In 2016, the deaths of 1.2 million Europeans under 75 were considered premature and could have been prevented, according to a report by Eurostat, the European Statistical Office. Around 741,000 of these could have been prevented while 422,000 could have been treated with timely and effective intervention.
The concept of avoidable mortality is based on the idea that certain deaths (for specific age groups and from specific diseases) could be ‘avoided’. This means that they would not have occurred at this stage if there had been effective public health and primary prevention interventions and/or timely and effective health care in place. In particular, some of the deaths contained in this category related to smoking and alcohol. These deaths could have been prevented before the onset of disease or injury.
Heart attacks (174.000 deaths), cancers of the trachea, bronchus and lung (168.000 deaths) and strokes (87.000) accounted together for overall third (37%) of total avoidable causes of death of people aged less than 75.
The proportions of potentially preventable deaths vary between countries. The highest rates are in Lithuania (336 per 100,000 inhabitants), Latvia (331) and Hungary (325). The lowest are in Italy (110) and Cyprus (100).
For treatable deaths, the highest rates are in Romania (207.71/100,000 inhabitants), Lithuania (205.58) and Latvia (203.13). By comparison, Switzerland (52.63), Iceland (62.35), France (62.47) and Norway (62.88) are the highest-ranked countries.
These indicators highlight the potential gaps in European health systems but should not be used as a measuring point for “monitoring healthcare” in different countries.