Health Inequalities in Europe today
Médecins Du Monde Observatory Report 2021

The Covid19 pandemic has revealed the fragility and inadequacy of health systems worldwide, exposed significant gaps in social protection policies and highlighted the importance of access to healthcare for all through public healthcare systems. The importance of Universal Health Coverage has long been recognized through the European Social Pillar on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights. More specifically, Article 16 states: ‘every human being has the right to timely access to affordable, good quality preventive and curative healthcare’. Despite this, around half of the world’s population does not have access to appropriate health services and does not enjoy full coverage of their health needs, while over 800 million people spend at least 10% of their family budget to pay for health care.

The Report of the International Observatory on Health is based on research performed by Médecins du Monde on people excluded from public health services in Europe. The Report contains data and testimonies collected from Médecins du Monde programs in 7 European countries -namely Belgium, France, Germany, Greece, Luxembourg, Sweden and the United Kingdom- between January 2019 and December 2020. Essentially, it is a continuation of the work carried out by the European Network for Vulnerabilities in Health and the Médecins du Monde 2019 Observatory report. It was drafted in collaboration with University College London (UCL).

By presenting quantitative data on people excluded from public health, along with their personal testimonies, the Médecins du Monde Observatory Report outlines the social and economic situation of those who are excluded from the National Health Systems in Europe, also taking into account the different political conditions and circumstances.

The report includes four (4) general recommendations for urgent action at different policy levels.

More specifically:

  • Provide better data: ensure that monitoring instruments provide relevant information on exclusion from healthcare
  • Review the laws: ensure that the right to healthcare is not undermined
  • Reduce barriers: make healthcare systems more accessible
  • Create healthier living conditions: reduce homelessness as a major determinant for ill health

The President of Médecins du Monde Greece, Ch. Tziouvaras, noted: “We hope that the report will be a useful resource for policy makers and health workers interested in tackling inequalities and social determinants of health. At the same time, it contains the necessary perspective for the creation of inclusive health services and for the formulation of policies that ensure the Right to Health for All”.


Read the full Report of the International Observatory of Médecins du Monde on health inequalities in Europe, here: