintile.
Income levels significantly affect the perception of
unmet medical needs. As shown in Table 2-5, income
Table 2‑5 — Unmet needs for medical examination of women and men by lowest
and highest income quintile (%) and reason, EU-25 and Iceland and Norway, 2006
EU-25
Problems of access (could not
afford to, waiting list, too far to
travel)
All reasons
< 20 %
> 80 %
< 20 %
Other (could not take time, fear,
wanted to wait and see, didn’t know
any good doctor or specialist, other)
> 80 %
< 20 %
> 80 %
women
men
women
men
women
men
women
men
women
men
women
men
10.5
10.4
5.8
6.0
6.5
5.7
1.9
1.5
4.0
4.7
3.9
4.5
1.5
Austria
2.9
2.2
2.1
1.6
1.0
0.8
0.4
0.1
1.9
1.4
1.7
Belgium
2.1
2.2
0.1
0.2
2.0
1.5
0.1
0.2
0.1
0.7
:
:
Cyprus
9.2
8.5
3.2
3.1
7.0
6.1
0.6
0.5
2.2
2.4
2.6
2.6
Czech Republic
6.5
6.8
4.7
6.4
1.4
1.4
0.4
0.1
5.1
5.4
4.3
6.3
Denmark
1.8
2.0
1.1
1.1
0.4
:
0.2
0.2
1.4
2.0
0.9
0.9
Estonia
17.2
20.2
6.0
3.7
12.9
17.0
4.2
2.1
4.3
3.2
1.8
1.6
Finland
4.8
4.9
1.6
1.1
4.8
4.6
1.1
0.8
0.0
0.3
0.5
0.3
France
6.9
7.9
2.3
2.9
3.9
4.7
0.7
0.5
3.0
3.2
1.6
2.4
Germany
15.3
17.2
6.9
8.2
9.6
9.2
2.0
2.3
5.7
8.0
4.9
5.9
Greece
10.0
8.1
3.4
3.7
8.5
7.2
1.9
2.1
1.5
0.9
1.5
1.6
Hungary
15.1
18.6
10.6
13.8
4.6
3.1
0.8
0.9
10.5
15.5
9.8
12.9
Ireland
3.5
4.4
0.5
1.7
2.6
2.9
0.2
1.1
0.9
1.5
0.3
0.6
Italy
12.7
10.8
5.0
4.2
9.8
8.3
2.6
1.6
2.9
2.5
2.4
2.6
13.1
Latvia
39.1
34.1
18.9
17.7
31.5
24.8
7.0
4.6
7.6
9.3
11.9
Lithuania
18.3
20.0
10.8
7.5
14.7
12.2
5.0
2.8
3.6
7.8
5.8
4.7
Luxembourg
5.2
7.7
2.1
4.7
0.7
1.1
0.5
0.3
4.5
6.6
1.6
4.4
Malta
6.0
5.5
2.8
2.4
4.0
2.7
1.1
0.6
2.0
2.8
1.7
1.8
Netherlands
3.1
2.3
1.1
0.4
1.5
0.2
0.5
0.2
1.6
2.1
0.6
0.2
Poland
21.9
16.9
16.7
16.6
15.7
10.8
7.2
5.5
6.2
6.1
9.5
11.1
Portugal
11.3
8.6
1.8
1.5
11.2
7.6
1.1
1.0
0.1
1.0
0.7
0.5
Slovakia
12.0
9.0
6.2
5.0
7.7
4.6
0.8
0.7
4.3
4.4
5.4
4.3
Slovenia
0.4
0.3
0.3
0.1
0.3
0.2
0.3
:
0.1
0.1
:
0.1
Spain
6.2
7.4
5.5
8.1
0.9
1.0
0.1
0.3
5.3
6.4
5.4
7.8
Sweden
15.7
16.0
12.9
8.7
4.8
3.2
1.2
1.1
10.9
12.8
11.7
7.6
UK
5.7
5.1
4.3
3.5
2.5
2.8
2.0
1.1
3.2
2.3
2.3
2.4
Iceland
2.8
6.0
3.0
1.1
1.0
1.9
:
0.4
1.8
4.1
3.0
0.7
Norway
4.8
2.3
1.5
1.5
2.2
0.9
0.4
0.9
2.6
1.4
1.1
0.6
Source: Eurostat data based on EU-SILC survey.
http://epp.eurostat.ec.europa.eu/portal/page/portal/product_details/dataset?p_product_code=HLTH_SILC_08
Explanatory note: The equivalised income quintiles are constructed by country; it is an ordered measure of the equivalised income of a
respondent. If a respondent belongs to the first quintile (0 –20 %), this means that they are amongst the 20 % of respondents of their country with
the lowest equivalised income during the income reference period. The equivalised income is calculated from the household income taking into
account household size and composition.
88
2. Gender differences in access to healthcare
The following sections describe the main financial,
cultural and geographical barriers which impede access
to healthcare, focusing on barriers which especially
affect women or men and, among women, the most
disadvantaged groups: disabled women, women of
ethnic origin, older women, teenagers, poor women
and single mothers, based on information provided by
the EGGSI network.
2.2.1. Financial barriers: insurance
coverage and individual costs
The financial cost for the individual is one of the main
barriers to accessing healthcare services. While all
European countries are committed to ensuring access
to adequate healthcare and long-term care, significant
inequalities remain, especially due to the lack of
insurance coverage, the cost of certain (specialised)
types of care (such as dental, ophthalmic and ear
care) which are often not covered by public insurance
schemes, the increasing role of private insurance
schemes and of out-of-pocket costs for care, as well as
the persistence of informal payments in many eastern
(such as Slovakia, Romania, Bulgaria, Hungary, Poland,
Lithuania, Latvia) and southern European (such as
Italy and Greece) countries.
All European countries have achieved almost
universal coverage for healthcare costs for at least
a core set of services (316). EU health systems cover
preventive and public health services, primary
care, ambulatory and inpatient specialist care,
prescriptions pharmaceutical, mental healthcare,
dental care, rehabilitation, home care and nursing
home care. There is however some variation across the
European countries in the range of services covered
by public insurance schemes and the extent of cost
sharing required. In addition, in some countries there
is a gap between what is officially covered and what
is actually available and in some countries informal
additional payments increase the financial barriers to
healthcare. Given that residency is the most common
basis for entitlement to healthcare in the EU, some
population groups are not usually covered by public
insurance: ethnic minorities and especially the Roma
people, homeless people, asylum seekers and illegal
immigrants without identity documents are outside
(316) Thomson, S., et al. (2009), Financing healthcare in the European
Union, Challenges and Policy responses, European Observatory
on Health Systems and Policies, Observatory Studies Series, No 17.
http://www.euro.who.int/document/e92469.pdf
of the public healthcare systems and are often only
guaranteed emergency care services.
The need to contain increasing healthcare costs due
to ageing and new technologies have encouraged
many countries to reform their public–private mix
and introduce cost-sharing schemes with the aim of
reducing costs, moderate healthcare demand and
improve efficiency (317).
Most European countries have introduced out-ofpocket fees to be paid for healthcare services and
medicines; reduced exemptions and introduced
procedures aimed at containing the demand for
health services; supported the development of
private insurance schemes and rationalised the supply
of services by closing clinical centres in peripheral,
low-populated areas. Reproductive care, screening
programmes and mandatory preventive programmes
are usually excluded, but these trends still may
negatively affect access to healthcare, especially for
individuals with poor economic and educational
backgrounds and of ethnic origin.
Tax-based public health insurance schemes remain
however the main funding sources for healthcare
systems in European countries, even if the incidence
of out-of-pocket payments and, to a lesser extent, of
private insurance in financing total health expenditure
has been increasing in most European countries.
Their incidence over total healthcare expenditure
varies greatly from country to country. In 2005, the
incidence of private expenditure on total healthcare
expenditure (Figure 2-10) ranged from the low levels
of Luxembourg (8.2 %), the Czech Republic (11.1 %),
the United Kingdom (12.9 %), Sweden (15.4 %) and
Denmark (15.8 %) to the highest incidence in Greece
(57.2 %), Cyprus (55.7 %) and in some eastern European
countries such as Latvia (43.4 %), Bulgaria (42.4 %) and
Romania (33.9 %).
Since 1996, public expenditure as a proportion of total
expenditure on health has fallen in 17 Member States,
with the largest decline in Belgium, Bulgaria, Estonia,
Hungary and Slovakia; 10 Member States have instead
increased public spending, with the largest rises in
Cyprus, Malta and the UK (318).
(317) London School of Economics (2007), Health Status and Living
conditions in an enlarged Europe, Monitoring Report prepared
by the European Observatory on the Social Situation — Health
Status and Living Conditions Network, London, p. 113.
http://ec.europa.eu/employment_social/spsi/docs/social_
situation/sso2005_healthlc_report.pdf
(318) Thomson, S., et al. (2009), Financing healthcare in the European
Union, Challenges and Policy responses, European Observatory
on Health Systems and Policies, Observatory Studies, No 17, p. 30.
http://www.euro.who.int/document/e92469.pdf
89
ACCESS TO HEALTHCARE AND LONG-TERM CARE: Equal for women and men?
Figure 2‑10 — Public and private expenditure on health as a proportion
of total expenditure on health in the EU-27, 2005 (*)
100
Total public
Private Insurance + Out-of-pocket payments
80
60
40
20
Luxembourg
Czech Rep.
UK
Sweden
France
Denmark
Finland
Ireland
Italy
Austria
Germany
Slovakia
Malta
Estonia
Slovenia
Lithuania
Hungary
Poland
Portugal
Belgium
Spain
Romania
Bulgaria
Netherlands
Latvia
Cyprus
Greece
0
Figure elaborated by IRS.
Data source: European Commission, New common indicators from 2006 for the Open Method of Coordination.
http://ec.europa.eu/employment_social/spsi/common_indicators_en.htm, Indicator HC-C3, based on OECD Data.
(*) 2004 data for RO, HU, LT, SI, EE, MT, LU.
Explanatory note: No data on Private Insurance + out-of-pocket payments available for NL, data for BE + NL: share of current expenditure, data
of EL +UK: separate estimates of private health insurance not available, LU: Only covers cost-sharing element of out-of-pocket spending. Total
public expenditure includes government spending plus social security funds according to System of Health accounts (SHA). Out-of-pocket
payments expenditure is presented as a percentage of total health expenditure.
While all European countries have exemptions or
reductions in relation to cost sharing (319) for specific
groups of the population (usually minors, pregnant
women and mothers of young children, the unemployed,
low-income individuals, the disabled and the chronically
ill), some countries have actually increased the number
of cost-sharing schemes (Czech Republic, France, the
Netherlands, Latvia) or reduced exemptions (Ireland).
The financial cost of healthcare is especially high in
Cyprus and Greece. On the other hand, some countries
(Hungary, Slovakia) have withdrawn the cost-sharing
schemes that were implemented, or improved system
coverage (as, for example, Portugal for dental care) (320).
Private insurance schemes may lead to a regressive
distribution of the financial burden for health services
(low-income people pay proportionally more than
high-income people, due to the difficulty in reducing
health expenditures and their usually worse health
status) and increase inequalities in access to treatment,
especially when private schemes substitute (as in
Germany and in the Netherlands prior to the 2006
reform) or complement (as in France, Denmark and
in Slovenia) statutory public health insurance (321). In
addition, these schemes tend to attract and insure
people with a lower than average expected risk of ill
health and deter those with higher than average risks.
(319) Exemptions usually refer to the exemption from out-of-pocket
payments for prescription pharmaceuticals and/or for medical
examinations for specific groups of population (such as minors,
pregnant women, the unemployed, the chronically ill, low-income
people) or for treatment of chronic illnesses (as, for example,
diabetes). Reductions in cost-sharing usually refer to the lower rates
applied for those with income below a certain threshold and for
those who exceed the annual ceiling in out-of-pocket payments.
(320) European Commission (2009), Proposal for the Joint Report on
Social Protection and Social Inclusion 2009, Commission staff
working document, accompanying document to the Decision
of the European Parliament and of the Council establishing a
European Microfinance Facility for Employment and Social
Inclusion, COM(2009) 58 final, SEC(2009) 141, Brussels. http://eur-lex.europa.eu/LexUriServ/LexUriServ.do?uri=COM:2
009:0058:FIN:EN:PDF
(321) Private schemes substitute public health insurance when they
cover groups of people either excluded from the statutory system
or who are allowed to opt out from it, as in Germany and in the
Netherlands before the 2006 healthcare reform. Private insurance
is complementary to the statutory system, when it either covers
services excluded from the publicly financed benefits package
(like specialist care in most EU countries) or it covers statutory
cost-sharing requirements (as in France, Belgium, Denmark,
Slovenia, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Portugal and Luxembourg).
Supplementary schemes, on the other hand, cover faster access
to care or access to care in the private sector (as in the UK, Ireland
and in most of the Member States). Source: Thomson S., et al.
(2009), Financing healthcare in the European Union, Challenges
and Policy responses, European Observatory on Health Systems
and Policies, Observatory Studies series, No17.
90
2. Gender differences in access to healthcare
For these reasons, some groups of people may not be
able to obtain an affordable level of coverage or any
coverage. Finally, private insurance schemes usually
enable insured people to bypass waiting lists in the
public sector or to obtain higher quality care.
Cost-sharing requirements and lack of public coverage
for certain types of care also create financial barriers
to access healthcare services which may lead to
significant inequalities in access and health status, by
reducing the use of healthcare (especially for specialist
and quality care and prescription drug use) for people
with a low income.
The increasing role of private health insurance and
out-of-pocket payments may also give rise to gender
inequalities in accessing healthcare, men being more
likely to be covered by private insurance than women and
women being higher consumers of healthcare services
and medicines. Women usually have a lower income and
do not benefit from the same kind of company-based
private insurance coverage as men. Women present
lower employment rates in the regular economy (many
women are either inactive or work at home or in the
informal sector) and, when employed, they are more
likely to be employed in the public sector or by small
firms (which are less likely to provide supplementary
private insurance schemes) with part-time and/or with
temporary contracts in low-paying jobs. In addition,
private insurance schemes are less attractive to women
since contributions are usually defined considering age
and gender-specific risks. Women who bear the ‘risk’ of
pregnancy and birth and have a longer life expectancy
risk paying higher contributions than men of the same
age group, even if Directive 2004/113 establishes the
principle of gender-neutral tariffs (322).
Women from ethnic minorities and poor households
may be especially penalised by the privatisation of
health services and the increase in out-of-pocket
spending on healthcare.
Gender effects of financial barriers in national
healthcare systems
European countries use a wide variety of institutional
arrangements to provide health insurance coverage
and to finance and deliver healthcare services. National
differences are relevant in explaining gender gaps in
(322) European Community (2004), Council Directive 2004/113/
EC of 13 December 2004 implementing the principle of equal
treatment between men and women in the access to and supply
of goods and services.
http://eur-lex.europa.eu/LexUriServ/LexUriServ.do?uri=OJ:L:
2004:373:0037:0043:EN:PDF Since the directive allows for exceptions under certain
conditions, all Member States have introduced rules which
allow them to make use of the exception clause and apply
gender differentiated tariffs.
relation to insurance coverage and financial barriers
in accessing healthcare services. While it is difficult to
identify systematic differences, it is possible, however,
to identify at least three different groups of countries
when considering the public–private mix of health
insurance schemes and the coverage and financing of
public insurance systems (as shown in Table 2-6) (323).
The first group is characterised by the presence of
a tax-based, comprehensive national public system
providing universal coverage. In the second, more
numerous, group of countries the public healthcare
system is mainly financed through compulsory social
insurance contributions, while the third group presents
a high incidence of out-of-pocket payments and private
insurance schemes.
In countries with comprehensive national public
systems, the system is usually based on individual
citizenship rights and funded mainly through general
taxation. It is usually centrally organised with some local
level of responsibility (local and/or regional bodies)
and provides universal coverage, with a very limited
presence of private supplementary insurance. Targeted
programmes are often implemented to facilitate access
to healthcare for disadvantaged groups.
The Nordic countries (Denmark, Finland, Iceland,
Norway and Sweden), the UK and Ireland are included in
this group of countries and present the lowest financial
barriers to low income and disadvantaged groups. In
general, healthcare is either free of charge or offered
at very reasonable, state-supported prices up to a predefined cost ceiling. Ireland is however different from the
other countries of this group, because private insurance
schemes cover more than half of the population, playing
a mixed supplementary and complementary role and
offering faster access to care, access to private sector
care and reimbursement of cost sharing.
Some southern European countries (Italy, Spain, Portugal
and Malta) also present a National Public Health Service
which provides universal coverage, without distinction
by gender, age, income and occupational status. In
Italy, Spain and Portugal, however, the management of
healthcare is decentralised to local authorities and this
has increased territorial differences in the quality and
accessibility of healthcare services. In Malta the free
comprehensive public healthcare system is coupled with
means-tested entitlements to pharmaceuticals, dental
and optical care for those with low incomes and the
chronically ill. Around 25 % of the population is covered
by voluntary private health insurance for basic care.
(323) The adopted classification follows the one considered in
Thomson, S., et al. (2009), Financing healthcare in the European
Union, Challenges and Policy responses, European Observatory
on Health Systems and Policies, Observatory Studies Series No 17.
http://www.euro.who.int/document/e92469.pdf
91
ACCESS TO HEALTHCARE AND LONG-TERM CARE: Equal for women and men?
Table 2‑6 — Health insurance coverage, share of population in the EU-27, 2005
Public health insurance
Primary private
health insurance
Private health
insurance (all
types)
1997
2000
2005
2005
2005
Belgium
99
99
99
:
44
Bulgaria
:
:
n.a.
:
:
Czech Republic
100
100
100
:
:
Denmark
100
100
100
:
6.8
Germany
90.8
90.9
89.6
10.2
24.3
Estonia
:
:
94.5
:
:
Ireland
100
100
100
:
51.6
Greece
100
100
100
:
15.6
Spain
99.8
:
99.5
:
11.9
France
99.4
99.9
99.9
:
87.2
Italy
100
:
100
:
:
Cyprus
:
:
n.a.
:
:
Latvia
:
:
n.a.
:
:
Lithuania
:
:
n.a.
:
:
Luxembourg
97.6
98.2
100
:
:
Hungary
100
100
100
:
:
Malta
100
100
100
:
:
Netherlands
74.6
75.6
62.1
35.8
92.8
Austria
99.0
99.0
98.0
:
:
Poland
:
:
97.3
:
:
100
100
100
:
17.4
Portugal
Romania
:
:
n.a.
:
:
Slovenia
:
:
98.7
:
:
Slovakia
100
98.8
97.6
:
:
Finland
100
100
100
:
:
Sweden
100
100
100
:
:
United Kingdom
100
100
100
:
11
Source: European Commission, New common indicators from 2006 for the Open Method of Coordination, http://ec.europa.eu/employment_
social/spsi/common_indicators_en.htm, Indicator HC-P3, based on OECD health data.
Explanatory note: The percentage of the population covered by public health insurance (defined as tax-based public health insurance and incomerelated payroll taxes including social security contribution schemes) and the percentage of the population covered by private health insurance
including private mandatory health insurance, private employment group health insurance, private community-rated health insurance, and
private risk-rated health insurance.
In some of these countries the number of costsharing and private insurance schemes has increased
in recent years, with negative effects on gender and
income inequalities in accessing healthcare services.
For example, according to the EGGSI national reports,
in Denmark, Iceland and Sweden the introduction
of user charges and private insurance schemes
may have increased financial barriers, especially for
women. In Italy in recent years there has been an
92
increase in user co-payments in the public system, a
growing utilisation of private providers with direct
out-of-pocket payments and an increased number of
people with private insurance. In contrast to other EU
countries, the private insurance sector mainly provides
services that substitute rather than complement those
supplied by the NHS. Private health insurance is either
provided by employers as a fringe benefit or directly
purchased by individuals.
2. Gender differences in access to healthcare
Box 2‑17 — Trends in comprehensive national health systems
In Denmark, user charges prevail especially in relation to
medicine consumption and dental treatment. No systematic
knowledge is available to document that user charges
have a gender dimension, but given the income difference
between men and women, user charges might imply a
weaker position for single mothers and ethnic minority
women, especially those outside the labour market. The
chronically ill might also face an implicit reduction in
medicine consumption, even though special rules reduce
the total costs. A more pronounced problem is the increase
in private healthcare insurance paid for by individuals
and/or companies, especially to cover the costs of surgical
treatments. The data is not distributed according to sex,
however based upon the yearly report on fringe benefits
(such as supplementary health insurance, company car,
etc.) (324), men have access to these types of benefits to a
higher degree. This implies a gender difference in the degree
of access to these types of insurance. Furthermore, private
healthcare insurance is prevalent in the private sector, and,
this implies a gender difference due to gender-segregated
labour markets.
Since the enactment of the Social Security Act in 1971, the
Icelandic healthcare system has provided all citizens with
universal, comprehensive healthcare services. Thus the
whole population is covered and no groups are excluded.
Since 1993, the eligibility criteria are based on six months
residence in the country. The system is financed through
general taxation in which earmarking for health or other
public services does not take place. In 2007, public health
expenditure made up 82.5 % of total health expenditure.
Private health expenditure only exists in the form of outof-pocket payments from users. Although out-of-pocket
payments for healthcare in Iceland are quite similar to
other Nordic countries and charges are not very high,
there is evidence of financial barriers impeding access to
healthcare in Iceland. National sources (325) report evidence
that household out-of-pocket health expenditures
increased by 29 % in real terms between 1998 and 2006.
The largest expenditure items in 2006 were drugs, dental
care, equipment, drugstore items, and physician care (in
this order). The highest household expenditure burden was
observed among women, younger and older individuals,
single and divorced, smaller households, the unemployed
and non-employed, individuals with the lowest education
and income, the chronically ill, and the disabled. This
study concluded that household out-of-pocket healthcare
expenditures differ substantially between population
groups in Iceland, and have reached a risky level in affecting
individual and group access to health services (326).
In Ireland, all residents with income below a certain level are
entitled to a means-tested medical card. Holders are entitled
(324) http://www.skm.dk/public/dokumenter/publikationer/
personalegoder/personalegoder2007_rev.pdf
(325) Rúnar Vilhjálmsson, (2009), Direct household expenditure
on healthcare in Iceland, Læknablaðið (The Icelandic Medical
Journal), Forthcoming.
(326) Rúnar Vilhjálmsson, (2009), Direct household expenditure
on healthcare in Iceland, Læknablaðið (The Icelandic Medical
Journal), Forthcoming.
to free primary care from a local GP and free prescription
medicines as well as other medical services. There is a
separate means-tested GP card for those with incomes above
the medical card threshold which entitles holders to free GP
visits only. Those without either medical card must pay their
own costs and therefore purchase health insurance which is
tax deductible. Traditionally medical cards covered over a
third of the population (327). Recent government policy has
involved a major reorganisation and centralisation of the
public health system and a greater use of private provision.
According to the most recent data, 25 % of the population
has a medical card, and 49 % have private insurance, while
3 % have both medical card and health insurance (328).
In Sweden, since the mid-nineties, inequalities in accessing
healthcare re-emerged with low-educated people using
outpatient care to a lesser extent than those with a higher
educational level. In 2006, 15 % of the population in need of
medical attention was not getting it, which is high compared
to other EU countries (329) . This is still more common among
female blue-collar workers: 16.1 % of female blue-collar
workers were in this situation, relative to 10.7 % female
white collars, 12.0 % male blue collars and 8.4 % male white
collars. In the 2006 Swedish national public health survey,
people were asked whether they had refrained from buying
medicine for which they had received a prescription (330)
during the preceding three months. The result showed
that more women (7 %) than men (6 %) had refrained from
buying medicine. This was also more common among the
unemployed women with long-term illnesses.
In Finland, public healthcare services are open to
everyone. Local healthcare centres and public hospitals
charge customer fees for which there is a state-regulated
maximum amount (ceiling) per year. Individual ceilings for
yearly healthcare costs have been introduced to reduce
the financial burden on users of healthcare. The ceiling
for municipal healthcare fees is EUR 590 per year and it
accumulates from all municipal healthcare services except
health services during home visits or dental healthcare.
Once a patient has exceeded the yearly ceiling, outpatient
healthcare becomes free of charge and the fee for shortterm inpatient care in hospitals drops to about a half of the
original. There are separate ceilings for yearly payments for
prescribed medication (EUR 643 per year) and transportation
costs (EUR 157 per year) regarding healthcare. Medication
and transportation fees below the ceiling are partially
compensated by the National Health Insurance. If the
ceilings are exceeded, medication will cost EUR 1.5 per
medicine and transportation becomes free of charge (331).
(327) Tussing, A.D., Wren, M.-A. (2006), How Ireland Cares: The case
for healthcare reform, Dublin.
(328) Smith, Samantha (2009), Equity in Health Care: A view from the
Irish Health Care System, Adelaide Hospital Society, Dublin.
(329) Eurostat, data based on EU-SILC survey: People with unmet
needs for medical examination in Sweden, by sex and median
equivalised income quintile (%).
(330) Folkhälsoinstitutet (2008), Health on Equal Terms, Results from
the 2006 Swedish National Public Health Survey, Östersund.
(331) Finnish Ministry of Social Affairs and Health. http://www.stm.fi/sosiaali_ja_terveyspalvelut/asiakasmaksut
93
ACCESS TO HEALTHCARE AND LONG-TERM CARE: Equal for women and men?
Most of those who exceeded the payment ceiling for
municipal healthcare costs or medication costs were over
the age of 75, but some middle-aged groups also exceeded
the ceiling for medication costs. Categorised by income
levels, the majority of those who exceeded ceilings were
from low-income groups. Information on the accumulation
of costs towards ceilings is not available by gender. There
is no ceiling for costs accumulated from services of private
healthcare specialists. NHI reimbursements for specialist
care nowadays counts for about 25 % of the total costs
compared with about 40 % in the 1990s. At the household
level, the share of households that use private specialist
services decreased from 33 % to 22 % between 1990 and
2006 in the lowest income deciles and increased from 59 %
to 64 % in the highest income deciles. At the individual level,
the women’s share of the use of private specialist services
also increased according to income level. Their use of the
services was, however, much higher than men’s in all income
levels, and the income level affects men’s use of private
services very little if at all (332). The main reason why women
use private specialist services more than men is because
specialist services in gynaecology are available mainly in
the private sector.
In Italy, since the nineties user co-payments both for
medicines and health services have been increasing,
together with private insurance coverage. Private insurance
coverage allows services to be obtained through private
(332) Haataja, Anita et al. (2008), Yksityisiä terveyspalveluja käyttävät
kaikki väestöryhmät. Toiset enemmän kuin toiset [All population
groups use private specialists, some however more than others,
only in Finnish], Sosiaalivakuutus 6/2008, 34–35.
providers who are not accredited by the NHS, which usually
ensures easier, quicker access to services and often more
comfortable healthcare settings.
In the UK, the NHS offers universal healthcare, free at the
point of need and access. In theory, the only potential
financial barrier to effective treatment is the cost associated
with prescriptions in England. The cost from 1 April 2009
for a single prescription is GBP 7.20 or GBP 104.00 for a
12-month prepayment certificate (PPC). However certain
categories of patients are exempt from prescription
charges. These include pregnant women and patients on
low incomes, many of whom are women (333). In January
2009 the government announced a plan to exempt patients
with long-term conditions, starting with cancer patients.
In Wales, prescription charges were scrapped altogether
on 1 April 2007 and in 2007 the Scottish executive
announced plans to reduce charges annually with the
aim of phasing them out completely by 2011. In addition,
the government has recognised that the traditional ‘onesize-fits-all’ approach of the NHS is not working and that
service provisions need to become more responsive to the
needs of disadvantaged communities, through specific
programmes such as the Health Inequalities Public Service
Agreement started in 2004 (334).
Source: EGGSI network national reports, 2009.
(333) Due to the gender pay gap in the UK, more women than men
are on low incomes.
(334) Department of Health (2003), Tackling Health Inequalities: A
Programme for Action, London.
The largest group of European countries includes
those which finance healthcare mainly through
compulsory social insurance contributions, usually the
contributions of employees and the self-employed.
Continental countries (Austria, Belgium, France,
Germany, Luxembourg, and the Netherlands) are
included in this group, as are most eastern European
countries (the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary,
Lithuania, Poland, Slovakia and Slovenia). In these
countries, the welfare system is largely based on the
(male) breadwinner model, with insurance coverage
based on the occupational condition of the family
breadwinner and derived rights for family dependants
(spouse and children). The system of derived rights
covers non-employed married women, but penalises
single mothers, divorced and single women, as they
are not co-insured within the family.
supplemented by basic universal tax-based coverage.
The Netherlands, since the 2006 health insurance
reform, has implemented a dual system composed
of: (i) compulsory, individualised basic health
insurance system for every adult citizen (children
up to 18 years old are free of charge, being insured
via one of the parents), regardless of occupational
status; (ii) coverage against long-term care costs
(non-insurable costs) financed by contributions of
the working population.
In some of the continental countries, as in France
(since the reform of 2000) and the Netherlands
(after the 2006 reform) there is a mixed system,
with the mandatory social contribution mechanism
Some of these countries have increased the number
of cost-sharing schemes with negative effects
on gender and income inequalities in accessing
healthcare services.
94
In many of these countries, a large share of the
population is covered by supplementary private
insurance schemes, which in the Netherlands also cover
primary care and thus complement public insurance.
In Germany, supplementary private insurance schemes
cover specialised care.
2. Gender differences in access to healthcare
Box 2‑18 — Recent trends in some continental countries
In Austria, recent health reforms have primarily dealt with
cost containment, leading to the increasing individualisation
of health costs. According to a study carried out by the
Austrian Federal Institute for Health Planning (335), these
reforms have reduced access to healthcare for low-income
groups. Cost containments have a regressive effect, since the
less one earns the more — proportional to income — one
has to pay. For women, the at-risk-of-poverty threshold is
higher than for men (13 % relative to 11 %) (336). In particular,
women above the age of 65 have the highest percentage
(19 %) due to the generally low old-age pension payments
for women; also single mothers and homeless women are
negatively affected. Therefore, elderly persons, in particular
women, and chronically ill people, as well as people with a
lower income, are financially burdened by cost containment
for health services.
In Germany, with the 2007 health reform, all citizens are
obliged to be insured. Almost 88 % of the population has
mandatory health insurance, while another 9.7 % is insured
by a voluntary private health insurance scheme. Men are
more often insured by private health insurance schemes
than women (337). This can be explained by differences in
income — more often men earn an income above the
income threshold for public health insurance. In addition,
contributions to private schemes do not follow the principle
of solidarity, but gender- and age-specific risks which may
penalise women who have gender-specific pregnancy and
childbirth ‘risks’ and live longer than men. Because of the
gender pay gap and lower average income, women are more
often concerned by the fact that more and more health risks
are not fully covered by the public health insurance scheme.
(335) Federal Ministry for Women and Health (2006), Men’s
Health Report Austria 2005, Vienna. http://www.oebig.
o rg / u p l o a d / f i l e s / C M S Ed i to r / 1 . _ O e s te r re i c h i s c h e r _
Maennergesundheitsbericht.pdf
(336) Austrian Federal Institute for Health Planning (Österreichisches
Bundesinstitut fuer Gesundheitswesen, ÖBIG). http://www.
goeg.at/de/OEBIG.html and Federal Ministry for Women and
Health (2006), Men’s Health Report Austria 2005, Vienna. www.
oebig.org/upload/files/CMSEditor/1._Oesterreichischer_
Maennergesundheitsbericht.pdf
(337) Bundesministerium für Familien, Senioren, Frauen und Jugend,
BMFSFJ (2005), Gender-Datenreport, 1. Datenreport zur
Gleichstellung von Frauen und Männern in der Bundesrepublik
Deutschland, Berlin. http://www.bmfsfj.de/bmfsfj/generator/
Publikationen/genderreport/01-Redaktion/PDF-Anlagen/ges
amtdokument,property=pdf,bereich=genderreport,sprache=
de,rwb=true.pdf
In Belgium, France, the Netherlands, costcontainment measures have been integrated with
special measures extending entitlement to publically
financed healthcare, such as exemptions and caps to
In France the 2000 reform introduced universal coverage
through CMU and free complementary private health
insurance for people with low incomes, while the 2004 reform
increased the patient’s financial participation in medical
consultations or interventions. Women consult doctors
more often and declare that they renounce consultation for
financial reasons more often than men (338).
In Liechtenstein with the health reform of 1 April 2000,
several cost-control and cost-reduction measures in the
health insurance sector were introduced and the insured
must choose between the general practitioner (‘family
doctor’) system (GP) and a free choice of doctors. Insured
persons on low incomes, minors and the elderly are granted
a reduced premium rate. These reductions, however, are
only granted when the insured person joins the family
doctor scheme. Pensioners on low incomes also have the
possibility to avail themselves of supplementary benefits
funded through general taxes in addition to their pension.
Expenditure on health insurance premiums and health costs
(doctor and dentist costs, etc.) is also taken into account
within the context of such supplementary benefits.
In the Dutch healthcare system, considering the individual
costs for all diseases, women paid more than men on an
individual level in 2005: EUR 2 333 against EUR 1 915 (339).
There are also large differences in insurance coverage,
which can be ascribed to age and country of origin. In 2006,
the Dutch policy on curative healthcare and long-term
healthcare changed drastically with a new Health Insurance
Act that came into effect on 1 January 2006. Initially, it
had a (limited) negative financial impact on the lowest
income groups, especially on vulnerable groups such as the
chronically ill. Income compensations were thus introduced
for the lowest income groups and for the chronically ill. In
order to curb the rising costs of healthcare, Dutch citizens
were asked to decrease their demand for healthcare as much
as possible. Further curbing of the costs was achieved by an
implementation and increase of out-of-pocket payments.
The minimum amount of out-of-pocket payments for each
Dutch citizen, male or female, is EUR 150 a year.
Source: EGGSI network national reports 2009.
(338) Insee (2008), Femmes et hommes, regards sur la parité, La
documentation française, Paris.
(339) Duch National Institute for Public Health and the Environment
(RIVM). http://www.kostenvanziekten.nl
out-of-pocket payments (as in Belgium) or extending
insurance coverage (as in France and the Netherlands)
to support healthcare access for low-income and
disadvantaged groups.
95
ACCESS TO HEALTHCARE AND LONG-TERM CARE: Equal for women and men?
Box 2‑19 — Measures to reduce financial barriers in Belgium and France
In Belgium, recent measures have been geared towards
a reduction of cost sharing for groups at risk. The BIM
(Bénéfice de l’intervention majorée) (340) sets a higher rate for
the reimbursement of medical services for certain social
categories as beneficiaries of the ‘revenu d’intégration social’
or for households whose annual income does not exceed a
certain threshold (maximum annual income of EUR 2 707 —
1/9/2008). The MAF (Maximum à facturer) sets a maximum
amount of annual expenditure per family on healthcare
that varies according to household income. However,
their impact on improved access to health, in particular for
women of lower social groups, has not been evaluated. In
addition, the threshold of EUR 450 per year to be charged
to patients is still quite high and can represent a substantial
part of the household budget. The dossier medical global
initiative (DMG — Global medical file), introduced in 1999
and available to the whole adult population, reduces
medical costs for people opting for it and gives them access
to free cancer screening every three years. This measure is
an important complement to reduce financial barriers to
healthcare. However, this initiative is not well known: there
are no data by sex, but people from the lower income groups
have 8 % less chance to have a DMG (341).
In France, derived rights for the dependant spouse
cover some inactive or unemployed married women
without individual entitlement. These rights, however,
are becoming more and more uncertain, due to the
combination of increasing employment flexibility and the
rise of break-ups in unions and marriages. This explains
why several ‘universal’ rights linked to citizenship have
been developed in the French system for those, essentially
women or immigrants, who do not benefit from individual
employment entitlements or from derived rights to social
security. Individuals who lose their entitlements may
usually keep their rights to social protection for one year.
After that period, they may benefit from ‘universal rights’
under means-tested conditions. In 2000 the government
introduced Universal illness coverage (Couverture maladie
universelle — CMU) to support individuals who have no
other entitlement to the social security system. CMU gives
access to basic social security coverage (basic CMU), and
eventually to complementary coverage (mutual health
(340) The basic principle of compulsory healthcare insurance is that
patients pay care providers directly, at tariffs agreed. Health
mutuals reimburse patients partially or wholly according to
an agreed rate of intervention, excluding some categories of
medical costs or providers. The reimbursement is depending
on the income level, and is higher for those with a low income
— the bénéfice de l’intervention majorée (BIM) (increased
intervention benefit).
(341) Mutualité chrétienne, Inégalités sociales de santé: observations
à l’aide de données mutualistes, MC Informations 233,
septembre 2008.
h t t p : / / w w w. m c . b e / f r / 1 0 9 / i n f o _ e t _ a c t u a l i t e / m c _
informations/index.jsp 96
insurance funds), to individuals who have no entitlements
or who have lost their rights to the social security, under
means-tested conditions. Since 1 January 2005, additional
help for accessing complementary coverage (CMUC) has
been proposed to individuals belonging to a modest
household but not eligible for CMUC (because they exceed
the income threshold). Statistical surveys show that women
and young people represent the majority of the 4.3 million
(2007) CMUC beneficiaries. Manual workers and clerks
are also over-represented as well as precarious workers at
high unemployment risk. Single parent families (essentially
single mothers) represent a large and increasing part of the
CMUC beneficiaries. Statistical surveys also show that CMUC
beneficiaries more often declare that they have renounced
dental or optical care during the past 12 months for financial
reasons (women more than men) than people benefiting
from private complementary insurance, but less than people
who have no complementary health insurance coverage
at all, showing that the CMUC is effective in reducing the
giving-up of healthcare. The highest renouncement rate to
dental or optical care is for women without complementary
insurance coverage: 40 % renounce healthcare (versus
29 % for men) (342). Another obstacle that prevents them
from accessing healthcare is the refusal of care from health
professionals: 15 % of CMU beneficiaries declare they
have experienced such a refusal, mainly from dentists or
specialised doctors (343).
Since 1 January 2000, another measure to ensure health
protection was implemented for foreigners who are not
stable or regular residents in France. The Medical state aid
(Aide médicale d’Etat — AME) complements the CMU to give
illegal foreign immigrants access to free medical care and
hospitalisation under residence (the person must have been
in France for at least three months) and resource conditions.
According to a recent survey (344), in the Parisian Region,
AME beneficiaries who are ‘in contact’ with the healthcare
system (who consult a doctor or are hospitalised) are mostly
educated young adults (70 % aged 20–39) who have been
residing in France for less than five years.
Source: EGGSI network national reports 2009.
(342) Boisguérin, B. (2009), Quelles caractéristiques sociales et quel
recours aux soins pour les bénéficiaires de la CMUC en 2006,
Etudes et résultats, Drees, No 675, January.
(343) The explanation may be that doctors have to comply with
the Social security tariff for CMU beneficiaries and sometimes
experience long delay in reimbursement on the part of social
security. Boisguérin, B. (2004), Etat de santé et recours aux
soins des bénéficiaires de la CMU, Etudes et résultats, Drees,
No 612, December.
(344) Boisguérin, B., Haury, B. (2008), Les bénéficiaires de l’AME en
contact avec le système de soins, Etudes et résultats, Drees,
No 645, July.
2. Gender differences in access to healthcare
A mandatory social insurance contribution system is
also present in most eastern European countries (the
Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Lithuania, Poland,
Slovakia and Slovenia), with Lithuania and Poland
having switched from tax-based to social insurance
in the mid-nineties (345). During the nineties, all these
countries also introduced legislation allowing for private
insurance schemes and out-of-pocket payments. In
some of these countries, private expenditure accounts
for a large share of total spending, so that access to
quality healthcare is expensive and largely affected by
income levels and occupational positions.
Box 2‑20 — Financial barriers in some eastern European countries
Among the Baltic countries, the Estonian healthcare system
is mainly funded by solidarity-based mandatory health
insurance contributions in the form of earmarked social
payroll tax. Overall, at the end of 2006, 95 % of the population
was covered by mandatory health insurance, and Estonia
appears to be the most inclusive among the Baltic countries,
even if it does not adequately cover non-registered,
unemployed adult men and women. According to the EGGSI
national report, 8.2 % of women in the 45–54 age bracket are
not insured, nor are 67.3 % of unemployed men and 54 %
of unemployed women (346). Since the beginning of 2003,
voluntary coverage has been extended to those who might
otherwise remain uninsured. Private expenditure accounts
for approximately a quarter of all health expenditures,
mostly in the form of co-payments for pharmaceuticals and
dental care. The share of private funding (out-of-pocket
payments and voluntary insurance) has increased from
19.6 % of the total expenditure on healthcare in 1999 to
25.6 % in 2006 (347). By 2005, the incidence of healthcare
services in total expenditures had become equal in the case
of the poorest and the richest income deciles. While poorer
(and usually older) residents spend their money primarily
on buying medicine, the healthcare expenses of wealthier
(and usually younger) residents are mainly related to dental
care and spa services (348). However, since 2007, all registered
unemployed people who participate in active labour market
policy measures are covered by health insurance. In 2002,
7.4 % of inhabitants had high healthcare expenses (above
20 % of the household budget), 1.4 % of inhabitants were at
risk of poverty due to healthcare expenses (349). Older persons
are especially at risk of high healthcare expenses (350).
(346) Koppel, A. et al. (2008), Estonia: Health system review, Health
Systems in Transition, 2008, 10(1): 1-230.
(347) Haigekassa (2007), Annual Report 2007, Estonian Health
Insurance Fund, Tallin. http://www.haigekassa.ee/files/eng_ehif_annual/EHIF_
Annual_Report_2007.pdf
(348) Aaviksoo, A. (2009), Health and quality of life, In: Eesti Ekspressi
Kirjastuse AS (2009), Estonian Human Development Report 2008.
http://www.kogu.ee/public/EIA2008_eng.pdf
(349) Võrk, A., Jesse, M., Roostalu, I., Jüristo, T., (2005), Eesti
Tervishoiu Rahastamissüsteemi Jätkusuutlikkuse analüüs.
Poliitikauuringute Keskus Praxis, Tallinn.
(350) Habicht, J., Xu, K., Counffinal, A., Kutzin, J. (2005), Out-ofpocket payments in Estonia: an object of concern?, HSF
Working Document, Health Systems Financing Programme,
WHO Regional Office for Europe.
In Poland the role of NGOs is relevant to financially support
access to healthcare services, especially for pregnant
women and children. Public healthcare is financed through
mandatory health insurance contributions which cover a
large part of the total population. However, actual coverage
is not complete, and it is slightly biased in favour of men. The
main groups not covered include: homeless people (mostly
men), except for those under special social programmes,
unregistered people, unemployed people with no family
relations to the insured person (mostly women), adults
who never worked (mostly women) or studied (gender
neutral) or live in families without insurance coverage.
Voluntary private health insurance is available but not
widespread. In most cases it is offered and (co-)financed
by employers and its use is two times higher among men
than women (351). Specialised services (including many
dental and ophthalmological services) are not provided for
at all under public health insurance. While, basic healthcare
during pregnancy and birth is available to all women,
some procedures, such as anaesthesia during delivery, are
not included in the universal health insurance, and must
be financed by individuals. In order to overcome financial
barriers in accessing healthcare, NGO projects support the
financing of selected procedures or diseases not covered by
the universal health insurance, especially for children and
women of reproductive age, female victims of domestic
violence and the elderly. This attention to women’s needs
reflects a well-organised, self-supporting movement of
women in Poland (352). On the other hand, there are very few
government (central, local) or non-government projects
concentrating on the financial aspects of men’s health.
Among eastern European countries, Slovenia presents
the lowest inequalities in health insurance coverage. The
public scheme covers employees, the self-employed,
farmers, recipients of cash benefits (including pensioners)
but excludes persons who do not have permanent
residence in Slovenia (e.g. asylum seekers, foreigners with
temporary residence). The latter are, however, provided
with emergency healthcare. There are also specific health
services for people without documents and the homeless
(351) According to the Central Statistical Office — GUS (2007),
Kobiety w Polsce [Women in Poland], r.2. Zdrowie [ch.2.
Health], Warsaw. http://www.stat.gov.pl/cps/rde/xbcr/gus/PUBL_Kobiety_w_
Polsce.pdf
(352) See for instance http://www.oska.org.pl
(345) Thomson, S. Et al. (2009), Financing health care in the European
Union. Challenges and Policy responses, European Observatory
on Health Systems and Policies, Observatory Studies series, No.
17. http://www.euro.who.int/document/e92469.pdf
97
ACCESS TO HEALTHCARE AND LONG-TERM CARE: Equal for women and men?
(in some local areas). However, compulsory health insurance
covers 100 % of cost of treatment only for certain groups
(children, pupils, students). Therefore, it is almost obligatory
for people to purchase additional health insurance. Elderly
women are a particularly vulnerable group due to their high
at-risk-of-poverty rate. Since January 2009, Slovenia has
funded additional health insurance for low-income groups
(i.e. those receiving cash social assistance or are eligible
for receiving cash social assistance) (353), offering better
access to healthcare to some of the more vulnerable groups
of women (elderly women, single mothers). Additional
amendments to the Health Care and Health Insurance Act in
2008 may improve access to healthcare for women. Namely,
additional cases previously left out have been included in
compulsory health insurance. These are linked to childcare
— e.g. parents that are on maternity, paternity leave whose
employment contract has expired, parents who pay social
security contributions and care for a child under 3 years of
age, parents who leave employment to care for four or more
children, are now included in compulsory health insurance.
These are in most cases women, even though the measures
are intended for both men and women (354).
In Slovakia, since September 2006, user fees for services in
the healthcare sector have been lowered. In addition, the
private insurance system has been regulated to prevent
abuse. Since 2005, providers have been obliged to respect
hard budgetary constraints and health insurance companies
are obliged to maintain adequate payment discipline,
(353) http://www.dnevnik.si/novice/zdravje/1042233497
(354) Health Insurance Institute of Slovenia (HIIS)(2007), Compulsory
health Insurance in Slovenia today for Tomorrow, Ljubijana.
http://www.zzzs.si/zzzs/internet/zzzseng.nsf
The third group of countries is represented by some
southern and eastern European countries with different
institutional models, but a high incidence of out-ofpocket payments and private insurance schemes:
Cyprus, Greece, Latvia, Bulgaria and Romania. In these
countries, access to healthcare is more constrained by
financial barriers than in other European countries and
many disadvantaged groups are completely excluded.
High gender and income inequalities in coverage
are present in Latvia, and in some eastern European
countries (Romania and Bulgaria), which have only
recently started developing a modern healthcare
system, switching from a tax-based to an insurance
contribution system in the mid-nineties and
presenting high out-of-pocket payments. According
to the ­2008­–10 National reports on strategies for
report adequate levels of solvency and subject themselves
to external audits (355). Insured persons now have the right
to select their health insurance company, which they may
change once per year (always from the 1st of January of the
following year) by submitting an application to their health
insurance company. Healthcare provision is generally paid
for by public health insurance.
The Czech government introduced out-of-pocket
payments for seeking medical treatment from a doctor,
for prescription pharmaceuticals, and for hospitalisation
and medical examination, medications and day — hospital
admissions in January 2008. Fees are not paid for preventive
examinations, mandatory vaccinations, reproductive care,
breast cancer screening (mammography), and prescription
of hormonal contraceptives. An annual limit of CZK 5 000
has been introduced (lowered to CZK 2 500 as of April 2009)
for the payment of fees. The fees are very low, but for very
low income families (for example single parents), the fees
might mean a barrier in the use of health services (356).
Source: EGGSI network national reports 2009.
(355) General Health Policy for 2007–10, Slovakian Health Policy
Institute, 2008. http://www.hpi.sk/hpi/sk
(356) The information is based on qualitative research carried out
under the project Processes and Sources of Gender Inequalities
in Women’s Careers in Connection with the Transformation of
Czech Society after 1989 and after the Accession of the Czech
Republic to the EU, Grant Agency of the Academy of Sciences
of the Czech Republic No IA700280804. see EGGSI Network
National report 2009, Czech Republic.
social inclusion and social protection, the Baltic
countries, Bulgaria and Romania have increased the
public resources aimed at improving access to and
quality of care. There are however concerns that the
economic crisis is halting this trend, reducing the
public resources available for healthcare (357).
Cyprus and Greece are the European countries that
most rely on out-of-pocket payments. Cyprus is also
the only country in Europe still without a universal
healthcare insurance system, while Greece, even if it
has universal coverage, has a very fragmented system
with a high incidence of out-of-pocket payments and
private health insurance schemes. While these schemes
provide access to good-quality services and reduce
waiting times, they also increase inequalities in access
to healthcare.
(357) European Commission (2009), Proposal for the Joint Report
on Social Protection and Social Inclusion 2009, COM(2009) 58
final, SEC(2009) 141. Brussels. h t t p : / / e u r - l e x . e u ro p a . e u / Le x U r i S e r v / Le x U r i S e r v.
do?uri=COM:2009:0058:FIN:EN:PDF
98
2. Gender differences in access to healthcare
Box 2‑21 — Financial barriers in Cyprus, Greece, Latvia, Bulgaria, and Romania
In Cyprus approximately only 65–70 % of the population
has access to free care and 5–10 % has access at a reduced
rate (358). However, different qualifying conditions for
health coverage (free care without income test for some
and means-testing for others) result in inequities in access
being an inherent part of the system. Exacerbating these
inequities is the limited capacity of the public health
system to provide services even for those that are eligible
for care. Total health expenditure during the 2000–06
period was one of the lowest in the EU-27 and the public
share of health spending is the EU’s lowest after Greece,
with the remaining private share being funded mainly
by out-of-pocket payments. Women are more likely to
suffer the effects of these inequities, given that they have
fewer financial resources, constitute the majority of single
parent families, and are at a higher risk of poverty in old
age. Other vulnerable groups are women with disabilities
and migrant women.
The Greek National Health System (NHS) was created in
1983 with the aim of insuring the entire Greek population,
thus contributing to the achievement of the goal of equity
in health and healthcare. Even though the expectations of
the NHS were very high at the time of its creation, gradually
its efficiency was questioned as long as the private health
sector was expanding. One of the basic characteristics
of the Greek NHS is the co-existence of numerous health
funds alongside the coverage of the entire population by a
public health system, which is often referred to as the ‘Greek
Paradox’. Greece is considered to have the most ‘privatised’
health sector in Europe, with highest incidence of private
and out-of-pocket payments as well as ‘unofficial’ or ‘underthe-table’ payments in Europe (359), whereas private health
insurance is not at significant levels (360). High private health
expenditure is believed to be directly linked to increased
levels of dissatisfaction from the NHS (361). The significant
fragmentation of the system is believed to negatively affect
the performance of the National Health System in terms
of equity. A study (362) conducted in 2003 shows that there
are income-related inequalities in the utilisation of 16 basic
health services and prevention tests (including diabetes
tests, breast examinations, breast screening and Pap tests).
With the exception of hearing and osteoporosis tests, the
utilisation of the other basic services is largely affected by
income levels. The income elasticity of all 16 services is 50 %
higher for women compared to the rest of the population,
so that gender-related income inequalities are more severe
(358) WHO (2004), 10 Questions about the 10, Report written by
Albena Arnaudova, Copenhagen.
http://www.euro.who.int/Document/E82865.pdf
(359) Liaropoulos, L., Tragakis, E. (1998), Public/Private Financing in
the Greek Health Care System: Implications for Equity, Health
Policy, Vol. 43, pp. 153–169.
(360) Liaropoulos, L., Tragakis, E. (1998), Public/Private Financing in
the Greek Health Care System: Implications for Equity, Health
Policy, Vol. 43, pp. 153–169.
(361) Venieris, D., Papatheodorou, Ch. (2003), Social Policy in Greece,
Athens.
(362) Mergoupis, Thanos (2003), Income and Utilization of
Health Services in Greece, In: Venieris D., Papatheodorou C.,
(eds.),Social Policy in Greece, Challenges and prospects.
than other income inequalities in health access. The only
available chance for women and men (who are not covered
by any social security scheme) to tackle financial barriers to
the healthcare system is to get a ‘certificate of lack of means’,
which provides access to public healthcare services.
In Latvia healthcare expenditure is still very low as compared
to the EU average (6.4 % of GDP in 2005 relative to the EU
average 9 %) and the public system covers only 57 % of
total expenditures (363). Public insurance only covers basic
health services, but not drug prescriptions, dental services,
rehabilitation services, etc. Out-of-pocket payments and
private insurance are becoming a relevant component of
funding and Latvia is one of the European countries with a
higher share of private financing. There are no disaggregated
data indicating the proportion of insured men and women;
however women are less likely to be covered by additional
private insurance schemes, as they are not usually employed
in large private companies. To protect low-income groups,
some exemptions from co-payments have been introduced
in recent years, but they have been difficult to maintain in
the recent crisis situation.
In Bulgaria there is a combination of low health insurance
rates and a large number of non-insured persons. The
healthcare system is financed by mandatory contributions
to the National Health Insurance Fund (NHIF), central
government funding, voluntary health insurance with
private health insurance funds, and co-payments from
patients. Health insurance mainly covers primary and
hospital healthcare services. A serious drawback of the
system is the limited access of patients to specialist medical
services based on prior authorisation from their GP on
the basis of a limited number of ‘tickets’ allocated by the
NHIF. On numerous occasions, patients are obliged to pay
out-of-pocket for these services or they simply do not get
them. Specific social groups (both men and women) face
additional disadvantages based on their economic status,
ethnic origin or disability. According to the Law on Health
Insurance, registered unemployed and people receiving
social benefits are insured by the state through the budget.
The number of people with no health insurance is estimated
at 1 million (the total population is 7.6 million): they mainly
get emergency care treatment. The Roma people, who for
different reasons are not among the unemployed or do not
receive social benefits, lack health insurance rights and are
obliged to pay for medical check-ups, hospital treatment
and medicines. According to the Ministry of Health care
estimates, almost half of all Roma are not covered by health
insurance. The legislation is not applied so rigorously and
usually Roma are not denied access to health services in
these cases. In comparison with the 10 Member States
that joined the EU in 2004, Bulgaria has the lowest share
of public healthcare expenditures on GDP — 4.8–5 % on
average. In 2002 the share of the people unable to pay for
necessary medical care and drugs, reached 47 % among
(363) OECD data (OMC indicator HC-C3), presented in European
Commission — New common indicators from 2006 for the
Open Method of Coordination (OMC), Health and Long-term
care, July 2008.
99
ACCESS TO HEALTHCARE AND LONG-TERM CARE: Equal for women and men?
Bulgarian citizens of Turkish origin and 62 % of Roma
origin. An additional financial barrier is the relatively high
cost of medication. As compared to the rest of the EU
countries, Bulgarian citizens pay the highest proportion for
medications (56 %) out of their pockets, while the relative
share of the public spending is only 44 % (364).
In Romania, since the Health Reform Law in 2006,
private insurance companies have been allowed to offer
supplementary or complementary insurance (365). Those
who opt for voluntary health insurance are not excluded
from participating in the statutory health insurance
scheme. Pregnant women and postpartum mothers have
special rights within the social health insurance system.
They are insured without paying the insurance premium,
and if they do not have an income, or if their income is
below the minimum national average, they are entitled to
free of charge outpatient treatments and transport to the
hospital for delivery or emergencies. Health insurance does
not cover all healthcare services. Specialised care must be
paid for directly by the patients or through other sources
of payment. Informal payments are estimated to account
(364) Data for 2007 from the Association of the Research-Based
Pharmaceutical Manufacturers in Bulgaria.
(365) European Observatory on Health Systems and Policies (2008),
Healthcare systems in transition, Vol. 10, No 3, Romania
Health System Review. http://www.euro.who.int/Document/E91689.pdf
for over 40 % of the total out-of-pocket expenditures (366).
Insurance coverage rates are still low: in 2005, an estimated
7 % of the population was not registered with a family doctor
and consequently could not benefit from any public health
services. A survey carried out in 2000 (367) showed that only
34 % of the Roma were covered by the health insurance
fund, compared to the national average of 75 %. Also, many
people with poor economic status cannot afford to pay the
monthly premium, due to insufficient income or resources.
The 2008–10 NSR (368) provides for additional resources to
improve access and quality of care; however it is not clear if
these provisions will be maintained given the gravity of the
current economic crisis. A free basic health service package
for deprived population groups has been defined, together
with projects for health services for disadvantaged groups,
support to private and public providers of medical and
social services addressing disadvantaged groups (the Roma,
street children, families on low incomes, elderly people) and
access to essential medicines.
Source: EGGSI network national reports 2009.
(366) National Statistics Institute (2007), Romanian Statistical
Yearbook 2007, Bucharest. http://www.insse.ro/cms/rw/pages/index.ro.do
(367) Zamfir, C., Preda, M. (2002), Romii in Romania [Roma in
Romania], Bucharest.
(368) National Strategic Report for Social Inclusion and
Social Protection, 2008, Romania. http://ec.europa.eu/employment_social/spsi/docs/social_
inclusion/2008/nap/romania_en.pdf
2.2.2. Cultural barriers
extent as men. But the most interesting result
of the study was that it was observed that when
women gave an SOS-alarm, they were generally
given a lower priority than men, meaning that
it took longer for the ambulance to arrive. One
reason for this might be that women’s symptoms
are not taken as seriously as men’s, but maybe
also men might only call when they are seriously
ill while women call more often. The results were
used to raise consciousness about gender issues
in the staff and formed the basis for discussions
in the organisations involved in ambulance
medical care.
The distinct roles and behaviours of men and women
in a given culture, resulting from gender norms and
values, give rise to gender differences and inequalities
in access to healthcare, as well as in risky behaviour and
health status (369).
The first relevant element to be considered while
analysing cultural barriers is connected with gender
stereotypes. On the one hand, women deal with
difficulties in accessing healthcare due to prejudices
concerning women’s health-related behaviour, or, in
certain ethnic groups, customs and habits regarding
their role in family and social life. Some examples of
prejudices and customs are contained in various EGGSI
national reports.
■■
In Sweden a project called ‘Ambulance Care’ ( 370)
showed that women use ambulances more
than men. This could be a result of the fact that
more women live alone than men, that women
live longer and that they might not have access
to a car or have a driver’s licence to the same
(369) WHO, Gender, Women and Health. http://www.who.int/gender/en/
(370) Ambulansforum, Sweden. http://www.ambulansforum.se/
100
■■
Another example comes from Poland where
stereotypes make access to some healthcare
procedures difficult for women. This regards,
for instance, treatment of alcohol addiction or
alcohol-related diseases. Since these problems
are perceived as male-related (in fact, they affect
mostly men in Poland), women may be deprived of
proper treatment. Some psychiatric hospitals have
proved completely unprepared for the admission
and treatment of women (371).
(371) Gazeta Wyborcza (2008), Feministki: w szpitalu dyskryminują
kobiety, November 11. http://miasta.gazeta.pl/radom/1,48201,5888267,Feministki__
w_szpitalu_dyskryminuja_kobiety.html
2. Gender differences in access to healthcare
■■
■■
In Romania family opinion is particularly important
in the demand for contraceptives and family
planning advice. Resistance by a husband and
cultural opposition to the use of contraception are
important detriments to the seeking of medical
advice. Roma adolescents, whose families adhere
to traditions that equate a girl’s virginity with
family honour and place the responsibility for sex
education on a mother or sister-in-law, may have
particular difficulties in accessing information on
sexual health. Cultural conventions about the proper
treatment of health issues may also inhibit access.
Women often accept symptoms of genito-urinary
illness as part of life and may be embarrassed to
seek medical care. In many settings, ‘modern’ and
‘traditional’ health services still compete with each
other. Poor population groups are especially likely
to turn to traditional medicine.
In Cypriot society, with traditional beliefs that
reinforce patriarchal attitudes toward women,
gender stereotypes as well as societal expectations
with regard to gender roles contribute to creating
an atmosphere where domestic violence is largely
tolerated. As a result of this, a general culture of
victim blaming exists in all social classes, and this also
seems to be the case among health professionals.
In fact, according to a study on the attitudes of
health professionals and domestic violence, health
professionals revealed a general lack of awareness of
the causes and consequences of domestic violence
and tended to justify the actions of perpetrators
and transfer responsibility to the victims (372).
On the other hand, men also have to face stereotypes in
accessing healthcare and prevention programmes. As
already mentioned earlier, osteoporosis, for instance,
is perceived as a female disease, and it might be less
obvious that men should be treated for osteoporosis
as well, as shown in some EGGSI national reports.
Certain education and health prevention programmes,
especially anorexia and eating disorders, are targeted
mostly at women, only occasionally mentioning
men. Gender-related cultural barriers may also reflect
stereotypes regarding lifestyle, where for example, men
are expected to be in good shape, dedicated to sport
and fitness, etc. The following present two examples
from EGGSI national reports in greater detail.
■■
Although research is scarce, in the UK, evidence
suggests that men and women make very
different use of primary care (373). Men have a lower
(372) Apostolidou, M., et al. (2008), Attitudes of Health Professionals
on Violence in the Family, United Nations Development
Programme, Cyprus.
(373) Campbell, J.L., Ramsey, J. and Green, J. (2001), Age, gender,
socioeconomic, and ethnic differences in patients, assessment
of primary health care, Quality in Health Care, No 10.
propensity to seek help on health issues from
primary care services. They tend to go to general
practitioners later and are more likely to use
the Accidents and Emergency Department. The
cultural explanations given for this are that men
have different risk perceptions and are more likely
to attribute symptoms to less threatening causes
and that they are reluctant to consult with GPs on
trivial matters as this may appear ‘wimpish’ (374) or
emasculating (375). Other studies recommended
that in order to increase men’s use of health
information and services, they could be made
more male-friendly, anonymous and convenient.
This could be achieved through increased use of
NHS Direct (376), pharmacists, occupational health
and online advice (377).
■■
In Poland, for example, survey data show that men
avoid visiting doctors more often than women (378).
Expectation that a male should be fit and healthy
may be one of the reasons for the lower rate of
medical care use by men as compared to women.
The report also highlights an additional male
stereotype: some health-threatening behaviours
by men are accepted or at least tolerated, such as
drinking alcohol or even occasional risky drinking
during special events and holidays. This is often
indicated as one of the main causes of transport
accident rates and the high male mortality rate due
to (transport) accidents.
Women use healthcare services frequently in relation
to maternity care and the delivery of children.
Throughout their lives and due to their reproductive
role, women go through a process of socialisation in
which the healthcare system becomes much more a
part of their life experience than for men. Also, women
live longer and they more frequently use inpatient
hospitalisation than men (see Figure 2-7). According
to the Iceland EGGSI report, the fact that men are less
familiar with the healthcare system, since they miss
the socialisation process women experience, may
play a role in explaining the differences in accessing
healthcare.
(374) Banks, I. (2001), No man’s land: men, illness, and the NHS, British
Medical Journal, No 323, 3 November.
(375) Wilkins, D., Payne, S., Granville, G., Branney, P. (2008), The Gender
and Access to Health Services Study, Department of Health,
London.
(376) NHS Direct offers 24-hour advice and support by telephone and
other multimedia channels. See http://www.nhsdirect.nhs.uk
EGGSI Network National Report 2009, UK.
(377) Banks, I. (2001), No man’s land: men, illness, and the NHS, British
Medical Journal, No 323, 3 November, pp. 1058–60.
(378) GUS (2008), Podstawowe dane z zakresu ochrony zdrowia
w 2007 r., Warsaw, GUS (2007), Kobiety w Polsce [Women in
Poland], r.2. Zdrowie [ch.2. Health], Warsaw; GUS (2007), Ochrona
zdrowia w gospodarstwach domowych w 2006 r. [Healthcare in
households in 2006], Warsaw.
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ACCESS TO HEALTHCARE AND LONG-TERM CARE: Equal for women and men?
Apart from gender stereotypes, the following issues
should also be taken into consideration when analysing
cultural barriers in accessing healthcare:
1. social status and level of education;
2. cultural differences inherent in ethnicity and
migration issues (that involve not only language
skills but also traditions and norms of hygiene);
3. religious practices;
4. prejudice concerning sexual orientation;
5. working culture.
These issues are discussed in more detail below, relying
on information from the EGGSI national reports.
Social status and low level of educational
Social status represents a major source of inequality
in access to healthcare. Eurostat Statistics in focus
24/2009 (379) investigated the relationship between selfperceived health and unmet medical needs, correlated
with demographic and socioeconomic variables. The
explanatory factors considered were gender, age group,
income, country of residence, level of education and
activity status. The results show that there is a direct
correlation between the probability of reporting bad/
very bad health or unmet medical needs and some of
these factors:
■■
the probability rises considerably when the level of
income decreases ;
■■
the probability rises considerably among inactive
and unemployed people;
■■
the probability decreases when the level of
education raises.
Several EGGSI national reports have also described
the incidence of social status in the use of healthcare
and in the perception of health. For example, in
Romania educational attainment and income have
been reported as relevant predictors of the use of
healthcare, due to missing information or difficulties of
access to care. In Hungary this has been reported as
particularly evident in take-up rates on breast cancer
and cervical screenings (which is lower in women
with a low level of education, the unskilled, the Roma,
the inactive population, or the poor, particularly in
remote, underdeveloped and rural areas). In Portugal,
socioeconomic conditions have been reported as
particularly determinant in relation to age: a large
percentage of older women (over 65 years old) have low
educational level, which means a more difficult access
to and acquisition of information on topics relevant to
their well-being. This may explain why many in this age
group still use domestic healing practices and home
remedies to deal with their illnesses.
Cultural differences
A rather important area where cultural barriers play
a relevant role in accessing healthcare is connected
with immigration, in terms of cultural and linguistic
differences with the host country, religious beliefs and
practices, and difficulties linked to the legal and social
situation of immigrant populations. This issue presents
two different points of view: the side of the patients
and the side of healthcare providers. Some relevant
elements to be considered from the side of the patients
and their behaviours have been described in EGGSI
national reports and summarised as follows.
■■
So the probability of reporting bad health and
unmet medical needs increases with the decrease
of socioeconomic conditions such as the level of
income, the level of education, and activity status,
while from a gender perspective it should be noted
that the probability of reporting bad/very bad health
is less frequent among women, while the probability
of unmet medical needs is a bit more frequent among
women than men.
(379) Eurostat (2009), Perception of health and access to healthcare
in the EU-25 in 2007, by Baert, K. and de Norre, B., Statistics in
Focus, No 24/2009, Luxembourg. http://epp.eurostat.ec.europa.eu/cache/ITY_OFFPUB/KSSF-09-024/EN/KS-SF-09-024-EN.PDF
102
Differences in attitudes towards health and
healthcare: a consideration emerging from
the Liechtenstein report, for example, is that
‘socially disadvantaged people, of whom many
are foreign-language migrants, are exposed to
higher health and disability risks. They generally
make less use of preventive check-ups and have
poorer knowledge of health and risk factors
and have different cultural understandings of
health, sickness, and hygiene compared with the
Liechtenstein population. Culturally different
views than those prevalent in Liechtenstein exist,
for instance, with respect to the care of infants
and children, but also with respect to nutrition:
foreign-language migrants are likely to exhibit less
healthy behaviour than the native population’ (380).
Dutch general practitioners report unclear healthseeking behaviour and so-called non-compliance
behaviour (disregarding doctors’ advice) of men
and women from ethnic minorities. A remarkable
(380) Marxer, Wilfried (2007), Migration und Integration — Geschichte
— Probleme — Perspektiven: Studie der NGO-Arbeitsgruppe
Integration (co-author Manuel Frick), Bendern.
2. Gender differences in access to healthcare
research finding is that second- and thirdgeneration migrants experience more difficulties
regarding access to qualified healthcare than
first-generation migrants. This implies that
language is not such a problem, as second- and
third-generation migrants usually speak Dutch,
meaning the problem is the difference in cultural
background (381).
■■
■■
Differences in the role and relevance attributed to
genders, in some cases with the legitimisation of
the use of violence against women. In recent years,
issues of violence against immigrant women have
become the centre of public attention concerning
female genital mutilation (FGM), forced marriage
and trafficking in women and girls: examples have
been reported in the Norwegian and Austrian
EGGSI national reports (382). In Norway the National
action plan to reduce domestic violence 2008–11
includes the protection of victims, treatment
programmes for those who batter, increased
knowledge of domestic violence within healthcare,
prevention strategies and an increased focus upon
research and development (383). The Action plan to
combat female genital mutilation 2008–11 clearly
places the responsibility for efforts to struggle
against the practice of female genital mutilation
with national, regional and local authorities. In
Austria, special attention is given to traditionally
influenced violence against immigrant women, e.g.
female genital mutilation (FGM), forced marriage
and trafficking in women and girls. In 2005 the
Vienna Women’s Health programme supported the
establishment of a counselling centre for women’s
health and genital mutilation (384).
Differences in educational attainments of women:
ethnic minority women are often characterised
by low educational levels, and in particular within
Roma communities, high rates of illiteracy and poor
school attendance by the children, which hampers
their access to services.
From the side of healthcare providers the impact of
cultural differences in the access of healthcare can be
summarised by some examples presented in the EGGSI
national reports.
(381) Keuzenkamp, S., Merens, A. (2006), Sociale Atlas van Vrouwen
uit Ethnische Minderheden, Social and Cultural Planning Office
(Social Map on Women from Ethnic Minorities), Den Haag.
(382) In 2005 the Vienna Women’s Health programme supported the
establishment of a counselling centre for women’s health and
genital mutilation citied in Vienna Women’s Health Report 2006.
(383) Justis og politidepartementet, Vendepunkt Handlingsplan mot
våld i nære relasjoner 2008–11.
h t t p : / / w w w. re g j e r i n g e n . n o / u p l o a d / J D / Ve d l e g g /
Handlingsplaner/Vendepunkt.pdf
(384) City of Vienna 2006, pp. 384–398.
■■
In Portugal, access to health services by immigrants
and ethnic minorities, though recognised as a right
for all those who are legally registered in Portugal,
can often be hampered because of the lack of
preparation and adjustment to cultural diversity on
the part of health professionals and this creates a
gap between immigrants and healthcare services:
the immigrant population is not familiar enough
with actual Portuguese health services, making
them suspicious and afraid and the difficulty in
understanding and speaking Portuguese makes
communication harder between immigrants and
technicians.
■■
Both Dutch healthcare professionals and healthcare
users from a different ethnic background report
mutual lack of knowledge, ignorance and
misunderstanding as bottlenecks in access to
healthcare. In Bulgaria, lack of knowledge, ignorance
and non-consideration by general practitioners and
other health specialists of the cultural differences
and traditions of people of Roma and Turkish origin
worsen their contact with these patients. This often
leads the poorly and less-educated of these groups
to resort to methods of self-treatment.
■■
In many cases migrants and Roma people are
described as subject to negative attitudes/racism/
discrimination of some healthcare workers and
hospitals. This can be seen most overtly in the case
of Roma women. Roma women face at least two
main obstacles concerning the health services, i.e.
the poor access to the services due to the difficulty in
obtaining information, and discrimination by those
who work in the healthcare system. It is particularly
women living in the remote parts of the countries
and small villages who do not have sufficient access
to the healthcare services. As in the case of other
European countries Roma women in Hungary have
access to these services in the case of childbirth
and of urgent situations. Roma women however
suffer from forced segregation even in hospitals,
in rooms where there are only Roma women.
In Romania the EGGSI national report describes
stigma and discrimination as relevant limits in
the access to healthcare for the Roma people. The
refusal may be direct discrimination and takes
many forms, including denial of entry into medical
facilities, setting limits on when a patient can be
seen and denial of assistance to family members
or visitors. Although existing legislation on equal
opportunities and non-discrimination is reinforced,
there are circumstances when members of Roma
communities may be subject to verbal abuse,
delayed care, segregation, or outright denial of
services on grounds of their ethnicity. Roma women
are disproportionately affected by such treatment
given their generally higher interaction with health
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ACCESS TO HEALTHCARE AND LONG-TERM CARE: Equal for women and men?
services as mothers and carers for other family
members. Poor communication between health
professionals and Roma health system users limits
access to information on health issues. Moreover,
the Bulgarian report highlights that residential
segregation puts the Roma at a greater physical
distance from healthcare facilities, and they often
live in areas without a general practitioner.
One of the greatest barriers for migrant men and
women in accessing health services are the language
difficulties between migrant patients and health
personnel. Difficulties in verbal communication,
however, not only include language barriers but also
misunderstandings due to cultural differences in
interpreting health and illnesses. As described in the
Austrian EGGSI report, ‘the results of these difficulties
in communication between migrant patients and
health personnel are wrong diagnoses, inefficient
treatment and long “care history” of patients. In
particular in sensitive areas of medical treatment
such as gynaecology and obstetrics very few
personnel with migrant background can be recruited.
Furthermore, there are incisive information deficits
by migrants about the services of the Austrian health
system. The deficient information about the Austrian
healthcare system and the deficient provision of health
programmes for this particular population group
result in a lacking utilisation of preventive, psychosocial and rehabilitation measures’. In Germany, where
legal migrants are medically insured and thereby have
access to general medical treatment, a great number
of female migrants who live in traditional family
structures are reported to need language assistance
from relatives when they see a doctor. In certain
cases, they are accompanied by representatives of
organisations offering social assistance for migrants.
Many women prefer doctors where the staff is able
to speak the same language as they do, in order to
be more independent and to protect their privacy.
Due to language problems, some women refrain from
seeing a doctor even if necessary — and do not make
use of preventive check-ups (dentist, gynaecologist,
etc.). Within the National action plan for integration
(Nationaler Aktionsplan für Integration), the federal
states agreed on better integration for migrants and
people with a migration background in the health
system through an ‘inter-cultural’ opening (385), with
the support of integration counsellors.
(385) Bundesministerium
für
Gesundheit,
BMG
(2007),
Mitglieder, mitversicherte Angehörige und Krankenstand,
Jahresdurchschnitte 1998 bis 2007, Berlin.
104
Religious practices
Religious beliefs may affect access to healthcare both in
the case of immigrants and in the case of nationals, for
different reasons. For example, in Belgium hospitals face
refusals from women of some ethnic minorities (or their
partners/husbands) to be treated by a male gynaecologist
even when an urgent intervention is needed. In this
case, intercultural mediation services, available in public
hospitals (386), can help to deal with difficulties posed by
cultural differences. Cyprus has always had a significant
Muslim minority, which is growing given the influx of
immigrants and workers from many countries with
Muslim populations. These changes call for the need to
offer services that are culturally sensitive and offer options
that do not clash with an individual’s culture and value
system (e.g. female gynaecologists for Muslim women).
Also, Maltese NGOs report that, due to their religious
beliefs, Muslim women may find it unacceptable to be
examined by male medical doctors, and often request
the assistance of female social workers (387) when in need
of healthcare, but this may not always be granted in
Malta’s state hospitals. In the Netherlands, considering
that the Islamic tradition does not allow women to
talk to men they are not married to, a care-consultant
who is equipped with knowledge and experience with
different cultures mediates between the healthcare user
and healthcare provider. However, the care-consultant
cannot replace a medical professional. Therefore, it is still
necessary to develop intercultural competences among
healthcare professionals.
Other concerns have been presented in the EGGSI national
reports for Cyprus and Poland. In Cyprus, emergency
contraception is provided by the Cyprus Family
Planning Association (CFPA) and by pharmacies without
prescription. Nevertheless, the CFPA has received several
reports and complaints by women who were refused to
be provided with the pill by pharmacists, who insisted on
requesting prescription, either due to ignorance of the
regulation or on the basis of conscience issues. In Poland,
89 % of the population is Catholic (388) and the Church
has a visible impact on sexual (conception, birth control,
in vitro fertilisation) and ethical education at schools as
well as on political parties and political life. The Catholic
Church stance on abortion, birth control and fertilisation
methods also affect doctors’behaviour and their readiness
to implement certain medical procedures (389).
(386) According to the EGGSI network national report 2009, Belgium,
the Federal Ministry in charge of Health is financing such
services in hospitals.
(387) Draws on an interview with the Organisation for the Integration
and Welfare of Asylum Seekers (OIWAS) in February 2009.
(388) Central Statistical Office Poland (2008), Concise Statistical
Yearbook, Warsaw. http://www.stat.gov.pl
(389) Public Opinion Research Centre (2008), Acceptability of in vitro
fertilization. http://www.cbos.com.pl
2. Gender differences in access to healthcare
Sexual orientation
A specific cultural issue that affects access to
healthcare is linked to sexual orientation. Gay and
lesbian organisations frequently report discrimination
in healthcare access (390). Lesbian women for example,
often remain ‘invisible’ in the public health system; their
sexual orientation is not addressed. This is due to the fact
that both medical staff and health researchers have little
knowledge about the lifestyles, health requirements
and specific health risks of lesbian women. It remains
to be seen whether lesbian women have specific
health risks and illnesses, whether they participate
in early detection examinations less frequently than
other women. In this regard, in Austria in October
1998, an Anti-discrimination unit for same sex lifestyles
was established by the Vienna city administration.
This was the recognition of the fact that lesbian, gay
and transgender lifestyles have so far not yet been
sufficiently perceived and recognised. In Austria, there
are no other specific institutions for the promotion of
sexual health for lesbian women, gynaecological health
services such as family planning institutions, prenatal
services or birth clinics are predominantly focused on
the needs of heterosexual women. Therefore, lesbian
women utilise such service provisions less often, also
due to fear of being stigmatised or discriminated by
the health personnel.
Working culture
An additional cultural barrier that is worth mentioning
mainly affects men and relates to the flexibility of
services. An explanation given in the UK for men’s lower
use of primary care services is that the opening hours
are incompatible with the long working hours that
characterise the UK labour market. Men are unable or
uninclined to access primary care services because they
are more likely than women to work full-time and to
work more than 45 hours per week (391). In some cases,
similar difficulties have been reported for single mothers
in accessing healthcare, due to reconciliation problems.
Good practice examples in overcoming
cultural barriers
There are a number of specific programmes organised
throughout Europe to overcome cultural barriers. In
most cases, there is a general strategy addressing
intercultural barriers, but some peculiarities emerge.
Box 2‑22 — Good practices in some European countries
Italy — Department of Prevention
Healthcare for Migrants
Among the existing local experiences of healthcare
specifically targeted at migrants, San Gallicano hospital
in Rome is particularly interesting, where there is the
Department of Prevention Healthcare for migrants (legal or
not), ethnic minorities and the homeless. A specific service
for female health promotion offers immigrant women
gynaecological and oncological examinations. Most of the
doctors are female and a translation service is provided.
Liechtenstein — A programme to improve
communication and integration of the
healthcare system
In Liechtenstein, the Working Group against Racism,
Anti-Semitism, and Xenophobia stated that foreigners
and Liechtenstein citizens are treated and provided with
medical care equally (392). However, the health expert group
(part of the Working Group against Racism, Anti-Semitism,
and Xenophobia) points out that physicians often lack
cultural background knowledge to be able to grasp and
appropriately react to the whole range of foreigners’
health problems: communication difficulties with foreignlanguage patients make treatment in doctor’s offices and
hospitals more difficult. The frequently used solution of
(392) Working Group against Racism Anti-Semitism and Xenophobia
(2007), Integration of the foreign population in Liechtenstein, Vaduz.
(390) As an example see Ireland Gay Health Forum. http://www.irishhealth.com/article.html?id=15671
using family members as translators conflicts with doctor–
patient confidentiality. The fact that foreign-language
migrants are mainly present in the Liechtenstein healthcare
system as patients and not as professionals aggravates the
language problem.
Based on the results of the 2007 integration report, the
following measures have been initiated in Liechtenstein:
(a) In order to improve communication and integration of
the healthcare system, the Director of the Office of Public
Health became a member of the Working Group against
Racism, Anti-Semitism, and Xenophobia.
(b) Physicians were provided with a list of interpreters,
an overview of all contact offices and persons for cultural
communication in Liechtenstein and Switzerland, and the
revised Ordinance on the Movement of Persons. In addition,
the Health and Integration Office of Caritas Switzerland in
Chur offered to serve as a contact point and clearing house.
Accordingly, physicians in Liechtenstein can also make use
of the list of interpreters provided by Caritas.
(c) Physicians were introduced to the existing overview of
integration services in Liechtenstein in the updated social
encyclopaedia on the Internet. The Information and Contact
Centre for Women’s brochure in different languages was
also sent to doctors’ offices.
(d) Since July 2007, the National Hospital in Vaduz uses the
telephone interpreter service TeleLingua when communication
(391) Wilkins, D., Payne S., Granville, G., Branney, P. (2008), The Gender
and Access to Health Services Study, Department of Health,
London.
105
ACCESS TO HEALTHCARE AND LONG-TERM CARE: Equal for women and men?
difficulties arise between doctors or nurses and foreign-language
patients. Nine of the most commonly used foreign languages
are available. In emergencies and for shorter conversations,
the telephone service is an uncomplicated alternative to the
presence of interpreters. In this way, doctors and nurses no
longer have to rely on the family members of the patients who
may speak German, but who often lack the necessary expertise
and for whom the translation is too difficult.
Romania — The National programme for
health assistance at community level
A national network of health mediators has been created,
facilitating contact between health personnel and Roma
communities; mediators are Roma representatives
(especially women) trained and hired at District Public
Health Authorities. Roma health mediators prove to be
influential in identifying discriminatory behaviour and
helping healthcare workers to dispel prejudices that cause
inferior and degrading treatment. They also help in raising
awareness in Roma communities about rights, complaint
mechanisms and alternative sources of healthcare.
Slovenia — National programme for the
Roma community
In Slovenia, where the group that stands out as the most
vulnerable in terms of cultural (and language) barriers to
accessing healthcare is the Roma population, a National
programme of measures for Roma is under preparation,
which also includes measures to reduce health inequality in
the Roma community.
Sweden — A programme dedicated to
overcoming cultural barriers
A programme promoted by the Centre for Clinical Research
Västerås of the University of Uppsala dedicated to overcoming
cultural barriers was initiated by Asylhälsan (Asylum Seekers
Health Care) with participation in an Equal project on
Asylum seekers in the region of Uppsala and Västmanland
carried out by the non-governmental organisation of UP
AROS ASYL (393). The overall objective of the programme was
to reach Arabic-speaking women and provide information of
self-care as well as to develop competencies at the county
council to better treat and understand their needs.
Source: EGGSI network national reports 2009.
(393) UP AROS ASYL (n.y.), Asyl- och Integrationshälsan, slutrapport.
http://193.13.74.89/d2/public/153/071025Asylhalsan.pdf
2.2.3. Geographical and physical barriers
Even if in most European countries access to (basic)
healthcare is a universal right, geographical disparities
(such as distance from hospitals and healthcare centres,
as well as lack of accessible transportation systems)
and physical barriers (such as facilities for the disabled)
in the delivery of care may prevent actual access.
These barriers affect especially women living in rural
or mountainous areas, or disabled and elderly women.
The following section explores these difficulties.
Geographical barriers
Geographical variations in coverage and provision
are a relevant barrier to accessing healthcare. ‘Supply
is typically greater in bigger cities and more densely
populated areas, whilst there is a lack of GPs or
family doctors and certain basic specialist services
in small, rural and remote areas. Hospitals are often
unevenly distributed and as a large proportion
of medical staff is concentrated in hospitals this
exacerbates geographical disparities. Geographical
features (islands, mountains) may be an explanation
for some Member States but in others (e.g. Finland,
Spain, Denmark, Italy) disparities are the result of
a decentralised decision-making process giving
regional and local authorities policy discretion and
permitting regional differences in funding. While
allowing services to adapt to local circumstances,
local decision-making has led to varying treatment
and coverage as well as to variations in staff levels. It
106
should also be noted that care provision within cities
can be equally mixed, exhibiting variations between
richer and poorer neighbourhoods’ (394).
Geographical barriers are first of all a problem due
to the territorial configuration of the country. Some
countries suffer greatly from this aspect.
In Greece inequalities in health can have a geographical
dimension, as the lack of health services in some rural or
remote regions can result in different health outcomes.
The Greek National Health System, consisting of
numerous hospitals and health centres across the
country, covers the majority of the Greek regions.
Nevertheless, significant disparities between regions
exist in terms of the number of doctors and hospital
beds per 100 000 inhabitants, mainly due to the specific
geographical configuration of the country.
Another frequent problem is the unequal distribution
of assistance throughout a country due to the political
and administrative configuration of the healthcare
system. The main reasons for disparity are linked for
example to federal structures, allowing consistent
autonomy to local areas for the organisation of the
health system, or to specific choices made in order to
rationalise and improve the quality or the efficiency of
the health system.
(394) European Commission (2007), Joint report on social protection
and social inclusion — Supporting document, SEC(2007) 329,
Brussels.
2. Gender differences in access to healthcare
In the following table several examples across Europe are reported:
Box 2‑23 — The unequal geographical distribution
of healthcare in some European countries
Austria
The density of practising physicians is subject to considerable
variation across the country. Rural regions such as the
Land of Burgenland in the east (32 physicians per 100 000
inhabitants), Vorarlberg (345 per 100 000) or Upper Austria
(362 per 100 000) have the lowest density. (395) In contrast,
Vienna, the federal capital and the largest city by far, has
700 practising physicians available per 100 000 inhabitants
and thus more than twice as many as the abovementioned,
largely rural areas. In a ‘location plan’ which is drawn up by
the health insurance funds and the physicians’ chambers,
the number and the provincial distribution of self-employed
physicians is specified. The aim of this regulatory measure is
to avoid imbalance in the provision of healthcare.
Belgium
In Belgium, recent measures promote the presence
of general practitioners in less well-off zones through
financial incentives, in order to have ‘care zones’ with
facilities accessible within a radius of 20 km. This relates
mainly to preventive and diagnostic care. Meanwhile, an
emerging concern is the policy to have ‘reference services’
within a limited number of hospitals (such as for advanced
device) with the aim of lowering health costs and increase
efficiency of care. Accessing such ‘reference services’ can
be more problematic for people living in more isolated
zones or for people who have to rely on public transport.
This ‘geographical accessibility’ would be an important
aspect to consider when monitoring the policy (396).
Cyprus
The main problem is the lack of provision for certain
specialised services in (accessible) health centres across
the island. Thus, women seeking specialised preventative
care and treatment may be unable to do so due to the lack
of available specialised healthcare in rural areas, as most
rural health centres provide only primary care. For example,
women invited to undergo breast cancer screening tests must
visit main district hospitals, and although a mobile unit was
donated to the Ministry of Health by Europa Donna Cyprus, it
is not currently in use. In relation to sexual and reproductive
health and family planning, public hospitals, both general
hospitals in the main cities, as well as regional hospitals or
healthcare centres, usually offer only limited services, mostly
related to pregnancy and reproductive health. For women
living in rural areas, this may complicate matters even further,
since they may have to travel longer distances to access
private clinics in urban or semi-urban centres.
Estonia
In rural areas, the distance to the closest healthcare facilities
is much greater than in urban areas. Some 43 % of rural
(395) Hofmarcher, M., Rack, H. (2006), Austria: Health system review,
Health Systems in Transition 2006, No 8(3).
(396) Since recently, travel costs can be reimbursed for cancer
patients by the compulsory insurance.
households have medical aid further than 5 km compared to
1.4 % in urban areas in 2007 (397). In 2008, a study (398) showed
that going to a family doctor was not easy for 13 % of the
population: the main reasons were the distance from home
and the dependence on public transportation (58 % did not
find it easy) which is not always affordable or suitable.
Hungary
The 2006 Health Service Reform was aimed at rationalising
the system. People now have to travel farther, and it takes
more time and more money. This affects women, who travel
more often by public transport than men do, and especially
elderly women, who are often more dependent on family
members’ help. This situation is particularly true for people
who have disadvantaged social positions in general, due to
the elevated costs. The 2008 National Strategy Report on
Social Inclusion and Social Protection cited these difficulties
to some extent by emphasising that deficient service
coverage meant serious disadvantage to old people living
in small settlements (399).
Italy
In Italy, geographical barriers are strictly related to strong
disparities between northern and southern regions that are
paramount when considering quality healthcare services
and the diffusion of prevention programmes. The prevalence
of screening programmes show a great difference between
north-central and southern Italy. In the north-central regions
of the country, the extension of mammographic and cervical
screening programmes is nearly 100 % and the extension
of colorectal programmes is over 50 %. In the southern
regions, the figures are considerably lower. This difference
tends to grow if we also consider compliance to invitation.
Compliance is higher in the north-central Italy compared to
the southern part of the country. The combination of these
two parameters (invitation and compliance) increases the
inequality in early diagnosis between north and south.
Portugal
Pregnant women constitute a group for whom geographical
barriers are considered highly penalising, particularly
at the time of delivery. The problem has to do with the
new organisation of health services, committed to the
concentration of hospital services, with the closure of
many hospitals, which means that many pregnant women
have to look for help at the time of delivery in locations far
from their homes. In the last two years (corresponding to
the closure of maternity wards), the number of deliveries
made in ambulances has increased, with the associated
risks to mother and child. This reflects the effect that the
(397) National Statistic Institute, Estonia. http://pub.stat.ee
(398) Faktum e Arikov (2008), Patsientide hinnangud tervisele ja
arstiabile, Tallin.
http://www.haigekassa.ee/uploads/userfiles/Patsientide%20
rahulolu%202008.pdf
(399) National Strategy Report on Social Protection and Social
Inclusion 2008–10 (NSR), Hungary, Budapest, 2008.
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ACCESS TO HEALTHCARE AND LONG-TERM CARE: Equal for women and men?
actual policies of the closing down of maternity units has on
women. Moreover, the concentration of the population in
certain areas of the country leads to organisational choices
that end up providing uneven services. This is the case for
uterine cancer screening, available to women living in the
metropolitan area of the country’s capital, Lisbon, but it is
not available to women living in other areas.
Romania
Rural residents typically have smaller incomes and lower
levels of education and are more likely to be uninsured.
Specific problems of access to healthcare by women in rural
areas include the lack of healthcare providers, particularly
for primary healthcare and obstetricians, due to recruitment
and retention issues. Relatively impoverished populations,
lack of facilities and physicians for back-up arrangements
make obstetrical practice in rural places unattractive. As
a result, rural women face more challenges related to
childbirth and must seek prenatal care and delivery outside
of their county of residence. An increase in distance and
travel time to prenatal care facilities decreases the use of
such care, leading to relatively poor outcomes.
Spain
Territorial disparities are probably one of the most worrisome
consequences of the federal administrative organisation.
The Spanish health system is entirely made up of individual
regional systems, which the central government guarantees
access to under equal conditions as well as legislating major
public health issues. However, according to the last health
survey published by the National Institute of Statistics,
gender disparities in terms of access to health services are
not equally distributed among Spanish regions. The share of
the population who suffered from some kind of impediment
to accessing the health system is always higher among
women (except for the case of Castilla-La Mancha), but
some regions show particularly worrying gaps according to
gender: La Rioja, Galicia, Valencia, and Catalonia (400).
Sweden
In Sweden, 21 county councils and regions are responsible
for supplying their citizens with healthcare services.
The population in these 21 areas ranges from 60 000 to
1 900 000 (401). Within the framework of national legislation
and varying healthcare policy initiatives from the national
government, the county councils and regions have
substantial decision-making powers and obligations
(400) National Institute of Statistics, National Health Survey 2006.
(401) SKL and Socialstyrelsen (2008), Quality and Efficiently in Swedish
Health Care, Regional Comparisons 2007, Stockholm.
Another problem is the difficulty in accessibility due to
the lack of public transport. This is the case in Cyprus
where scarce public transportation limits autonomous
access to healthcare services for individuals who do not
have their own means of transportation, and may even
to some extent compromise confidentiality. Groups
especially affected by this are elderly women, and
immigrant or foreign workers living in Cyprus.
towards their citizens. There are only small differences in
accessing medical care in different geographical areas.
UK
A major issue in the UK concerns the variation in service
delivery according to location. There are geographical
variations in all aspects of healthcare, for example,
treatment and death rates in hospitals, cancer survival rates,
or access to drugs to treat multiple sclerosis or Alzheimer’s
disease, cancer screening programmes. For women, this
is particularly important regarding the availability of
contraception, IVF fertility treatment, abortion and breast
cancer survival rates. In 1999, the National Institute for Health
and Clinical Excellence (NICE) established which treatment
drugs should be widely available for free on the NHS. Where
drugs are not available, doctors can apply to local health
boards or Primary Care Trusts (PCTs) for exceptional funding
for individual patients. Treatment therefore depends on a
doctor’s inclination to make the case for individual patients
(or ‘candidacy’, which is gendered) and on the criteria of
a local health board. Differences usually exist between
deprived and more wealthy geographical locations. A further
geographical barrier relates to access to care in rural rather
than urban locations. Access to healthcare is lower for rural
populations: 19 % of people in England and 40 % in Wales
and Scotland (402). Mortality rates in road traffic accidents,
asthma and cancer are worse in rural areas. Cancer is
diagnosed later and intervention for cardiovascular disease
is lower (403). Increasingly, NHS health services are being
centralised within large, specialised hospitals. Patients can
lose out when health services are provided in such a way
and public transport links are poor. Distance to services
makes uptake for health services particularly hard for people
in rural communities. This may affect women more, as they
are more likely than men to rely on public transport. There
is also evidence that ethnic minorities in rural locations (e.g.
Scotland (404)) experience multiple disadvantages. Women
from these groups might be particularly affected by a lack
of female practitioners (405).
Source: EGGSI network national reports 2009 .
(402) Baird, A. G., Wrights, N. (2006), Poor Access to Care: rural health
deprivation?, British Journal of General Practice, August, pp. 567–8.
(403) Baird, A. G., Wrights, N. (2006), Poor Access to Care: rural health
deprivation?, British Journal of General Practice, August, pp. 567–8.
(404) Scottish Executive, Fair for All. http://www.scotland.gov.uk/library3/society/ffar-15.asp
(405) Campbell, J.L., Ramse, J., Green, J. (2001), Age, gender,
socioeconomic, and ethnic differences in patients, assessment of
primary health care, Quality in Health Care, No 10, pp. 94.
The smallest countries (Liechtenstein, Luxembourg and
Malta) tend not to have these kinds of problems, nor
does Slovenia, where a good geographical coverage of
healthcare throughout the country exists. Only 0.3 % had
unmet needs for medical examinations in 2006, which
is far below the EU average (at 7.6 %) (406). In addition,
only 0.2 % had unmet medical needs due to access
problems (too expensive, too far to travel, long waiting
(406) Eurostat data based on EU-SILC survey, 2006.
108
2. Gender differences in access to healthcare
list). In the Netherlands, qualitative analysis and patient
experience studies both show that geographical access
is not a major problem for the (large) majority of the
population (407). Limited physical access to healthcare
may however affect older men and women who might
have problems reaching certain healthcare institutes
by public transport. The announced restrictions for the
reimbursement of mobility costs within the Exceptional
Medical Expenses Act could have a negative influence
on this issue. On the other hand, many local civil society
initiatives within the framework of the Social Support
Act have a positive effect, as in many places, especially
in rural areas, volunteers are mobilised to standby
for the transport of people with specific mobility
problems. The physical mobility problems of older men
and women are addressed by these local initiatives.
In Poland 39 % of the population lives in rural areas
(men 40 %, women 37.7 %) but, as far as the gender
composition of the population is concerned, the rural
population is more balanced than the urban one. In
rural areas, one outpatient clinic serves more than
4 000 people, in urban areas more than 2 220 (408).
Clearly, geographical barriers may be more important
for the rural than for the urban population. However,
according to a 2006 survey, the share of respondents
indicating that they renounced medical consultation
because of the distance from the health centres was
rather low, being somehow lower for men (2.7 %)
than for women (6 %). In general, lack of time, money
and distant dates of consultations were much more
important, both for men and for women (intensity
according to gender was different) (409).
Box 2‑24 — General approach and provisions adopted
to address geographical barriers across Europe
Estonia
Romania
A good example of a strategy to overcome geographical
barriers is the breast cancer screening programme which
includes a mammography bus that drives around the
southern part of the country to bring the service closer to
women in all areas. This is very important in improving the
provision of service throughout the country, as the hospitals
providing mammography are only available in the three
largest towns. As a result, the participation rate in rural areas
is quite high. In 2009, the Tartu University Hospital will rent
the bus from the Estonian Cancer Society in order to perform
about 7 000 mammograms (out of 10 000 performed by
Tartu University Hospital).
The Ministry of Public Health promoted measures such as
the planning and allocation of human resources according to
the needs of the population and increasing the professional
competency of medical personnel; offering incentives
for family doctors to relocate towards isolated rural areas
(economic and accommodation incentives); developing the
infrastructure for health service providers and providing
medical equipment; reducing the differences in medical
practice by elaborating guidelines and clinical protocols (i.e.
clinical guidelines for obstetrics and gynaecology have been
approved). Decentralisation of health services is an ongoing
process and ensuring adequate resources for the provision
of healthcare is essential to facilitate the access to health
services for people living in poor communities/regions.
Moreover, the majority of the population (75 %) has the
possibility to ask for advice from family doctors by phone,
which may help in some cases. There is also a national
medical phone line providing medical help 24/7 in Estonian
and in Russian. However, only 40 % of people are aware of its
existence and 12 % of people have called it (410).
Poland
There are examples of arrangements intended to overcome
geographical barriers in accessing health treatment,
targeted especially at the female population. Under the
programme ‘Early diagnosis of breast cancer’, mobile
mammography units, special ‘Mammobuses’ equipped with
units for performing mammography screening have been
widely used. They function in all regions (voivodships), and
the schedule of their operations (places and times) is posted
on the Internet and in local healthcare centres.
(410) Faktum e Arikov (2008), Patsientide hinnangud tervisele ja
arstiabile, Tallin.
http://www.haigekassa.ee/uploads/userfiles/Patsientide%20
rahulolu%202008.pdf
(407) Westert, G.P., van den Berg, M.J., et al. (2008), Dutch Healthcare
Performance Report, Bilthoven.
As an example of good practice, it is worth mentioning
a measure promoted by the Ministry of Public Health
that proved to be successful: the creation of a network of
community nurses, including the provision of appropriate
training for them, in order to create a link between primary
healthcare and community social services. The network of
community nurses contributes to reducing the barriers in
accessing health units for many elderly or disabled women
and men with mobility problems (especially those living in
rural areas).
Concerning in particular Roma Communities, within the
National Programme for Health Assistance at Community
Levels, a national network of health mediators (Ministerial
Order No 619/2002 approving the health mediator
profession and related technical norms) was created to
facilitate contact between health professionals and Roma
communities; the mediators are Roma representatives
(especially women), trained and hired by District Public
Health Authorities. Roma health mediators proved to be
influential in identifying discriminatory behaviour and
helped healthcare workers dispel prejudices that cause
(408) GUS (2008), Demographic Yearbook 2007.
(409) Główny Urząd Statystyczny [Central Statistical Office], GUS
(2007).
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ACCESS TO HEALTHCARE AND LONG-TERM CARE: Equal for women and men?
inferior and degrading treatment. They also helped in raising
awareness in Roma communities about rights, complaint
mechanisms and alternative sources of healthcare.
for example, mobile mammography screening units, have
successfully been delivered in rural communities (411).
UK
Source: EGGSI network national reports 2009.
There are initiatives to improve transport access in rural
locations and to promote alternative service access, for
example, via NHS Direct and the Internet. Mobile services,
Physical barriers
Many EGGSI national reports specify that barriers
preventing the disabled to access health structures
appear to be gender neutral: these are the barriers that
reduce the accessibility to preventive medical services
and treatments. Not much literature and debate exists
on this issue, which deserves much more attention
than it has been given so far.
(411) Baird, G. A., Wrights, N. (2006), Poor Access to Care: rural health
deprivation?, British Journal of General Practice, August,
pp. 568.
A specific case has been reported in the Cyprus EGGSI
national report: women with disabilities experience
physical barriers in accessing gynaecological healthcare,
despite the fact that all public hospitals have a minimum
level of access for physically disabled persons; moreover
difficulties in accessing information on family planning
and sexual and reproductive health result in the reduced
provision of primary and preventative care (such as
breast cancer screening, Pap smears etc.).
Box 2‑25 — A good practice in Austria
In Austria during 2003, the Year of Disabilities, a number
of initiatives and projects for women with disabilities
were launched. The Vienna Women’s Health programme
carried out a project for removing barriers in access to
gynaecological treatment. Issues of sexual and reproductive
health (contraception, pregnancy, sexual abuse) for women
with disabilities have been discussed only marginally for
a long time, although they are equally relevant for them
as for women without disabilities. Much information and
awareness-building is still needed, e.g. in training medical
and nursing staff. The Vienna programme for women’s
health has carried out a project ‘barrierefrei. Gynäkologische
Vorsorge und Versorgung behinderter Frauen’ (412) since
2003, to evaluate the experiences of physicians in the
(412) Bizeps info — Barrierefrei Gynokologische Vorsorge und
Versorgung behinderter Frauen. http://www.bizeps.or.at/news.php?nr=4341
110
treatment of women with disabilities. Two thirds of the
interviewed physicians envisage an improvement of the
situation if the additional expenditure of time for dressing
and for the examination was paid, 44 % signalled the need
for subsidies to renovate their surgeries, 40 % asked for
financial support to buy specific equipment to treat disabled
persons, 42 % requested regular training in disability issues.
The organisation ‘Bizeps — centre for self-determined living’
published a brochure on facilities for disabled persons in
hospitals and other health institutions. The brochure is
written for disabled persons as well as physicians and other
health professions. A list with disability-friendly surgeries
and hospitals where personnel is competent in sign
language is available.
Source: EGGSI network national reports 2009.
3. Gender differences
in access to long-term
care (LTC)
This chapter is aimed at examining gender differences
in access to Long-term care (hereafter LTC) and existing
programmes and policies addressing barriers to access.
In order to place these issues in a general framework,
it is helpful to provide an overview on similarities and
differences in LTC systems among European countries.
rehabilitation, basic medical services, home nursing
and empowerment activities (413). In short, LTC consists
of a wide set of different services provided to people
who are dependant in conducting the Activities of
daily life (ADLs) (414) or Instrumental activities of daily
living (IADLs) (415).
Within the European Union, different LTC schemes
coexist, in terms of the extent of provision, benefits
and services provided and institutional settings.
Nevertheless, there are common grounds among
Member States, in particular from a gender perspective.
In most European countries, women are the majority of
both the beneficiaries and the care suppliers. In some
countries the greater number of women among LTC
beneficiaries is due to their longer lifespan: the death
of their husbands leave them alone at home and when
their health conditions do not allow their remaining
at home unattended, the only alternative for them is
institutionalisation. Regarding the role played by women
as care providers, they are the main caregivers, usually
supplying unpaid, informal care which often impacts on
their quality of life.
All over the EU, various provisions concerning LTC have
been allocated. Service provision can be distinguished on
the basis of two variables: those who provide care and the
place where care is provided. Concerning the first variable
— care providers — a difference must be recognised
between formal and informal care. With reference to
the second variable — where the care is provided — a
distinction has to be made between institutional care
and care at home. Institutions include nursing homes,
residential care homes and old-age homes where there
is a permanent presence of care assistants. Care at home
may include care provided in houses and apartments
that are not built specifically for persons needing LTC, as
well as adapted housing, group living arrangements and
wherever there are no permanent care assistants (416).
Concerning barriers in access to LTC, EGGSI National
reports show that women are affected by cultural and
financial barriers more than men, in particular when
they are of ethnic minority: a specific section below
further explores this issue. Examples of provisions to
overcome these barriers have been implemented by
some EU Member States. Existing programmes are
mainly aimed at removing financial disadvantages,
improving the quality of care and supporting informal
care providers. As women are very often informal care
givers, programmes aimed at giving support to informal
care providers have a relevant gender impact in terms
of quality of life and remuneration for women’s informal
work: some countries have introduced forms of payment
for caregivers, such as Italy, or other types of support (see
the cases of the Netherlands and Liechtenstein below).
3.1.Overview of existing LTC
service provisions
According to the OECD, LTC can be defined as a range
of health and social services provided to individuals
in need of permanent assistance due to physical or
mental disability for short or long periods. LTC includes
The mix of benefit types — formal/informal,
economic support/direct provision of services and
institutionalisation/care at home — varies among
European countries, reflecting the organisational
features of each system more than population structure
and demographic developments. In particular, these
variations reflect different national approaches to
familial solidarity (incidence of informal care and
support for carers) (417).
In the last 15 years, European countries have experienced
reforms aimed at removing inequalities in access to
LTC and at improving the quality of care. These reforms
(413) Council of the European Union (2008), Joint Report on Social
Protection and Social Inclusion, Brussels.
(414) ADLs are activities that a person must perform every day such
as bathing, dressing, eating, getting in and out of bed, moving
around, using the toilet, and controlling bladder and bowel.
(415) IADLs include preparing own meals, clearing, laundry, taking
medication, getting to places beyond walking distance, shopping,
managing money affairs and using the telephone/Internet.
(416) OECD (2005), Consumer Direction and Choice in Long-Term Care for
Older Persons, Including Payments for Informal Care: How Can it Help
Improve Care Outcomes, Employment and Fiscal Sustainability?, Paris.
(417) Council of the European Union (2008), Joint Report on Social
Protection and Social Inclusion, Directorate-General for
Employment, Social Policy, Health and Consumer Affairs, Brussels.
http://register.consilium.europa.eu/pdf/en/08/st07/st07274.en08.pdf
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ACCESS TO HEALTHCARE AND LONG-TERM CARE: Equal for women and men?
present different features across countries as the solutions
provided resulted from the traditional LTC framework in a
given country. While northern European countries have
rationed service provision, continental countries have
proceeded to increase the number of people receiving
LTC considerably, and Mediterranean countries have
basically not changed their delivery system.
According to the Centre for European Social and
Economic Policies (hereafter CESEP) (418), in European
countries, the social care model — including LTC — can
be placed on a ‘continuum’ with the family care model
at one extreme and the state responsibility model at
the other (419). A third model, called the subsidiary
model, can be found in the middle.
Some authors call the first model informal care-led
model (420). This model is characterised by limited
public service coverage. The mix of services is generally
imbalanced, with a predominance of institutional
services, and involves a certain level of cash transfers.
Public intervention is generally aimed more at
supporting the incomes of persons in need of care than
providing them with the LTC services they need. Public
intervention occurs when family support isn’t sufficient
or the income of the person is very low and is not
sufficient to pay informal caregivers. Typical examples
of countries characterised by this model are Portugal,
Spain, Greece and Italy, where home care, provided by
public institutions, is traditionally underdeveloped.
In the second model, public services are much more
developed and public institutions more often provide
direct care rather than cash transfers. The underlying
objective of this model is to promote a high level of
regular employment in the care giving sector and
to meet the care needs of those who are not selfsufficient (421). This model has historically been adopted
in the Nordic countries.
The subsidiary model is typical of the francophone
continental area (France and Belgium) and other
(418) CESEP is an independent research consultancy specialising in the
development and assessment of employment policies, as well
as on policies for ensuring equal opportunities and combating
discrimination. CESEP collects and analyses qualitative and
quantitative information, and provides econometric testing
and modelling. CESEP provides policy recommendations for
the integration of disadvantaged groups, the management of
European programmes and the evaluation of projects and policies
(from CESEP website: http://www.cesep.eu)
(419) Ranci, C., Pavolini, E. (2007), New Trends of Long-Term Care
Policy in Western Europe, paper presented at the APSA Annual
Meeting 2007, Chicago, Illinois.
(420) Ranci, C. Pavolini, E. (2007), New Trends of Long-Term Care
Policy in Western Europe, paper presented at the APSA Annual
Meeting 2007, Chicago, Illinois.
(421) Ranci, C., Pavolini, E. (2007), New Trends of Long-Term Care
Policy in Western Europe, paper presented at the APSA Annual
Meeting 2007, Chicago, Illinois.
112
central European countries. It relies on the family as
the primary, responsible caregiver for the elderly,
with intermediate organisations providing services
that replace informal care when necessary (422). These
countries are in a middle position with reference to the
models previously described.
The UK is in the middle position, more inclined than
continental European countries towards the state
responsibility model, with widespread service provision,
especially in home care and a widespread programme
of cash transfers, such as attendance allowances (423).
Eastern European countries cannot be assimilated to a
specific model, despite sharing some common traits.
They reveal different characteristics in relation to social
policy systems adopted that are strongly influenced
by their specific path towards democracy and their
experience of market economy.
The balance between health services and social
services in LTC provision is another element that varies
among Member States. While healthcare provides
specific nurse or medical support for health problems,
social services aim at making the living conditions
more bearable providing supports concerning patients
daily care. Yet, the boundary between social and health
services is often not so clear.
The provision for health matters is usually regulated
through the framework of a national health system
(such as Greece, Italy, the Nordic countries and the
United Kingdom) or a national social insurance system
(such as Austria, France, Germany and the Netherlands),
while the social welfare systems to address social care
issues are usually administered by regional or local
governments. In most countries, the right to health
is thus defined quite differently than the right to
social care. Different legal arrangements and funding
bodies may also produce different accountability and
performance management regimens and targets,
and these can ultimately constitute major barriers to
integration (424).
Considering all these premises, it is clear that different
forms of provisions can be found all over European
countries according to the institutional framework for
LTC. The following box shows different institutional
settings in European countries.
(422) CESEP ASBL (2007), Exploring the synergy between promoting
active participation in work and in society and social, health
and long-term care strategies, Brussels. http://ec.europa.eu/employment_social/spsi/docs/social_
protection/final_report_en.pdf
(423) CESEP ASBL (2007), Exploring the synergy between promoting
active participation in work and in society and social, health and
long-term care strategies, Brussels.
(424) WHO (2008), Home care in Europe, Copenhagen. http://www.euro.who.int/Document/E91884.pdf
3. Gender differences in access to long-term care (LTC)
Box 3‑1 — LTC institutional settings
Belgium
In Belgium, long-term care is part of the integrated healthcare
system. A distinction must be made between the provision of
services, which can be: (i) linked to specific needs in healthcare
that are performed by care institutions (day care, hospitals
or convalescent or old people’s homes) that are covered by
health insurance benefits; (ii) aimed at helping people who
have lost autonomy, either due to illness, disability or old age.
These services can take different forms: financial benefits or
organised care services. In this area, competences are mainly
the responsibility of regions and communities.
Czech Republic
LTC is ensured by two systems: a healthcare system organised
by the Ministry of Health which is mainly financed by public
health insurance, and social services within the Ministry of
Labour and Social Affairs, which in turn is funded primarily
by the redistribution of state taxes.
Cyprus
There is no public long-term care insurance system in Cyprus.
Under the Public Assistance and Services Laws 1991–2003,
a person legally residing in Cyprus whose resources are not
sufficient to meet his/her basic and special needs may be
entitled to social assistance in kind and/or cash. The social
welfare services of the Ministry of Labour and Social Insurance
are responsible for the implementation of the above legislation.
Welfare Officers assess needs for LTC on an individual basis.
LTC is provided directly by government, community or private
institutions with state financing.
Denmark
The organisation of long-term care is the responsibility of the
municipalities based upon state legislation aimed at helping the
elderly to take the best care of themselves. Local municipalities
decide whether a person is eligible to receive care.
Estonia
LTC is provided by the Social Welfare Act (Sotsiaalhoolekande
seadus). Long-term care services are financed by the local
government and by the person in need of care or his/her family.
LTC is provided as in-kind social service and it is organised
regionally. Vocational rehabilitation is provided by the Labour
Market Board. Local authorities are responsible for the provision
of social rehabilitation (e.g. special transportation for disabled
persons, adaptation of the dwelling, personal assistant).
Finland
The main policy aim of long-term care is that as many persons in
need of LTC as possible should be able to live independent lives in
their own homes, and in a familiar social and living environment.
Living at home is supported with rapid-access professional
social welfare and healthcare services. The elderly over the age of
75 years are guaranteed an assessment of their service needs by
social care professionals. This is important since the vast majority
of elderly women live alone, far away from relatives. A home
visit programme allows the elderly to be under continuous
supervision and in contact with social care professionals.
Residential services and different forms of institutional care are
provided to people who no longer manage to live at home.
The main types of service provided are (i) home help and home
nursing care, meals, cleaning and other services, (ii) sheltered
accommodation, (iii) rehabilitation, assistance devices and health
services, (iv) services for veterans and (v) institutional care. Even
though receiving the services and benefits are needs tested, the
prices of municipal services are normally means tested. The fee
collected from clients covers less than 10 % of the costs of the
services. The rest is covered by taxes.
France
In France, existing service provisions for LTC (both cash and
kind) have recently changed and become broader. Policies
address two distinct categories of beneficiaries: dependant
elderly subjects and handicapped adults, covered by different
policies. Regarding LTC for the elderly, several cash provisions
exist to facilitate access to LTC, according to the degree of
autonomy: the ‘allocation personnalisée d’autonomie’ (APA) (425)
for dependant persons and the ‘Cleaning aid’ for autonomous
elderly people who need help in everyday life. Regarding LTC for
handicapped persons, a new handicap compensation provision
(Prestation de compensation du handicap) has been created. As
with the ‘allocation personnalisée d’autonomie’, the ‘Prestation
de compensation du handicap’ is personalised and calculated
according to the beneficiary’s needs.
Germany
There are around 11 000 itinerant nursing services with
214 000 employees, about 10 400 nursing homes with
approximately 546 000 employees. The majority (58 %) of
itinerant nursing services are provided by private suppliers,
41 % are provided by non-profit organisations and the share
of public services is only 2 % (426).
Greece
There is no specific branch of the insurance system responsible
for granting LTC benefits (both in cash and in kind); these are
granted through the system of sickness invalidity and survivors.
The typical LTC services are provided by state and by private
(both profit and non-profit) organisations.
Hungary
LTC still does not have a separate system: services providing
long-term care to people are supplied within the healthcare and
social service system. Professional policies pertaining to longterm care are basically shaped by the ministries in charge of
health and social affairs.
(425) The Personalised autonomy allowance (APA Allocation
personnalisée d’autonomie) is addressed to persons aged 60 and
more, living at home or in an institution, who are experimenting
a loss of autonomy. This allowance is personalised, according to
the beneficiaries’ needs (degree of autonomy, requested aid and
services) and income (but it is not means tested). It is provided with
an Aid plan (Plan d’aide): for beneficiaries living at home, a medicosocial team visits the patients and assesses their needs and necessary
aids to allow them to stay at home (the APA depends on the needs
and the resources of the patient); for beneficiaries in an institution,
the APA helps beneficiaries to pay for the ‘dependency tariff’
calculated according to the degree of autonomy/dependency.
(426) Backes, G. M., Amrhein, L., Wolfinger, M. (2008), Gender in der
Pflege, Herausforderungen für die Politik, Expertise im Auftrag
der Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung, Bonn. http://library.fes.de/pdf-files/wiso/05587.pdf
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ACCESS TO HEALTHCARE AND LONG-TERM CARE: Equal for women and men?
Italy
LTC in Italy is provided by two separate sectors (healthcare and
socially related healthcare) even if integration has increased
in the last few years, especially in the northern regions of
the country. Both of these sectors are programmed and
governed by regions, while local-level healthcare provisions
are the responsibility of the Local Health Units and socially
related healthcare provisions are the responsibility of the
municipalities. With regard to public home care, there are two
types of provision: home care assistance (Servizio di Assistenza
Domiciliare — SAD) and integrated home care assistance
(Assistenza Domiciliare Integrata — ADI). SAD is supplied by
municipalities through specifically trained social workers who
identify the needs and plan a tailored assistance project. ADI is
supplied by local health units, which provide the patient with
nursing and therapeutic care. With regard to residential LTC, a
national survey on social healthcare structures shows that just
2.0 % of over 65 year olds and 4.0 % of over 75 year olds live in
a nursing home (427).
Liechtenstein
In Liechtenstein an independent care insurance law is
lacking. The same is true for a legal definition of the concept
of ‘requirement for care’. Social protection in the case of need
for care is primarily guaranteed by the law regarding sickness
insurance and the law regarding accident insurance. There are
private organisations and public organisations that provide
care services in the home or inpatient services for medical
and geriatric care. Private as well as the public organisations
are non-profit organisations or non-profit foundations.
Lithuania
There is no official definition of LTC in Lithuania. LTC is granted
through several branches: social services, invalidity and sickness.
Provision of LTC benefits are organised at national, regional
and local levels. Government adopts long-term national
programmes and strategies for the social integration of
the disabled. Heads of the counties implement social
programmes and projects for the disabled at the county
level. Counties establish regional social service institutions
when the establishment of municipal ones would not be
economical. Heads of Counties are also responsible for the
provision of secondary specialised medical treatment.
Municipalities prepare and implement municipal programmes
for the social integration of the disabled. They are also
responsible for determining the need and the provision of
common and special social services for their residents.
Malta
Long-term care benefits are granted under different legislative
and administrative measures. Cash benefits are granted
under the Social Security Act and are both contributory
and non-contributory. Contributory benefits include mainly
invalidity pensions and disability pensions; non-contributory
benefits consist in disability pensions, pensions for the blind
and social assistance for long-term invalids.
disabilities. Benefits in kind are granted under the national
health scheme and subsidiary legislation is administered by
the Department for the Elderly and Community Care. The
benefits include free treatment and care at all state hospitals
and clinics and free medicines, and are subject to a means test.
Free medicine is given to people with chronic diabetes.
Residential care is provided by the state or by non-profit
predominantly religious voluntary organisations and by the
private commercial sector. The state’s provision for residential
care can be divided into two categories: high (mostly in quasihospital settings) and low support (in smaller residential
homes based in the community).
The Netherlands
In the Netherlands, the Exceptional Medical Expenses Act is
the basis for the financing and organisation of LTC. Before a
person can qualify for care under the Exceptional Medical
Expenses Act, it is necessary to establish whether care is really
required and, if so, what type of care and how much care is
needed. This ‘indication’ is issued by an organisation called
CIZ (Independent assessment organisation), responsible for
impartially, objectively and thoroughly determining the care
required.
Most care under the Exceptional Medical Expenses Act is
provided by institutions. The Exceptional Medical Expenses
Act insurance scheme is funded through premiums paid by
the people covered by the scheme, by state subsidies and by
personal contributions from care recipients. Contributions are
collected through the income and payroll tax systems.
Norway
The municipalities are responsible for providing reasonable,
high-quality healthcare and social services to everyone in need
of them, regardless of age, gender or social background. There
are several relevant long-term strategies and programmes
i.e. the 2015 Care Plan, the National Strategy for Specialised
Health Care 2008–12 and the 2008–12 Dementia Plan. The aim
of the 2015 Care Plan is to address the main future challenges
in elderly care in a long-term perspective (428).
Poland
In Poland, public long-term care (LTC) is administered by the
Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Labour and Social Policy.
While the former is responsible for healthcare and nursing
service provisions, the latter is in charge of providing nursing and
daily-living care — but not specialised healthcare — services.
These responsibilities may sometimes overlap in part and
cooperation is needed. LTC granted within the social security
sector involves local government to a large extent. This is not
so much the case with healthcare procedures. Both sectors are
widely supported by non-governmental organisations.
Romania
Additionally, Agenzija Sapport, a government agency,
provides limited long-term care benefits in kind to people with
Local councils are responsible for service organisation and
provide services directly or through partnership contracts with
non-governmental and/or religious organisations. Generally,
assignment to these care homes only becomes available upon
the death of a resident. Referral places (i.e. for a patient to be
accepted there after hospitalisation) do not exist.
(427) Istat (2003), L’assistenza residenziale in Italia: Regioni a
confronto, Rome.
(428) For further information see the last section of this chapter.
114
3. Gender differences in access to long-term care (LTC)
Slovenia
LTC in Slovenia is not uniformly organised or centrally
coordinated: it is linked to different systems, mainly in the
field of healthcare and social protection.
Spain
In Spain the endorsement of the Law 39/2006 on the
Promotion of Personal Autonomy and Care for Dependant
Persons, known as the Dependant care law (DCL), has
implied a highly remarkable advancement in the field of
social protection. In particular this law (DCL) created the
National system of dependency (NSD), which is managed
by the Territorial council of national system of dependency
(NSD), for the arrangement of LTC system. With regard to
financial resources, the Dependant care law has established
a contribution system for LTC: (i) Central government, which
finances a guaranteed minimum; (ii) Regional governments,
which provide contributions of an amount no smaller than the
one from central government.; (iii) Beneficiaries, depending on
their income and wealth, participate in co-payment, common
everywhere in Spain, determined by the Territorial council of
autonomy and dependence attention system (ADAS).
Sweden
The responsibility for the welfare of the elderly is divided
among three governmental levels. At the national level, the
3.2.Overview of existing service
provisions for LTC from a
gender perspective
In order to outline the existing service provisions for
LTC from a gender perspective, there are two key issues
to be addressed:
a. the role of women as informal caregivers;
b. the increasing demand and use of LTC by women.
The role of women as informal caregivers
As far as existing service provisions for LTC are
concerned, a crucial difference from a gender
perspective is between formal and informal care.
According to the OECD (429), the difference between
formal and informal care depends on who provides the
services. In particular:
1. formal LTC includes care provided in institutions,
such as nursing homes, or care provided to
recipients living at home by professionally trained
care assistants. Formal care is provided by care
assistants under an employment contract with
LTC-service recipients or agencies providing LTC;
(429) OECD (2006), Projecting OECD Health And Long-Term
Care Expenditures: What Are The Main Drivers? Economic
Department Working Papers No 477, Paris, p. 9.
http://www.oecd.org/dataoecd/57/7/36085940.pdf
parliament and the government have set out policy aims
and directives by means of legislation and economic steering
measures. At the regional level, county councils or regions are
responsible for the provision of health and medical care. And
at the local level, the 290 municipalities are legally obliged
to meet the social service and housing needs of the elderly.
Services provided by doctors are not included in the care for
which municipalities are responsible. Some municipalities
have contracted out their elderly care services to private
providers and in certain areas the elderly are allowed to
choose whether they want help at home or in special housing
managed by public or private operators.
UK
Long-term care in the UK is predominantly provided in
private households rather than communal or residential
homes. Some provisions for care in private homes derive
from public services. However, the majority of care provision
is from (mostly female) relatives and friends. Over the last
25 years there has been a marketisation of residential and
domestic care provision to increase flexibility and choice.
Local authorities no longer provide most social care directly.
Rather, three quarters of private care services are now in the
private for-profit sector.
Source: EGGSI network national reports 2009.
2. informal LTC consists in services provided by
someone who provides care without any form
of employment contract (430).
According to OECD, informal caregivers can be divided
into three categories. The first includes relatives, friends or
volunteers that do not receive any form of compensation
for their engagement. The second category includes
informal caregivers that receive cash benefits/allowance
as part of cash benefit programmes and consumerchoice programmes. They are usually relatives or friends.
The last category includes undeclared/illegal informal
caregivers. They are caregivers who receive some form
of payments by care recipients but without any form of
employment contract (431).
In conformity with the OECD report, the majority of LTC
workers, both formal and informal are women, and this
is also what emerges from the EGGSI national reports.
■■
In Greece 80.9 % of help-providers are female and
the majority of elderly recipients are also women
(with an incidence of 50.7 %) (432). Informal caregivers are often middle-aged and frequently the
relationship between care providers and care
receivers is a child–parent relationship.
(430) OECD (2006), Projecting OECD Health and Long-term care
Expenditures: What are the main Drivers? Paris.
(431) OECD (2009), The Long-Term Care workforce: overview and
strategies to adapt supply to a growing demand, Paris.
(432) Triantafyllou, J. et al., (2006), The Family that Takes Care of
Dependant Older Persons, Eurofarmare, Athens.
115
ACCESS TO HEALTHCARE AND LONG-TERM CARE: Equal for women and men?
■■
In Austria about 80 % of the required LTC services
are rendered by relatives or other private helpers,
particularly women.
■■
In Bulgaria, the active involvement of family members
and close relatives in LTC service provision for the
elderly puts a lot of pressure on women as caregivers
(daughters, granddaughters, sisters, etc.) in terms of
time spent, job loss, lower pension, psychological
burden. All of these aspects seriously damage women’s
health. Women take on the majority of responsibility
for care, and they are especially subject to problems of
reconciliation between work and caring responsibilities
and insufficient social security. Existing regulations do
not encourage men to take over care responsibilities.
The impact on women of informal care giving is relevant,
as shown in Chapter 2: according to the WHO (433)
primary caregivers are frequently depressed and
anxious, and are likely to use psychotropic medications
to treat their psychological distress.
Given the relevance of informal care in many societies and
women’s predominance as carers, measures supporting
informal carers have a positive gender impact. Support for
informal caregivers may include information and training,
respite care, tax benefits and payments, regulations of
businesses or initiatives by private organisations aimed
at making it easier for family members to combine work
and care-giving (434). With reference to the last issue,
‘some governments have mandated that businesses
make medical leave available for family members to care
for their sick or disabled relatives, and some businesses,
on their own initiatives, have sought ways to help
informal caregivers’ (435). A few countries also provide
pension credits for caregivers who provide a substantial
amount of care, in order to partially compensate for the
time spent away from the labour market.
Box 3‑2 — Programmes aimed at supporting informal caregivers
France has innovated considerably in recent years: the
introduction of national assistance programmes for disabled and
dependant people has been accompanied by the development
of measures aimed at ‘rewarding’ caregivers, or at the purchasing
of services on the private market. The main programme is the
‘allocation personnalisée d’autonomie’ (APA), introduced in 2002
for dependant persons over 60. Thanks to the plan, beneficiaries
receive cash benefits of up to EUR 1 106 per month. It is a form of
‘co-payment’ for expenses incurred by beneficiaries. According
to the programme, teams of medical and social workers suggest
the best kind of assistance for each individual case (436).
In Italy some measures aimed at recognising and giving financial
support for the social assistance of families have been introduced
at the local level, while a national policy is still lacking (437).
In the Netherlands a national association for informal carers and
volunteers, Mezzo (438), provides information and support for
informal carers, professionals and local member organisations.
There are several local initiatives, often initiated and/or
supported by local governments, to support informal carers
with information and guidance concerning social security work
leave arrangements, tax issues, and also with the provision of
temporary replacement or the provision of childcare (439).
(436) Ranci, C., Pavolini, E. (2007), New Trends of Long-Term Care
Policy in Western Europe, paper presented at the APSA Annual
Meeting 2007, Chicago, Illinois.
(437) Ranci, C., Pavolini, E. (2007), New Trends of Long-Term Care
Policy in Western Europe, paper presented at the APSA Annual
Meeting 2007, Chicago, Illinois.
(438) Information provided by the non-profit making organisation
‘Mezzo’.
http://www.mezzo.nl/
(439) http://www.mezzo.nl/
(433) WHO (2003), Key policy Issues in Long-term care, Geneva.
http://www.who.int/chp/knowledge/publications/policy_
issues_ltc.pdf
116
In Liechtenstein, care work which takes place within the family
has not yet been legally regulated. It is mostly provided on
a voluntary basis, in particular by relatives. The family care
federation (Familienhilfeverband) performs voluntary work in
some cases and is financially supported by the state. A ‘social
time card’ (volunteer work certificate) is issued for those who
work on a voluntary basis. Volunteers are able to use the
volunteer work certificate to record their accomplishments
and how much time they have spent. The idea was that
evidence of volunteer work and corresponding training could
be important in particular for re-entering the workforce.
However, participation in these few activities was not as high
as expected. It is unclear whether this was due to a lack of
interest or to limited opportunities (440).
In Finland informal care has been a relevant issue of the policy
agenda for many years and some support has been provided:
the carer may be entitled to receive an informal/family caregivers’ allowance paid by the local government to the carer,
who often is a spouse or mother (or other relative). These carers
are also entitled to ‘free days’ from care. The system presents
some critical points although the allowance and leave system
is better than no compensation at all. Gender problems occur
when informal carers are working-age women: there has been
little attention and encouragement to promote their return to
the labour market. Another relevant problem concerns older
carers, who are often in need of care services themselves.
Source: EGGSI network national reports.
(440) Liechtenstein Familienhilfe Verband — allgemeine Prinzipien.
http://ec.europa.eu/employment_social/
missoc/2006/02/2006_02_li_de.pdf
(434) WHO (2003), Key policy Issues in Long-Term Care, Geneva.
http://www.who.int/chp/knowledge/publications/policy_
issues_ltc.pdf
(435) WHO (2003), Key policy Issues in Long-Term Care, Geneva.
http://www.who.int/chp/knowledge/publications/policy_
issues_ltc.pdf
3. Gender differences in access to long-term care (LTC)
The increasing demand and use of LTC
by women
According to Eurostat, by 2060, 30 % of the population
in the 27 EU countries will be over 65. This means that
European countries will move from having four people
of working age for every person aged over 65 to a ratio
of 2 to 1 (441).
Demographic ageing, however, does not necessarily
mean an increase in demand of LTC (442). It is the increase
in life expectancy and the incidence of dependency
that creates increase in the demand for LTC. The
increase in life expectancy at birth (443) has implications
on the percentage of healthy life years, and therefore
on incidence of dependency: longer lifespan influences
needs in terms of LTC (formal and informal). Therefore,
this clearly affects women more than men.
What is important to note is that demographic
trends are quite different across Europe: the old-age
dependency ratio (444) is projected to be more than
60 (%) in Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Latvia, Lithuania,
Poland, Romania, Slovenia and Slovakia, and less than
45 % in Denmark, Ireland, Cyprus, Luxembourg and
the United Kingdom (445). In addition, there are great
differences within the European countries in life
expectancy and in healthy life years (see Chapter 1,
Table 1-1 — ‘Life expectancy and healthy life years for
EU-27, and Iceland and Norway, 2006’). Nevertheless,
in all the countries, women live a shorter percentage
of their life in good health than men, so more women
need LTC and for a longer period of time.
What emerges from the EGGSI national reports is that
there is an increasing demand and use of LTC by women.
It is in fact women who are the main beneficiaries of
LTC (both of service in kind and benefits in cash) in
the majority of the European states, considering their
longer life expectancy and their reliance on formal
care. Women’s reliance on formal care is linked to the
fact that they often have no care alternatives in their
household. Generally speaking, elderly women are
more likely to live alone than men.
(441) European Commission (2009), The 2009 Ageing Report.
Economic and budgetary projections for EU-27 Member States
(2008–60), Brussels.
(442) European Commission (2008), Long-term care in the European
Union, Brussels.
http://ec.europa.eu/employment_social/news/2008/apr/long_
term_care_en.pdf
(443) European Commission (2008), Long-term care in the European
Union, Brussels.
http://ec.europa.eu/employment_social/news/2008/apr/long_
term_care_en.pdf
(444) The age-dependency ratio is the proportion between elderly
and people in working age in a given country.
(445) European Commission (2009), The 2009 Ageing Report.
Economic and budgetary projections for EU-27 Member States
(2008–60), Brussels.
■■
In Austria, more than two thirds (68 %) of recipients
of the federal LTC allowance are women. At the end
of 2007, a total of 351 057 people received a longterm care allowance on the basis of the Federal Act
for Long-Term Care Allowance (446).
■■
In Bulgaria women constitute 54 % of the patients
in specialised establishments for social services in
communities (also including home care patronage,
day centres for elderly people, adults with
disabilities, street children etc.) (447).
■■
In Estonia home services were provided to 6 428
persons, including 3 960 with special needs (i.e.
disabled) in 2007. Some 76 % of all service receivers
were women. Personal assistance service was
provided to 22 289 persons with special needs who
were assigned a personal carer, and 61 % of recipients
were women. Concerning the institutionalisation of
adults, according to the Ministry of Social Affairs, in
2006, of 4 737 recipients, 62 % were women (448).
■■
In France, regarding LTC for the elderly, women
represent the majority of beneficiaries, both at
home and in institutions. In June 2008, 1 094 000
persons received APA (449), among which women
represented a majority (seven out of 10). As shown
by the age and gender structure of the ‘allocation
personnalisée d’autonomie’ (APA) beneficiaries,
APA beneficiaries are mostly both elderly (85 %
are at least aged 75 and 45 % are at least aged 85)
especially when in institutions (55 % are aged 85
and more) and female (women represent 77 % of
the APA beneficiaries aged 75 and more, while they
represent 64 % of the whole population in the same
age bracket) (450).
(446) Statistik Austria (n.y.), Social benefits at federal level: Federal
Long Term Allowance.
http://www.statistik.at/web_en/statistics/social_statistics/
social_benefits_at_federal_level/federal_long_term_care_
allowance/index.html
(447) Information provided by the Center for Women Studies and
Policies for the elaboration of the Thematic Report 2008.
(448) Sotsialaministeeriumi (2008), Sotsiaalvaldkonna arengud 2000–06,
Toimetised No 2/2008, Tallinn.
(449) The Personalised autonomy allowance (APA Allocation
personnalisée d’autonomie) is addressed to persons aged 60 and
more, living at home or in an institution, who are experimenting
a loss of autonomy. This allowance is personalised, according to
the beneficiaries’ needs (degree of autonomy, requested aid and
services) and income (but it is not means tested). It is provided
with an Aid plan (Plan d’aide): for beneficiaries living at home,
a medico-social team visit the patients and assesses their needs
and necessary aids to allow them to stay at home (the APA
depends on the needs and the resources of the patient); for
beneficiaries in an institution, the APA helps beneficiaries to pay
for the ‘dependency tariff’ calculated according to the degree of
autonomy/dependency.
(450) Espagnol, P., Lo, S.-H., Debout, C. (2008), ‘allocation personnalisée
d’autonomie et la prestation de compensation du handicap au
30 juin 2008’, Etudes et résultats, Drees, No 666, October.
117
ACCESS TO HEALTHCARE AND LONG-TERM CARE: Equal for women and men?
■■
In Latvia there are more women in the long-term
social care centres (on 1 January 2008 there were
4 564 men and 5 716 women). The average age of
women is higher than that of men (in municipal
care the average age of women is 78, for men it
is 68) (451).
■■
In Norway women are in majority of long-term
care users. Among users over 80 years old, 3 out of
4 are women (452).
■■
In Poland, LTC recipients are mostly women,
especially as recipients of nursing care. In 2007,
there were almost 15 000 patients for stationary
care and treatment and women represented 65 %
of the total. The proportion of women in nursing
and care amounted to 71 % of the total (453).
■■
In Sweden, 153 000 elderly persons in ordinary
housing were granted home help services as of 30
June 2008, of which 68 % were women and 32 %
men. In relation to the population aged 65 or older,
the share corresponds approximately to 10 %. In
relation to the population aged 75–94, the share
was bigger among women than among men (454).
Both in the youngest age group (65–74) and the
oldest (95+), the share with home help was similar
for women and men. Almost 149 000 persons were
equipped with safety alarms devices (455), of which
73 % women and 27 % men (456). Of 94 000 persons
65 years and older living permanently in special
forms of housing, 70 % are women and 30 % men.
■■
In the UK LTC is predominantly provided in private
households rather than communal or residential
homes: 95.4 % of British people aged 65 or over live
in private households as opposed to 4.6 % who live
in communal establishments. Women are, however,
(451) Data are collected from Social Service Board Annual Report.
Website: http://www.spp.lv
(452) Helse og omsorgsdepartment (2005), St. Meld. Nr.25
(2005–06), Mestring, muligheter og mening. Framtidas
omsorsutfordringer. Oslo. http://www.regjeringen.no/Rpub/STM/20052006/025/PDFS/
STM200520060025000DDDPDFS.pdf
(453) Główny Urząd Statystyczny [Central Statistical Office] (2008),
Podstawowe dane z zakresu ochrony zdrowia w 2007, Warsaw.
http://www.stat.gov.pl/cps/rde/xbcr/gus/PUBL_WZ_podstaw_
dane_z_zakre_zdr_2007r..pdf
(454) Statistiska Centralbyrån — SCB (2009) Statistisk årsbok 2008.
Stockholm, p. 426.
(455) Socialstyrelsen (2009) Äldre — vård och omsorg den 30 juni
2008, Kommunala insatser enligt socialtjänstlagen samt hälsooch sjukvårdslagen, Stockholm.
(456) The aim of municipal care provision is to ensure that older people
and those with disabilities are able to live normal, independent
lives. This includes living in their homes for as long as possible.
They can have access to support of various kinds, such as meals
delivered at home, help with cleaning and shopping, safety alarms
devices and transportation service. Safety alarms devices are useful
to call for help in case the patient is in a dangerous situation.
118
twice as likely as men to live in a communal
establishment (5.9 % against 2.8 %) (457).
3.3.Gender barriers to access LTC
All European Member States are committed to
ensuring universal access to LTC for their citizens. As the
population grows older, the challenges to achieve this
goal depend more and more on national health and
social policies. Therefore, one’s universal right does not
necessarily mean universal service. All over European
states, access to LTC might be restricted by many kinds
of barriers. These include lack of insurance coverage,
lack of coverage/provision of certain types of care,
high individual financial care costs and geographical
disparities in supply. They also include lengthy waiting
lists for certain treatments or in certain areas of a given
country, lack of knowledge or information and complex
administrative procedures (458).
Moreover, some barriers may particularly affect women (or
men) in a given country for demographic, socioeconomic,
cultural or financial reasons. Gender is a cross-cutting
issue with reference to barriers to access LTC.
3.3.1. Gender and financial barriers
High private costs which are seemingly higher than
in healthcare impose a major financial burden on LTC
users and their relatives and act a barrier to access,
particularly for low-income groups (459).
Many countries have a system of co-payments to
access LTC (for example Cyprus, Ireland and Estonia) or
voluntary/private complementary insurance. Generally
speaking, financial barriers include both restrictions
depending on co-payment for low-income groups and
differences in access observed for population groups not
yet fully covered by social insurance schemes. Policies
to reduce the individual direct costs of care include:
co-payment exemptions and co-payments based on
income; extra financial aid/welfare benefits granted
to the elderly dependant, disabled and chronically ill;
state coverage of social long-term care for low-income
households within a social assistance framework;
nationwide standardisation of co-payments; and state
subsidies to use private services (460).
(457) Del Bono, E., Sala, E., Hancock, R., Gunnell, C., and Parisi, L., (2007), Gender,
older people and social exclusion, A gendered review and secondary
analysis of the data, ISER Working Paper 2007–13, Colchester.
(458) Council of the European Union (2008), Joint Report on Social
Protection and Social Inclusion, Directorate-General for
Employment, Social Policy, Health and Consumer Affairs, Brussels.
(459) OECD (2009), The Long-Term Care workforce: overview and
strategies to adapt supply to a growing demand, Paris.
(460) Council of the European Union (2008), Joint Report on social
protection and social inclusion, Directorate-General for
Employment, Social Policy, Health and Consumer Affairs, Brussels.
3. Gender differences in access to long-term care (LTC)
Nevertheless, in some countries financial barriers
remain an important issue.
■■
In Bulgaria LTC services are usually provided by close
relatives at home. In some cases, Bulgarian citizens
pay for them in cash (out-of-pocket) to professional
caregivers (retired nurses, rehabilitators, doctors),
which is very expensive by Bulgarian standards,
above all because there is no specific insurance.
■■
Spanish citizens do not have sufficient economic
support. Among the different economic benefits
gathered in the DCL (Dependant Care Law), the
payments aimed at financing market services have
proved to be insufficient to cover full costs. This
could imply certain unwanted effects regarding
the proliferation (or preservation) of an informal
market, which employs a vast majority of women
under deficient labour conditions.
Moreover, financial barriers may be experienced more
by women than by men because the average income
of older women is much lower than that of older men,
and the at-risk-of-poverty rate of older women is higher
than that of older men, so many women may find their
income insufficient for covering co-payments, private
health costs and costs of voluntary insurance.
■■
■■
In Belgium an analysis of contacts with home-based
services shows that women call on these services
more frequently than men and the reliance on
such services increases with age. Any initiative to
reduce the costs of these services will therefore be
an improvement for women, considering that they
rely more on such services and that they generally
have lower incomes than men.
In France, difficulties in access to long-term care still
exist for individuals belonging to a poor or modest
household. In particular, beneficiaries of the oldage minimum income are over the income ceiling
and consequently cannot benefit from free access
to the Complementary Universal Health Coverage
(CMUC), however, they may experience difficulties
in affording private complementary coverage.
Women aged 60 and over are overrepresented in
the beneficiaries of the old-age minimum income,
so they may experience more difficulties than men
in the same age bracket.
■■
According to a recent study (461), elderly Greeks pay
7.5 % of their annual income for health services. The
consequence of this high expenditure for healthcare
is that the elderly have to cut down their expenses.
Additionally, Greece has a very high proportion of
elderly people who spend between 15 % and 25 %
of their income for private health services. This
happens above all with people living on a lower
income.
■■
In Norway women are the great majority among
the elderly receiving minimum level pensions.
Recent statistics show that while only 10 % of men
received minimum level pensions, 48 % of women
pensioners received the lowest pensions (462). At
the same time, statistics show that more men
receive treatment at hospitals, while more women
use municipal care services. To ensure similar
medical treatment for elderly women and men, the
government ensures that a gender perspective on
treatment be integrated in the activity of hospitals.
3.3.2. Gender and geographical barriers
LTC (both social and health) services are typically the
responsibility of local authorities or regions. This causes
substantial differences in service provision among
regions, within urban and rural areas or within cities (463).
It often results in different waiting times according to
different areas of a given country.
In some countries, such as Denmark, Hungary, Slovenia
and Bulgaria, geographical differences play a crucial
role in accessibility, because social institutions are
not evenly spread in the country and this affects the
efficiency of LTC. Furthermore, in some countries, such
as Slovenia, there are also significant regional financial
differences in the payment for these services. Namely,
some of the regions or municipalities co-finance the cost
of these services and some municipalities even offer
them for free, while others do not. Elderly women and
men living in regions with low service coverage and/
or with higher service costs therefore face significant
barriers in accessing LTC.
(461) Mergoupis, T. (2003), Income and Health Services in Greece , in
Venieris, D., Papatheodorou, C., Social Policy in Greece, Athens.
(462) Helse og omsorgsdepartementet, Nasjonal Strategi for
spesialisthelsetjenester for eldre 2008–12.
h t t p : / / w w w. r e g j e r i n g e n . n o / u p l o a d / H O D / Ve d l e g g /
Spesialisthelsetjenestestrategi%20for%20eldre.pdf
(463) Council of the European Union (2008), Joint Report on Social
Protection and Social Inclusion, Directorate-General for
Employment, Social Policy, Health and Consumer Affairs, Brussels.
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ACCESS TO HEALTHCARE AND LONG-TERM CARE: Equal for women and men?
In Romania, Greece and Portugal, geographical barriers
have led to a concentration of LTC services in the urban
centres to the detriment of rural areas. For example, in
Greece there is a special LTC programme, called ‘Help
at home’. It is an example of geographical disparity
because it is not provided in every municipality.
Geographical barriers remain an important issue in
other European countries as well: for example in Spain,
where geographical and physical barriers are not
addressed evenly, especially in depopulated areas. In
many cases, there are also unused day-care centres in
rural areas, due to the lack of transport infrastructures.
The main issue in these areas is not the lack of places,
but difficulty in reaching the institutions. Geographical
barriers have a gender dimension: as women are
more frequent users, they have to travel more often,
in addition to the fact that they tend to rely more on
public transport or on someone to take them.
3.3.3. Gender and bureaucratic and
administrative barriers
LTC services are provided through the coordination of
different care levels and different administrative levels
(national, regional and local levels of governments).
This fragmented system may reduce accessibility to LTC
services because dependant and elderly patients have
tailored multiple needs, due to their social, health and
economic conditions. In addition, their needs may only
be satisfied by a combination of different institutions,
depending on different levels of government or different
departments of government. For example, in Spain’s LTC
system there is a lack of coordination between regional
and local administrations, which may be particularly
burdensome for users, who due to their advanced age or
disability are not always capable of fully understanding
the process and the rights they are entitled to.
A typical example of limited accessibility caused
by bureaucratic/administrative barriers is hospital
discharge, which ought to be followed up by specific
home-care provisions. In order to ease this transition,
Germany has created a ‘case manager’ who deals with
‘transfer care’ from hospital to a home care setting for
people entitled to it.
3.3.4. Gender and cultural barriers
Cultural barriers in accessing LTC services are linked
to social status, because poorly educated people have
more difficulty in accessing services. Additionally,
some ethnic groups don’t accept care provision for
socioeconomic reasons, linked to their cultural heritage.
This is the case of the Roma in some countries such as
the Netherlands and Portugal, who do not accept the
LTC system for cultural reasons: as described in the
EGGSI Synthesis Report of 2008 on ethnic minority and
Roma women in Europe, ‘Traditionally, Roma family ties
are strong and institutionalisation can be considered
an extreme alternative for older family members.
Normally, Roma women are first expected to care
for other dependant family members in addition to
other work related to domestic responsibilities. Elderly
people, men and women alike, enjoy a high social
status in Roma communities. This is one of the reasons
why elderly people are accustomed to remaining with
the family in old age and do not apply for long-term
care services, even in the cases where these services are
accessible/affordable’ (464). In addition, in Austria there
are bureaucratic barriers affecting elderly migrants
in particular, because to be entitled to receive some
benefits, it is necessary that recipients have worked for
a few years in that country.
Women are overexposed to cultural barriers, both as
carers and as persons in need of care: this especially
affects immigrant and ethnic minority women. For
them, in some countries such as the Netherlands,
cultural barriers seem to make access to long-term care
more difficult than for the general public. A study in
Austria on age and migration in the Vienna area showed
that female migrants feel very worried about their old
age (465). Moreover, in Malta, the language barrier is
often a hindrance to accessing health information
and services among migrant women with long-term
illnesses. Women with refugee status, humanitarian
protection, and rejected asylum seekers living in Malta
have access to free medical care in state hospitals and
state healthcare centres, however, data drawn from
the 2005 Malta Census suggest there are more women
than men suffering from long-term illnesses and/or
health conditions (466).
(464) Corsi, M., Crepaldi, C., Samek Lodovici, M., Boccagni, P.,
Vasilescu, C. (2008), Ethnic minority and Roma women in
Europe: A case for gender equality? — report prepared by the
Network of experts in gender equality, social inclusion and
health- and long-term care (EGGSI network) for the European
Commission, Directorate-General for Employment, Social
Affairs and Equal Opportunities. http://ec.europa.eu/social/BlobServlet?docId=2481&langId=en.
(465) Kienzl-Plochberger, Reinprecht, C. (2005), MigrantInnen im
Gesundheits- und Sozialbereich, Vienna.
(466) Elaborations on Malta Census 2005, National Statistics Office, Malta.
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3. Gender differences in access to long-term care (LTC)
Box 3‑3 — Main barriers accessing LTC in European countries
Austria
Romania
For elderly migrants there are some structural barriers
in accessing available institutions and entitlements
to specific allowances. First, to be entitled to old-age
pensions, one has to have worked for 15 years within the
last 30 years in Austria. Many migrants reach this minimum
by adding their working experiences abroad, however
those years are not always accepted. The same problems
regard the entitlement to the federal care allowance which
is dependent on pension payments and on continuous
residence in Austria. If migrants or refugees cannot fulfil
the requirements for the federal care allowance, they can
apply for provincial care allowance.
Health and long-term care in Romania suffer from
regional disparities, particularly from uneven coverage of
medical services and healthcare workers. Differences are
particularly marked between rural and urban areas. There
are also issues of inadequate medical equipment and a
shortage of medical staff in many rural areas. It may be
assumed that as women tend to live longer and as the
number of women surpasses the number of men, more
women compared to men are affected by difficulties in
accessing long-term care facilities.
Denmark
Generally speaking, no barriers to LTC exist in the Danish
model as the main part is based upon a local evaluation
of the needs in order to get support. Depending on the
municipality, there can be waiting lists for a place in a
hospice, whereas support in the private homes has no
waiting time.
The main difference between men and women is that
women often have to take care of men with more limited
support and, when they themselves are in need of care,
nobody might be available to help them.
Estonia
There are still old people who are not registered with a
family doctor or people that have no identity documents
(i.e. many Roma, homeless), which denies them access
to social health insurance or to any type of healthcare
(except for emergency treatment). Reduced availability
of services and lack of volunteer services deprive many
elderly people that live on their own of the support they
need for housework (cleaning, getting food supplies).
Many people are excluded from health or LTC because of
the very real perception of having to pay additional costs
in order to receive proper attention, or in many cases,
people will postpone their medical care until it becomes
an emergency.
Slovenia
The main problems with LTC are the lack of provision and high
costs of services. For instance, the cost of a care home (i.e. longterm care in institution) varies according to the institution.
A study of disabled persons carried out in 2007 showed
that 85 % of them saw a need for rehabilitation services,
but only 47 % of them received it (467). The main obstacle in
receiving these services is the lack of information (54 %),
economic reasons (45 %), and transport problems (41 %).
The need for physiotherapy is especially great.
The main barriers are bureaucratic. The fact that the
existing services and income are not linked to an even
system, in addition to the fact that, in practice, there is a
lack of coordination among the institutes which provide
these services, hinders access to services and reduces their
quality. It is also acknowledged that waiting periods are
relatively long. Elderly women and men living in regions
with low service coverage and/or with higher service
costs therefore face significant barriers in accessing longterm care.
Italy
Spain
There are several regional disparities in service provision.
According to Istat, three quarters of beneficiaries of
residential LTC live in the northern regions. Geographical
barriers exist with regard to public home care, because
the financial resources allocated vary among regions and
municipalities. Moreover, the amount of users’ co-payments
varies across regions and cities and the average income
varies greatly according to region. Additionally, women’s
average old-age pension is lower than men’s.
The main barriers can be summarised as follows:
lack of procedural homogeneity among different
administrations; excessive delay in the provision of
services; complexity of the process; individualised
programmes limited by inadequate resources; lack of
agreement between regional and local administrations;
insufficient economic support; geographical barriers.
Portugal
Most of Sweden’s local authorities have a small number
of elderly people belonging to the national minorities
or of foreign background. However, the metropolitan
regions, and regions bordering neighbouring countries,
have a large proportion. The number of different ethnic
groups in the elderly population also varies according
to different areas. This, together with the fact that the
health and social service system for the elderly in Sweden
is operated and funded by local governing bodies, has
led to different strategies to meet their needs and to
differences among the municipalities in terms of service
coverage and availability. Some local authorities offer
There are three main barriers for access to long-term care:
(i) the low supply of services; (ii) lack of technical expertise
and management of existing difficulties, (iii) cultural
issues. LTC institutions are located mainly in urban areas,
which imply that non-autonomous elderly people living
in rural areas might have barriers to accessing LTC. The
other difficulty is the lack of human resources prepared to
provide assistance.
(467) Masso,M.(2007),Puuetegainimesteuuring,Sotsiaalministeerium,
Viide täpsustada.
Sweden
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ACCESS TO HEALTHCARE AND LONG-TERM CARE: Equal for women and men?
special housing, home help and/or day activities specially
intended for or adapted to elderly people of a different
ethnicity. Other local authorities have staff from different
ethnic backgrounds in their units, matched with users
of the same background. Family-care providers are also
common among these groups.
United Kingdom
There are criticisms that the current funding system for
formal care is unsustainable, unfair and unclear (468).
According to Collins: it is unsustainable because without
reforms, older people — even those on modest incomes
— will have to pay more from their own funds; it is unfair
because there are inconsistencies regarding who pays
what; and it is unclear because there is often confusion
regarding who is responsible for payment — entitlements
vary between local authority areas (469). Even in Scotland,
where there is more universal provision, perceptions of
(468) Collins, S. (2009), Options for Care Funding: What could be
done now?, Joseph Rowntree Foundation. http://www.jrf.org.uk
(469) Collins, S. (2009), Options for Care Funding: What could be
done now?, Joseph Rowntree Foundation. p. 2. http://www.jrf.org.uk
inconsistencies across local authorities exist regarding
what care is provided and who pays for what (470).
Access to informal care among those over 65 varies
greatly. According to Del Bono et al. (471), the differences
are not so much dependent on gender but on age, car
ownership and marital status. Older men are more likely
to be married than older women. Although men over the
age of 65 carry out more caring activities than younger
men, as women live longer than men they are less likely
to be able to rely on care from a spouse and will be more
likely to have to resort to public care facilities. More men
than women have access to a car and so women are more
dependent on public services.
Source: EGGSI network national reports 2009.
(470) Bell, D., Bowes, A. (2006), Informing Change: Lessons from
the funding of long-term care in Scotland, Joseph Rowntree
Foundation. http://www.jrf.org.uk
(471) Del Bono, E., Sala, E., Hancock, R., Gunnell, C., Parisi, L., (2007), Gender,
older people and social exclusion, A gendered review and secondary
analysis of the data, ISER Working Paper 2007–13, Colchester.
3.4.Programmes aimed at
overcoming barriers to LTC
aim of the programme is to identify people with
specific financial problems and people who do
not make use of all potential financial support
mechanisms. The aim is to help them fulfil the
necessary requirements for receiving extra
financial support. The target population of this
programme includes not only old people but also
children, single parent families, young people,
people with chronic diseases, ethnic minorities,
and people with disabilities. This programme is
not specifically oriented to healthcare access, but
the overall financial problems of specific target
groups might influence also financial access to
healthcare.
Some examples of provisions to overcome barriers to
accessing LTC can be found all over Europe.
The kind of programmes offered can be summarised as
follows:
a. supporting low income and most disadvantaged
groups;
b. improving the quality of care;
c. supporting relatives.
■■
In the UK there is a programme, started in 2002,
called ‘Free Personal Care’. It is implemented only in
Scotland. It is aimed at offering free personal care in
care homes and at home. The programme is a good
practice to overcome financial gender barriers
thanks to a substantial reduction in care home fees
for elderly people (especially women).
■■
In Austria there is a local programme (in Vienna),
specifically aimed at overcoming cultural barriers,
called ‘Integration of elderly migrants into social
centres for elderly people’. The programme is aimed
at establishing a counselling, information and
socialising centre for elderly people. Specifically,
elderly migrants are the target of this programme.
The counselling centre provides non-bureaucratic
counselling for elderly people on social issues,
financial and legal questions following illness and
need for LTC.
The gender impact of these programmes may be both
direct and indirect.
Programmes supporting low income and
most disadvantaged groups
Almost all European countries, with the exception
of Italy and Greece, have a basic income scheme
covering also old people in need, helping them to
sustain the economic burden of LTC. Some countries
have introduced specific programmes to overcome
barriers to access LTC for most disadvantaged groups
(specifically low income groups and cultural minorities).
Here are some interesting examples:
■■
122
In the Netherlands there is a local programme,
called ‘Prevention Information Team Eindhoven’,
promoted by the municipality of Eindhoven. The
3. Gender differences in access to long-term care (LTC)
■■
In Romania there is a programme called ‘Sociomedical assistance for disadvantaged groups’. The
key point of the programme is the diversification of
services at the local community level by developing
social and medico-social assistance for women
and men belonging to disadvantaged groups. The
programme aims at the development of a network
of medico-social services in two counties (Alba and
Mures) for elderly people (both women and men)
living on their own with no family or community
support, who have difficulty in accessing existing
social and medical services.
development, research and planning, raising skills and
knowledge, improving collaboration between health
professionals, partnerships with families and local
communities. The focus is on women as private and
professional carers for the elderly. The plan clearly
identifies women as the majority among caregivers,
both professional and private.
■■
In Finland there is a local programme called ‘Act on
assessment of service needs for people over 80 (2006)
and over 75 (2009)’. The objective of the programme
is to make a broad assessment of the need for social
and health services. The programme does not have
a specific gender orientation, but most people aged
75 or over are women, and most of them live alone.
Moreover the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health
(MSAH) and the Association of Finnish Local and
Regional Authorities issued a recommendation on
good practice in LTC (National framework for highquality services for older people) in 2008 (472). The
focus of the framework is to reform the content of
home care and 24-hour care services with new ideas.
The framework also presents examples of good
practices from the field regarding the coordination
of health and social care issues at the local level, such
as ‘service selection houses for elderly people’ and
‘new concepts for home care’ developed by NGOs.
■■
In Italy there is a programme, called ‘Nonne-Care’. It is
a regional programme promoted by the Municipality
of Naples, the Campania Region, Campania Local
Health Units and other semi-public bodies. The
objective is to enhance the possibility to meet new
assistance and healthcare needs in order to keep
elderly women at home instead of in residential
public care facilities, thanks to telephone and teleassistance. The target group of the programme are
elderly women (over 70 years old) who live alone
and suffer from specific pathologies.
Programmes aimed at the improvement of
the quality of care
Improving the quality of care is a crucial point for the
LTC system within European states, so some countries
have introduced programmes aimed at improving the
professional skills of workers in LTC provision.
■■
In Germany, the Federal Ministry for Family Affairs
has promoted the campaign ‘Modern care for
the elderly’ to promote the occupation field of
professional care. In particular, the initiative is aimed
at improving public awareness and at promoting a
high level of training for elderly caregivers.
■■
In Norway there is a national programme called
‘Care plan 2015’. The aim of the plan is to address the
main future challenges within elderly care in a longterm perspective. In particular, the plan is focused
on research and development, increased quality of
care, increasing qualification among workers within
elderly care, specialised healthcare for the elderly
and increased emphasis on volunteers and relatives
as carers. The care plan is important from a gender
perspective, as women are in the majority among
carers and those who are cared for. This gender
perspective is clearly emphasised in the plan.
■■
Another programme promoted in Norway is the
‘National strategy for specialised healthcare for the
elderly 2008–12’. The main aims of the strategy are
to strengthen elderly people’s access to specialised
healthcare, create cooperation with primary
healthcare, preventive care and emphasise research
and development within the area of the elderly
and of their needs for specialised healthcare. The
programme emphasises equal treatment within
specialised healthcare, which is important as elderly
women use it less than elderly men, despite the fact
that women are in the majority among the elderly.
■■
The Dementia plan 2008–12, promoted in Norway,
aims at increasing the knowledge, collaboration and
quality of the care of dementia patients. In particular,
the programme is meant to increase the quality of care,
Support programmes to the relatives
LTC provision by informal carers plays a crucial role, so
some countries have introduced programmes aimed at
supporting those who provide care to people in need
in their household.
■■
In Sweden a local programme (implemented by
the Municipality of Jönköping) called ‘Support in
partnership 2006’ helps relatives to care, making life
easier for the carers and the cared for and to receive
good quality help and support (473). The programme
aims at planning, following up and evaluating the
individual support of relatives. The COAT (carers
(472) Ministry of Social Affairs and Health — MSAH (2008), National
framework for high-quality services for older people, Ministry of
Social Affairs and Health’s publications, Helsinki.
(473) Socialstyrelsen (2005), Planeringsinstrument för anhörigstöd.
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■■
■■
outcome agreement tool) does interviews, keeps in
contact and relieves the relatives. The programme is
addressed to relatives who take care of the elderly,
mostly women, and therefore has very relevant
indirect gender effects. The programme is important
as it recognises the carers’ needs and the important
work they do.
is provided — a distinction has been made between
institutional care and care at home. Institutions include
nursing homes, residential care homes and old-age
homes where there is the permanent presence of
care assistants. Care at home may be provided by care
professionals or by informal care (as it often happens in
countries characterised by family care model).
In Cyprus the national programme ‘Expansion of
and improvement of care services for children, the
elderly, disabled persons and other dependants’,
implemented period 2005–08 by the Social Welfare
Services, is aimed at improving and expanding social
care services at the local level, in order to enable
women to cope with the care needs of children, the
elderly, disabled persons and other dependants.
The ultimate aim is to encourage their integration in
the labour market as economically active members.
The largest portion of these actions concerns the
financing of social-care structures which operate
under the responsibility of voluntary organisations
and local authorities. Within this framework,
financing was approved for 31 programmes for the
pilot phase of the programme, implemented by Local
Authorities and Non-Governmental Organisations all
over Cyprus. It does not target women as receivers
of care specifically, but as carers, and thus can have a
positive impact on women as carers (474).
With reference to service beneficiaries, women are
more often institutionalised than men.
In Finland there is a programme called ‘Voimapolku’
(Path to empowerment), aiming at promoting an
operational model for informal carers who plan to
return to or access the labour market for the first
time, in particular finding methods and practices to
support the empowerment process of carers.
3.5.Overall conclusions about
gender barriers to access LTC
Different institutional and organisational LTC settings
exist throughout European countries. Service provision
can be described on the basis of two variables: the
typology of care providers and the place where care is
provided. In the first case the differentiation is between
formal and informal care. Formal care is provided in
most of the cases by municipalities for the social support
and/or by local healthcare services for the health
component. In those countries where public service
coverage is less developed, informal care plays a crucial
role in service provision. This is the case in particular in
southern European countries such as Greece and Italy.
With reference to the second variable — where the care
(474) Ministry of Labour and Social Insurance (2008), National
Strategy reports on Social protection and social inclusion
2008–10, Social Welfare Services. http://ec.europa.eu/employment_social/spsi/docs/social_
inclusion/2008/nap/cyprus_en.pdf
124
One of the main elements to be considered while
regarding LTC in a gender perspective is the role played by
women in informal care: women are the majority among
informal care providers (according to the WHO, women
represent two thirds of informal caregivers) and so the
programmes aimed at supporting those who provide
homecare are very relevant from a gender perspective.
Women are also the majority among LTC recipients for
biological and socio-demographic reasons, but the
EGGSI national reports have shown that they have to
face additional barriers to access with respect to men.
Even in those countries where the system is particularly
evolved and where there are no institutional barriers
in accessing services, cultural barriers play a relevant
role, in particular in countries with a high level of
immigration or a large presence of Roma communities.
In these cases, specific difficulties have been reported
in relation to cultural norms, habits and traditions
connected with the role of women in the community.
This is particularly the case of countries such as
Austria, Germany, France and the Netherlands, where
there are large communities of cultural minorities. In
eastern countries, such as Bulgaria and Estonia, the
most consistent barriers reported are, on the contrary,
bureaucratic and administrative.
Access to LTC is also affected by financial barriers for
low-income groups, which often includes elderly
women, because their average income is lower than
men’s. In many countries, forms of co-payment may
in particular lead to gender barriers due to the weaker
economic position of women.
LTC systems in Southern countries are mainly
affected by geographical barriers, as it happens in
Italy, Spain, Portugal and Greece. These countries
are characterised by disparities in service provisions
between different regions and cities. For example,
in Italy in terms of the extent of the provisions and
expenditure for citizens, the differences between
the northern and the southern regions play a crucial
role. In Spain geographical barriers are mainly due to
lack of public transport. With regard to Portugal and
Greece, the main issue for geographical barriers is the
backwardness of rural areas. In these countries the
family care model is dominant.
4. Conclusions
While healthcare systems have contributed to
significant improvements in health in Europe, access to
healthcare remains uneven across countries and social
groups, according to socioeconomic status, place of
residence, ethnic group, and gender.
Gender plays a specific role both in the incidence and
prevalence of specific pathologies and also in their
treatment and impact in terms of well-being and
recovery. This is due to the interrelation between sexrelated biological differences and socioeconomic and
cultural factors which affect the behaviour of women
and men and access to services.
The report has highlighted the main differences in the
health status and health-relevant behaviours of women
and men in European countries, in the accessibility of
existing healthcare and long-term care services and the
main barriers to accessing these services for women
and men.
Generally, women are more aware of their health status
and make greater use of healthcare services then men
due to several reasons, such as their reproductive role,
their role as caregivers for dependants (children, the
elderly, the disabled), their higher share among the older
population and also gender stereotypes, according
to which men usually do not consider it normal to
complain about their health and visit physicians.
Gender differences in healthcare
In some European countries (for example: Austria,
Bulgaria, Germany, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Norway, Spain,
the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, Slovenia), there
is increasing awareness of the need to acknowledge
gender differences in access to healthcare among
governmental institutions, universities, and especially
NGOs, which have traditionally been very active in
providing specialist services to women, ethnic minorities
and other disadvantaged groups. Gender-sensitive
strategies have recently been introduced within
healthcare and medical research, research centres and
research institutes with special knowledge regarding
women and health have been created, observatories
on women’s health have been set up to support the
development of sex-disaggregated data and gendered
medical research. In addition, some countries have
implemented specific training programmes aimed at
general practitioners and healthcare providers, to raise
their awareness of the importance of gender-specific
treatment. Specific programmes for the treatment of
disadvantaged women, such as homeless women,
immigrant women, disabled women and single
mothers, have also been carried out.
The comparative analysis presented in this report,
however, has shown that in most countries, besides
reproductive care, there are still few gendered
healthcare strategies and services.
Programmes promoting healthy behaviour are in
some cases gender oriented, targeted at either
women or men. The promotion of breastfeeding is
the most widespread promotion programme across
Europe. Other programmes are aimed at reducing
the consumption of alcohol and smoking, promoting
diet and physical activity, as well as promoting mental
health and occupational health. Health promotion
programmes and campaigns specifically targeted at
more vulnerable groups also exist.
On the other hand, health prevention programmes
are usually mainly targeted at women. Screening
programmes are important preventive measures, since
many diseases can be avoided through early detection.
The most important and widespread gendered
prevention programmes implemented in Europe are
breast and cervical cancer screenings. Across Europe,
many prevention programmes address maternity:
prenatal tests, support for mothers with newborn
children and family development, support for groups
of children and mothers with special needs. Other
widespread prevention programmes across Europe
concern sexual and reproductive health. On the other
hand specific masculine pathologies, where prevention
could be useful (such as prostate or testicular cancer)
are less addressed by prevention programmes, even
if in some countries there is an increasing attention to
these issues.
The physical, psychological and social barriers that
prevent many women from making healthy decisions
are often not visible or addressed by healthcare
treatment programmes and regulations. For example,
there is usually little recognition of gender specificities
in the treatment of some pathologies such as heart
diseases, sexually transmitted diseases, mental
disorders, or work-related illnesses, and of the longterm consequences on women’s health of violence
and abuse. In many cases, the knowledge utilised is
based on studies conducted on men, which results
in treatment that may, in some cases, not address the
needs of women. For example, there is still too little
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ACCESS TO HEALTHCARE AND LONG-TERM CARE: Equal for women and men?
knowledge about the female heart and since women
often present different symptoms than men, there
is a higher incidence of unrecognised myocardial
infarction; and in addition, women treated with
‘male-based’ treatment may not respond in the same
ways as men. Regulations regarding health and safety
in the workplace usually do not cover housework
and serious domestic accidents are not regularly
recorded and are thus left out of the statistics. Also,
the treatment of some diseases related to gendered
behaviours, such as alcohol addiction and alcoholrelated diseases, which are predominantly —
although not exclusively — a male problem, do not
consider gender differences sufficiently.
While some programmes address these issues, this is
still an underdeveloped area for implementing gender
equality principles.
It has also been noticed that sometimes women and
men are treated differently, not because their specific
needs are recognised, but because of prejudiced and
stereotyped attitudes by health practitioners. For
example, therapeutic support aimed at returning to
work after work accidents is more frequent among
men than women, also due to the attitudes of
occupational health physicians and employers, who
feel that rehabilitation is more important for men than
for women.
Even if universal or nearly universal rights to care are
basic principles in most Member States and most
of the European population is covered by public
health insurance, these basic principles do not always
translate into equal access to and use of healthcare.
Residency, socioeconomic and geographical factors
can affect the accessibility to healthcare for specific
groups. These include the lack of insurance coverage
(affecting those without residency or citizenship, the
long-term unemployed and the homeless in countries
based on social security contribution systems), the
direct financial costs of care (affecting low income
groups), the lack of mobility (affecting disabled
and old persons), the lack of language competence
(affecting migrants and ethnic minorities), the lack of
access to information (affecting the low educated and
migrants/ethnic minorities), time constraints (affecting
single mothers) or lack of services for specific groups.
In all of these factors there are specific gender issues
to consider.
Financial barriers are particularly relevant for low
income groups and women. Income inequalities are
especially related to the lack of insurance coverage,
the cost of certain (specialised) types of care (such as
dental, ophthalmic and aural care) which are often not
covered by public insurance systems, the incidence of
private insurance systems and of out-of-pocket costs
126
and the persistence of informal payments in many
eastern (such as Slovakia, Romania, Bulgaria, Hungary,
Poland, Lithuania, Latvia) and southern European (such
as Italy and Greece) countries.
The growing role of private health insurance and
out-of-pocket payments may also increase gender
inequalities, as men are more likely to be covered by
private insurance than women, yet women are higher
consumers of healthcare services and medicines.
Women usually have a lower income and do not benefit
from the same kind of firm-based private insurance
coverage as men do. They present lower employment
rates in the regular economy (many women are either
inactive or work at home or in the informal sector) and,
when employed, they are more likely to be employed
in the public sector and in small firms (which are not
likely to provide supplementary private insurance
schemes) with part-time and/or temporary contracts in
low paying jobs. In addition, private insurance schemes
are less attractive to women since they often consider
age and gender-specific risks in defining contributions.
Women from ethnic minorities and poor households
may be especially penalised by the privatisation of
health services and the increase in out-of-pocket
spending on healthcare.
Among European countries, financial barriers to
access appear to be particularly relevant in the Baltic
countries (especially in Latvia), Greece, Cyprus, Bulgaria
and Romania, where the incidence of cost sharing is
particularly relevant. In the Baltic countries, Poland,
Sweden, Hungary and Germany, women’s perceptions
of unmet needs due to problems of access are higher
than the EU-25 average.
Geographical variations in coverage and provision
are another relevant barrier to healthcare access. The
distance from hospitals and healthcare centres and
the lack of accessible transportation particularly affect
women living in rural or mountainous areas, disabled
women and older women, as they are less autonomous
concerning mobility than men (they drive cars less
frequently then men), and live more years in old age
and ill-health.
The distinct roles and behaviours of men and women in
a given culture, resulting from gender norms and values,
give rise to gender differences and inequalities in access
to healthcare as well as in risk behaviours and in health
status. Cultural barriers can be expressed in terms of
prejudices and lack of knowledge among healthcare
professionals concerning gender specificities in needs
and types of care to be provided. Language barriers, as
well as traditions and cultural practices also play a role,
as certain groups of immigrant women and women
of ethnic origin have more difficult access to health
facilities and information on sexual health.
4. Conclusions
On the other hand, men also have to face stereotypes
in accessing healthcare and prevention programmes.
Osteoporosis, for instance, is perceived as a female
disease, and it might be less obvious that men should be
treated for osteoporosis as well. Education and health
prevention programmes are also targeted mostly at
women and only occasionally address men. The report
shows that it is important to take into consideration a
variety of elements while analysing cultural barriers in
accessing healthcare. These are prejudices and gender
stereotypes, social status and level of education, cultural
differences inherent in ethnicity and migration issues
(that involve not only language skills but also traditions
and norms of hygiene), religious practices, prejudices
concerning sexual orientation, and working culture.
Gender differences in long-term care
There are two key issues to be considered from a
gender perspective when discussing access to longterm care. First of all the role of women as caregivers,
that is usually in unpaid informal care. Being relatives,
friends or volunteers they do not receive any form of
compensation for their engagement, while as informal
caregivers they receive cash benefits/allowance in
many cases without any form of employment contract.
Secondly the increasing use of LTC by women:
because of their longer lifespan, women are the main
LTC beneficiaries, both in kind and in cash. Women’s
reliance on formal care is linked to the fact that they
often have no care alternatives in their household, as
generally speaking, elderly women are more likely to
live alone than men. Elderly women are also likely to be
more negatively affected than men by the forms of copayment for access to LTC which have been introduced
in many countries, because their average income is
lower than men’s.
Examples of provisions to overcome barriers to
accessing LTC can be found across Member States
and they have important gender impacts. Interesting
examples which may positively affect women both as
LTC users and providers have been found for example in
the Netherlands, where specific measures support the
lowest income groups, where women are the majority;
in Germany, Norway, and Romania, where there are
measures improving the quality of care; in Sweden
and Finland, where measures supporting informal care
providers, especially relatives, have been implemented.
Addressing gender inequalities in access to
healthcare and long-term care
The comparative analysis presented in this report has
highlighted some important issues which have to be
addressed in order to reduce gender inequalities in
access to healthcare and long-term care and provide
cost-effective and high quality care.
The most important is the need to adopt a gender
perspective in healthcare policies, considering the
biological, economic, social and cultural factors which
affect the health condition of women and men and
their access to healthcare. A gender mainstreaming
approach to healthcare policies, addressing genderspecific risk factors in medical research, service delivery
(considering promotion, prevention and treatment
policies) and the design of financing systems enhances
the effectiveness of the care provided for women and
men and reduce inequalities in access, as shown in
some of the good practices presented in the report.
Gender-based health research increases knowledge
regarding the complex ways in which biological,
social, cultural and environmental factors interact to
affect the health of women and men. Gender-based
medical research also improves the attention of health
practitioners to gender differences and supports the
provision of gender-differentiated treatment when
necessary. For example, it is important that research in
cardiovascular diseases considers gender differences in
morbidity and mortality and in reaction to treatment;
occupational health and safety research and practices
should take gender-specific factors into account, such
as the different health risks that women and men are
exposed to, due to occupational gender segregation
and the health risks resulting from precarious
employment, domestic work and informal care work
performed by women.
The implementation of gendered health information
systems and analysis tools (such as gender impact
assessment), upgrading quality in data collection
and analysis, is essential to support medical research
and the systematic gender-specific monitoring and
evaluation of healthcare systems.
The promotion of capacity building for gender
sensitivity in healthcare systems and gender-specific
training for healthcare professionals is likely to improve
the attention paid to gender differences in service
delivery and the effectiveness of healthcare services.
Attention to the gender impact of recent trends in health
sector reform, especially when addressing healthcare
financing and delivery, is particularly relevant. The fact
that healthcare reforms increase the incidence of costsharing through private insurance schemes and out-ofpocket payments may adversely affect women more than
men, since women are the majority among healthcare
users and the low income groups. Recent trends in
cost containment are also likely to increase gender and
income inequalities if not adequately addressed: the
limitation in the basic care provisions included within
primary care; the rationalisation of healthcare services
which, in many countries, has reduced the number of
local clinics and services in rural or low-populated areas
127
ACCESS TO HEALTHCARE AND LONG-TERM CARE: Equal for women and men?
and increased patient/staff ratios, may have negative
consequences on women more than on men, as women
are the main healthcare users and providers. These
issues are particularly relevant for long-term care, where
gender plays an even more relevant role, with women
being the main care providers (formal and informal) and
care users.
To conclude, the evidence emerging from this
comparative report underlines the need to adopt
128
a gender mainstreaming approach to healthcare
policies in order to improve their effectiveness. This
is even more relevant as the current financial and
economic crisis may reduce the available resources for
improving the quality and coverage of healthcare and
LTC provisions, with pilot gender-based programmes
risking more from budget cuts. Eastern European
countries, in the process of improving the quality and
extension of their healthcare systems, present such
a risk.
5. Annex – Statistical tables
Table 1 — Consultation of a medical doctor during the past 12 months
of women and men, by education 2004
Total
Pre-primary,
primary education
or first stage of
basic education —
level 0 and 1
Lower secondary
or second stage of
basic education —
level 2
Women
Women
Men
Women
Men
Austria
86.7
87.8
82.1
83.1
Belgium
92.5
84.0
95.7
88.9
Bulgaria
73.8
60.9
77.8
65.8
Cyprus
74.9
56.7
84.8
70.2
Czech Republic
94.6
89.4
92.8
Estonia
78.6
66.1
71.2
Finland
88.4
75.9
Germany
94.5
Greece
72.4
Hungary
Iceland
Upper secondary
education —
level 3
Post-secondary
non-tertiary and
tertiary education —
level 4,5 and 6
Men
Women
Men
Women
Men
:
:
90.4
83.2
92.0
92.2
92.1
82.8
91.0
83.7
91.7
81.9
74.9
62.1
72.1
58.2
71.7
62.4
64.9
45.8
72.1
53.2
71.0
54.3
90.2
96.3
88.5
95.1
88.7
93.8
93.1
62.6
74.8
67.2
79.6
65.0
84.1
70.9
:
:
85.5
78.6
89.6
77.6
89.4
71.2
84.6
92.8
90.9
94.4
85.8
95.9
82.3
94.2
79.3
54.3
83.9
71.2
64.5
41.3
58.2
38.9
64.8
49.9
90.3
81.8
89.0
80.0
91.0
81.6
89.8
82.1
93.6
84.4
78.1
71.2
72.2
64.7
79.1
67.0
79.4
74.1
82.1
76.6
Latvia
74.9
60.1
66.3
64.3
74.1
61.2
75.0
58.2
78.1
62.8
Lithuania
82.6
67.9
:
:
78.9
66.2
85.5
64.5
82.0
69.9
Malta
80.2
80.9
82.1
78.7
77.8
81.4
82.6
82.6
80.5
81.5
Netherlands
86.4
74.2
89.0
78.7
84.3
73.3
85.5
73.1
84.4
70.9
Norway
81.6
74.1
:
:
84.1
80.0
80.8
74.3
81.2
70.2
Romania
46.8
32.6
57.6
42.4
43.6
29.6
43.4
28.9
47.5
44.1
Slovakia
83.8
76.6
89.2
79.2
78.5
74.3
83.7
78.8
84.9
74.6
Slovenia
73.3
67.6
76.5
65.2
62.0
71.7
74.5
62.5
77.9
72.5
Spain
88.1
76.4
91.8
81.8
84.5
73.9
85.0
73.9
85.2
70.1
Source: Eurostat data based on national health interview surveys (HIS round 2004: period 1999–2003).
Explanatory note: Data refers to the number of persons who consulted a medical doctor (including general practitioners, specialists) during the
past 12 months. It refers to persons from 15 years and older, living in private households and for some countries also in institutions like homes for
the elderly. Data are expressed as relative percentages within population groups defined (475).
(475) For further information see Eurostat metadata. http://epp.eurostat.ec.europa.eu/portal/page/portal/product_
details/dataset?p_product_code=HLTH_CO_INPA
129
ACCESS TO HEALTHCARE AND LONG-TERM CARE: Equal for women and men?
Table 2 — Inpatient hospitalisation of women and men during the past 12 months
by educational level (%) in some European countries, 2004
Total
Pre-primary,
primary education
or first stage of
basic education —
level 0 and 1
Lower secondary
or second stage of
basic education —
level 2
Upper secondary
education — level 3
Post-secondary
non-tertiary
and tertiary
education — level
4,5 and 6
Women
Men
Women
Men
Women
Men
Women
Men
Women
Men
Austria
13.4
13.1
15.6
15.0
:
:
12.0
12.7
11.5
11.6
Belgium
15.4
13.3
20.6
16.5
14.5
16.8
14.1
12.0
13.1
10.7
Bulgaria
9.3
8.4
14.3
15.9
10.2
9.9
7.4
6.0
7.0
6.3
Cyprus
9.7
8.1
12.6
11.2
9.7
7.0
8.9
7.7
7.0
5.8
Czech Republic
15.7
10.4
20.0
10.7
15.6
12.1
12.1
9.9
13.5
4.8
Estonia
10.6
11.3
12.8
18.9
11.6
13.8
10.5
9.3
8.0
10.6
Germany
14.5
10.5
11.9
13.2
15.3
11.1
12.2
7.7
12.0
9.3
Greece
7.2
7.4
10.5
11.8
4.3
4.2
3.5
3.8
3.8
4.2
Hungary
18.0
12.5
22.9
17.6
19.7
13.2
13.6
10.1
14.5
8.4
Iceland
15.0
7.9
23.4
10.7
17.4
8.0
10.7
7.4
14.4
7.6
Latvia
11.8
10.9
18.2
13.2
14.2
12.9
10.2
10.3
11.9
8.5
Malta
10.7
10.0
11.5
9.5
11.3
10.8
7.1
9.1
10.3
9.9
Netherlands
7.3
5.0
9.4
7.1
5.2
3.8
6.6
4.2
5.9
4.0
Norway
14.1
10.5
:
:
16.4
14.8
12.8
10.0
14.9
8.2
Poland
12.4
8.8
12.4
10.0
:
:
12.8
8.3
10.4
7.0
Romania
8.1
5.5
8.3
6.9
7.9
5.5
7.7
4.9
9.6
7.0
Slovenia
16.0
18.4
20.3
17.9
12.3
15.9
15.1
21.8
10.3
18.8
Spain
10.4
9.2
12.1
12.2
9.0
8.1
8.1
5.4
9.4
7.5
United Kingdom
8.4
6.2
9.3
9.1
8.4
6.5
7.6
6.2
8.1
4.5
Source: Eurostat data based on national health interview surveys (HIS round 2004: period 1999–2003).
Explanatory note: Number of persons (15 years and older) who were hospitalised for more than one day. Refers to persons living in private
households and for some countries also in institutions like homes for the elderly. Data are expressed as relative percentages within population
groups defined. Data are expressed as relative percentages within population groups defined by the background variables: sex, age groups
(10 years intervals) and educational level (according ISCED 97) (476). (476) For further information see Eurostat metadata.
http://epp.eurostat.ec.europa.eu/portal/page/portal/product_
details/dataset?p_product_code=HLTH_CO_INPA
130
5. Annex – Statistical tables
Table 3 — Inpatient hospitalisation during the past 12 months
of women and men by age in some European countries, 2004
Total
w
m
15 to 24
years
25 to 34
years
35 to 44
years
45 to 54
years
55 to 64
years
65 to 74
years
75 to 84
years
w
w
w
w
w
w
w
m
m
m
m
m
m
m
> 85 years
w
m
Austria
13.4 13.1 10.2
Belgium
15.4 13.3 12.2 11.0 15.0
8.6
9.9
11.8 14.1 14.5 16.0 15.7 20.5 18.6 23.7 20.4 29.3 16.2
Bulgaria
9.3
8.4
9.8
3.4
6.1
5.8
Cyprus
9.7
8.1
9.2
4.4
10.0 10.2 10.6 10.7 13.6 12.3 14.5 16.3 18.2 20.7 22.6 25.7 19.8 25.2
9.4
8.6
10.5
9.1
10.2 11.4 16.8 13.6 18.2
5.6
7.0
10.1 11.2 16.2 15.1 14.5 16.6 25.5 18.0
3.1
5.6
7.6
11.1
3.8
8.7
6.1
7.4
Czech Republic 15.7 10.4 11.2
4.9
18.3
3.5
11.9
5.1
12.8 10.0 13.0 17.0 18.3 25.2 29.5 36.2 44.0
:
Estonia
10.6 11.3 10.2
9.7
7.9
8.7
10.3
9.5
11.1 10.0 10.9 13.6 11.9 18.1 15.2 21.5
:
:
Germany
14.5 10.5 11.5
9.5
16.7
4.7
13.4
7.4
11.6 10.0 13.6 14.7 18.4 19.2 17.8 23.2
:
:
Greece
7.2
2.3
1.5
2.6
2.7
4.2
3.6
4.1
Hungary
18.0 12.5 15.2
7.2
15.6
5.3
13.0
8.4
19.3 16.4 15.4 18.0 23.8 22.8 30.4 21.2 15.3
:
Iceland
15.0
:
:
7.4
4.2
9.6
12.7 15.5 15.6 21.6 18.9 25.8
7.9
13.4
6.6
15.7
6.9
15.1
4.7
6.8
9.9
7.5
8.4
8.4
7.4
8.7
11.5 11.3 14.6 16.0 20.5 19.8
8.8
11.3
9.6
9.4
30.5 15.8
:
:
Latvia
11.8 10.9
Malta
10.7 10.0 10.8 10.2 10.5 10.4 11.5 10.2 10.2
9.8
9.7
10.4 13.8
Netherlands
7.3
4.5
1.7
7.3
3.0
5.3
2.9
6.4
4.3
8.0
7.3
Norway
14.1 10.5 10.6
7.2
22.2
8.7
11.1
6.7
10.5
9.3
10.6 16.0 11.9 14.3 22.9 19.8 22.4 15.9
5.0
:
:
:
:
10.0
4.9
20.8
:
11.0 12.0 14.2 16.6
9.3
7.2
9.5
Poland
12.4
8.8
9.8
4.8
13.9
4.6
9.4
7.4
12.3 11.2 13.7 13.5 16.4 16.2 18.8 20.1 12.0 11.6
Romania
8.1
5.5
6.3
1.5
7.4
3.1
7.0
4.9
9.3
Slovenia
16.0 18.4 20.3 15.9 19.4 15.2
6.5
12.3 14.9 16.9 10.3 22.4 19.7 26.1 27.3
Spain
10.4
9.2
3.7
5.0
12.6
5.3
9.5
6.8
6.7
9.7
10.7 12.8 13.1 15.6 18.7 19.2 21.0 24.6
UK
8.4
6.2
6.8
5.5
12.3
3.1
6.7
5.4
7.6
5.7
8.6
8.0
8.9
9.0
9.6
11.1 10.3
6.5
14.8
8.7
:
8.8
2.3
9.8
:
:
:
:
:
:
Source: Eurostat data based on national health interview surveys (HIS round 2004: period 1999–2003).
Explanatory note: Number of persons (15 years and older) who were hospitalised for than one day. Refers to persons living in private households and
for some countries also in institutions like homes for the elderly. Data are expressed as relative percentages within population groups defined (477).
(477) For further information see Eurostat metadata.
http://epp.eurostat.ec.europa.eu/portal/page/portal/product_
details/dataset?p_product_code=HLTH_CO_INPA
131
References
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ACCESS TO HEALTHCARE AND LONG-TERM CARE: Equal for women and men?
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European Commission
Access to healthcare and long-term care: Equal for women and men?
Final Synthesis Report
Luxembourg: Publications Office of the European Union
2010 — 146 p. — 21 × 29.7 cm
ISBN: 978-92-79-14854-5
doi:10.2767/93670
Though significant progress has been made in increasing the quality of health care across
the European Union, many inequalities persist. In particular, this report looks at the
inequality in access to healthcare and long-term care between men and women in the EU.
The synthesis presented in this comparative report by the Expert Group on Gender Equality,
Social Inclusion, Health and Long-term Care Issues describes the main differences in the
health status of women and men in European countries and examines how healthcare
and long-term care systems respond to gender specific needs in ensuring equal access.
The report considers the main financial, cultural and physical barriers to access and
provides good practice examples of healthcare promotion, prevention and treatment
programs, as well as of long-term care. It calls attention to the need for promoting gender
mainstreaming in healthcare and long-term care.
This publication is available in printed format in English only, with an executive summary
in English, German and French.
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