Concerns about health situation in UK and Austria

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Saturday, August 13, 2005

A study in the UK has found that a so called "health inequality gap" between rich and poor, measured by infant mortality and life expectancy, has increased. Progress in narrowing the gap has been made on child poverty and improving housing, as well as cancer and heart disease death rates. Still, the life expectancy in the wealthiest areas of Britain is seven to eight years longer than the poorest areas.

The public health minister, Caroline Flint, said so-called "health trainers" would be provided for poorer areas (along with extra funding) in order to help people adopt "a healthier way of life". The government had pledged to reduce the inequality gap by 10% between 1997 and 2010.

Concerns have also been raised about the level of health care in Austria. Cancer and heart specialists have criticised the Austrian system. They argue that, due to lack of funds, patients are not treated as well as in other countries. Critics see these developments as leading to two-class medical care systems. Health minister Maria Rauch-Kallat has denied the allegations, saying that "everyone gets what they need". In a related move, non-monetary remunerations by pharmaceutical companies for doctors prescribing certain drugs have also come under heavy criticism.

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