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Press Kit

Health: Public and Private - How reforms, inequalities, and our own behaviour shape the quality of our lives

Copyright: serdjophoto

“Public health policy should make people’s lives as boring as possible so they can live out their normal lives, so they can spend time with their family, so they can work. I would say this is the most general definition of public health.”

Prof. Aurelijus Veryga, MD, PhD
President of the Lithuanian National Tobacco and Alcohol Control Coalition

In an age when data is increasingly capable of demonstrating the costs poor health imposes on our economies, societies, and lives, public health policies should correspondingly occupy the minds of policymakers. But public health, so essentially defined above, is complex. It is not simply a matter of medical standards but of behaviours and what affects them. Population Europe connects politicians and stakeholders with the experts who can untangle the interweaving forces driving public health and public health debates. This Population Europe PressKit is a window into what these experts are talking about.

Specifically, it is a look at health inequalities. All of the PopDigests included in this Press Kit feature studies exploring different aspects and causes of public health disparities. Alyson van Raalte, Mikko Myrskylä and Pekka Martikainen determine the extent to which smoking affects variations in lifespans between occupational and socioeconomic groups. Meanwhile, Terje A Eikemo et al. approach from a different angle, asking which interventions have the most potential for reducing inequalities in mortality, an important indicator of overall health.

The third study featured offers a view of the bigger picture. Corina Huisman, Luc G. Bonneux and Joop de Beer explore the “European Health Divide”—the substantial difference in mortality between new and old EU member states. What they find is encouraging: much of the difference, much of the lag in newer member states, is preventable. But how can this be achieved on the ground?

To open this Press Kit, we interview a very active public health advocate who knows. Aurelijus Veryga is medical doctor and public health lecturer, but his most visible work is dedicated to the Lithuanian National Tobacco and Alcohol Control Coalition, of which he is president. We ask Prof. Veryga about a number of different policy interventions, whether traditions are at odds with public health objectives, and to debunk some of the most ubiquitous myths in public health.