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The issues of prevention in the health field

The issues of prevention in the health field

Type of text : Opinion
Type of referral : Government referral
Working group : Section for Social Affairs and Health

Rapporteur(s) :

Jean-Claude ETIENNE
Qualified Individuals Group
Christian CORNE
Qualified Individuals Group
Date adopted : 14/02/2012 | Period : 2010-2015

Prevention in the health field is one of the major challenges facing a health policy which is still overly focussed on cure. For the Economic, Social and Environmental Council, there are several reasons why today France is shifting its focus towards a policy of prevention:

  • At an individual level
    Despite generally good health indicators, premature death is higher, and the disability-free life expectancy indicator is lower than in certain EU countries. Social and regional inequalities in access to health remain. Life expectancy of an executive at 35 years of age is thus 6.3 years more than that of a labourer.
  • At a collective level
    The impact of the environment and living conditions is still insufficiently taken into account. Thus, atmospheric pollution is responsible for 30,000 premature deaths in France, and pathologies such as lead poisoning persist. Working conditions also have a concerning impact, especially when combined with the poor demographics for workplace doctors.
    The need to provide responses to new health challenges: the increase in chronic illnesses, a high level of addictions and levels of legal drug consumptions greater than that of our European neighbours.

The mechanisms are there to implement a more effective prevention policy:

  • providing effective responses to the shortcomings of our system, namely:
    - poor identification of financing allocated to prevention and cure (5.9 billion Euros were dedicated to prevention in 2010, to which can be added costs of 5.7 billion allocated to curative medicine;
    - insufficient research into epidemiology;
    - complex governance due to a host of national and local players, often with poorly definedcompetences.
  • making full use of the potential of new approaches (neurosciences, telemedicine etc).