Council conclusions for women’s health in Europe accepted by all Member States

13 JUNE 2006

Following the informal meeting between health ministers in all European Member state in Vienna in April this year, the Council of the European Union has formally recognised the need that more attention is given to women’s health issues – and endometriosis is again highlighted as a disease which deserves specific attention.

In their official report, it is emphasised that although women live longer than men, they suffer a greater burden of unhealthy life years.

The incidence and prevalence of certain diseases like osteoporosis are higher in women. Others such as cardiovascular disease, cancer and mental health problems affect men and women differently.

Some diseases related to birth and reproductive organs like endometriosis and cervical cancer affect women exclusively.

The Council of the European Union has formally recognised that the citizens of the European Union, more than half of them being women, deserve the highest possible levels of human health and consider it to be an essential prerequisite to a high quality of life, and that equality between women and men shall be ensured in all policy areas.

They have agreed that gender sensitive prevention measures, health promotion, and treatment contribute towards reducing morbidity and mortality from major diseases among women and consequently improve their quality of life.

The Council also acknowledge that social and health determinants, clinical manifestations, therapeutical approaches, effectiveness and side effects of treatment of disease and disorders may differ between women and men, and have stressed the importance of raising awareness amongst the general public but also health care professionals that gender is a key determinant of health.

They recognise that any inequalities that may exist within and between Member States need addressing by tackling social and economic health determinants.

The Council of the European Union invites the Member States to:

  • Collect gender-specific data on health, and to break down and analyse statistics by gender;
  • Take initiatives to enhance general and health professionals’ knowledge on the relationship between gender and health;
  • Promote health and prevent disease taking into account where appropriate gender difference;
  • Promote research into the different effects of medicines on women and men, and gender- specific health research;
  • Encourage gender mainstreaming in healthcare;
  • Examine and tackle health inequalities which may exist accordingly in order to reduce the health gap and ensure equality of treatment and access to care.

Simultaneously, the Council invites the European Commission to:

  • Integrate gender aspects in health research;
  • Support the exchange of information and experience on good practice in gender-sensitive health promotion and prevention;
  • Assist Member States in developing effective strategies to reduce health inequalities with a gender dimension;
  • Promote and strengthen the comparability and compatibility of gender-specific information on health across Member States and at Community level through the development of appropriate data;
  • Present a second report on the state of women’s health in the European Union.

Council conclusions on women’s health: 9502/06 (SAN 127/SOC 245)

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