The World Health Organisation is not in the habit of publishing unauthenticated or biased data, so when a recent WHO report said that women in the UK are subject to a poorer quality of life than women in almost every other European country, no one has disputed the information. Certainly many of the UK’s lower-income females would agree, though they probably don’t have any idea what to do about it. Apparently, neither does anyone else.
Prof. Sir Michael Marmut of the University College London was chair of the report; he stated that the inequality of health care stems from underlying social and economic inequalities, and that the UK is
“. . . failing [its] children, women and young people on a grand scale.” He also said the failure is avoidable, but the report did not propose specific changes, only a need for action.
The researchers were looking at 53 European countries to compare inequalities in health, wealth and education. According to their figures, Britain’s rate of obesity is the worst of 19 countries for which statistics were available, but one in five children in the UK are living at poverty levels, and only half of that group achieve ‘good’ development by age five.
One of the most startling statistics concerned the mortality rate of children: 5.4 per 1,000 British children die before age five, which is fewer than the European average but a lot more than the Czech Republic at 3.44, or Iceland at 2.2. A major factor in this situation, said Marmut, goes back to the poverty levels and their direct link to child mortality.
Another set of statistics showed that there are more than a million UK citizens in the age group from 16 to 24 who are not in employment, education or training (listed as NEETs). This situation, with a large segment of the population ‘going nowhere’ for various reasons, is what Prof. Marmut called “. . . a public health time bomb waiting to explode,” since the economic slump has meant more unemployed young people trying to raise children without adequate financial resources.