One of the greatest challenges in Europe at the beginning of the 21st Century is the wide east-west health gap. In 2008, the difference in life expectancy between men in some Western European countries and Russia was 20 years. Whilst trends for life expectancy at birth have improved in many areas around the world, those for Russia, as well as those for some other former Soviet Union countries, have fluctuated greatly and have not shown signs of growth since the middle of the 20th Century. This problem is most acute in Russia and former Soviet Union countries, but is also far from being solved in the states that have made significant progress since 1990 and joined the European Union in the 21st Century. One of the priorities of the Polish presidency of the European Union, which began in July 2011, is the call for a European solidarity for health that could help to close the health gap dividing Europe.
Copyright Â© 2011 The Royal Society for Public Health. Published by Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.