Eighty per cent of Irish people report being in good health – the highest level in the EU

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Eighty per cent of Irish people report being in good health, the highest level in the EU, according to a new European report.

State of Health in the EU Ireland: Country Health Profile 2023, which is published every second year, compares Ireland with other European Union (EU) countries and the EU average across a range of indicators including health, risk factors, and the performance of the health system.

The report, published in December 2023,  showed that Ireland’s mortality rates from preventable and treatable causes was about 20% lower than respective EU averages and had declined at a faster rate over the last decade.

Irish people at age 65 had the third highest disability-free life expectancy in the EU.

The uptake of flu, COVID-19 and HPV vaccinations were well above the EU average.

Ninety-six per cent of adults had received the full primary COVID-19 vaccination course in 2022, compared to the EU average of 82%, with 76% having received the second booster, which was the second highest in the EU.

Health Minister, Stephen Donnelly said, “These Country Health Profiles provide a concise and policy-relevant overview of health and health services in the EU/European Economic Area.  They emphasise the characteristics and challenges in each country against a backdrop of cross-country comparisons. They have helped support us in policy making and are an important means for mutual learning and voluntary exchange.”

The report also showed that 37% of the population of Ireland over 16 reported doing at least 150 minutes of physical activity per week, higher than the EU average of 33%. Within the same group, 33% reported consuming five daily servings of fruit and vegetables.

The report also revealed that more than 35% of all deaths in Ireland were attributable to behavioural risk factors including smoking, dietary risks, alcohol consumption and low physical activity.

Minister for Public Health and Wellbeing and National Health, Hildegarde Naughton, Naughton, said, “Investment in prevention to reverse the trends of rising levels of obesity is essential to protect the health of the population of Ireland. I am delighted to see that the levels of overweight and obesity reported by individuals has reduced by 5% over the last four years. The obesity policy and action plan (OPAP) is a ten-step plan, now in its eighth year, which is being delivered by the Department of Health with cross-Government and multi-sectoral partners under the aegis of Healthy Ireland.

The report also highlighted that cancer screening rates in Ireland were generally very high at 49.5% for Colorectal cancer, 72% for Cervical cancer, which is above the EU average, and 74% for Breast Cancer.

This year for the first time the report included a section on mental health. It outlined how Ireland’s Strategy to Reduce Suicide had contributed to declining suicide rates over the past decade.

Minister for Mental Health & Older People, Mary Butler, said, “Promotion of mental well-being and improvement of services available to people experiencing mental health difficulties are key priorities for Government, and these figures are a reminder of why it is important that we retain that focus and commitment.”