Challenges posed by an ageing population, chronic conditions and disability

Age 65+
2013
18.4% – 2060 28.4%

EU citizens
with 2+ chronic conditions

To meet demand…
…GDP must rise 25% by 2050

Healthcare systems across Europe face two significant and interrelated pressures: tightening financial resources and increasing demands for access to health and social care due to the fact that people in Europe are living longer than ever before. This trend is common across the continent, where the proportion of people aged 65+ across the total population of the EU is projected to increase from 18.4 % (93.9 million) in 2014 to 28.4 % (149.1 million) by 2080.1

The problems associated with ageing populations are being intensified by the growing number of people living with chronic conditions, with diseases like diabetes, depression and musculoskeletal (MSK) conditions steadily increasing over the last 20 years in Europe2: an estimated 50 million EU citizens suffer from two or more chronic diseases3 and, increasingly, the ‘disease burden’ is defined by disability rather than premature mortality.

This is placing unprecedented demand on services, leading to significant funding gaps in areas where resources were, until recently, required to a much lesser extent.4 Across the EU, it is estimated that, on average, healthcare spending as a proportion of GDP will have to increase by 25% by 2050 in order to meet rising demand.5

Increasing prevalence of chronic conditions and disability also represents a broader cost to society that will have to be addressed by healthcare systems. According to Fit for Work Europe, lost productivity and sickness absence due to MSK conditions alone costs the EU approximately €300bn each year (2% of GDP). These costs are expected to increase given that ageing workers report more work-related health problems than younger workers – especially MSK conditions.6

Key facts about MSK conditions

OF DISABILITIES WORLDWIDE ARE DUE TO MSKs

3RD GLOBALLY IN IMPACT ON THE HEALTH OF POPULATIONS 7

GREATEST CAUSE OF DISABILITY ACROSS THE EU 8

INCREASE IN NUMBER OF SICK DAYS PER WORKER SINCE 2005 (FROM 5 TO 6)9

ACROSS THE EU 44M WORKERS (1 IN 6) HAVE MSKs WHICH ARE CAUSED BY THEIR WORK

COST TO THE EU EACH YEAR IN LOST PRODUCTIVITY AND SICKNESS ABSENCE (2% OF GDP)

THESE CONDITIONS ACCOUNT FOR HALF OF ALL ABSENCES FROM WORK …

… AND FOR 60% OF PERMANENT WORK INCAPACITY 10

1 Eurostat. (2015). People in the EU – population predictions. Available at: http://ec.europa.eu/eurostat/statistics-explained/index.php/People_in_the_EU_%E2%80%93_population_projections
2 Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation. (2013). The Global Burden of Disease: Generating Evidence, Guiding Policy – European Union and European Free Trade Association Regional Edition. Seattle: IHME.
3 OECD/EU. (2016). Health at a Glance: Europe 2016: State of Health in the EU Cycle. Paris: OECD. Available at: http://www.oecd.org/health/health-at-a-glance-europe-23056088.htm
4 Eurostat. (2014). Morbidity Statistics in the EU. Luxembourg: European Union. Available at: http://ec.europa.eu/eurostat/documents/3888793/5858521/KS-TC-14-003-EN-N.pdf/bd959e6e-10ed-4078-915e-308941c02811
5 Eurostat. (2014). Morbidity Statistics in the EU. Luxembourg: European Union. Available at: http://ec.europa.eu/eurostat/documents/3888793/5858521/KS-TC-14-003-EN-N.pdf/bd959e6e-10ed-4078-915e-308941c02811
6 European Commission. (2016). Facts and figures: Healthy Workplaces Campaign for All Ages 2016-17. Brussels: European Commission. Available at: http://europa.eu/rapid/press-release_MEMO-16-1421_en.htm
7 Woolf, A. D. (2015). Global burden of osteoarthritis and musculoskeletal diseases. BMC Musculoskeletal Disorders, 16(1), S3.
8 The Lancet Global Burden of Disease Study 2013
9 European Working Conditions Survey 2005, 2015
10 Zheltoukhova, K. (2013). Musculoskeletal Disorders and Work. London: The Work Foundation.

Fit for Work Global Alliance is led by The Work Foundation and supported by AbbVie.

Toolkit partners:

Toolkit sponsor:

Fit for Work Global Alliance is a multi-stakeholder initiative, driving policy and practice change across the work and health agendas in Europe and worldwide (over 35 countries). The vision is to raise awareness of the facts of MSKs and make the case for more investment in sustainable healthcare by promoting and supporting the implementation of early intervention practices. Fit for Work is led by The Work Foundation – Lancaster University, which is also providing the Secretariat. AbbVie is founding sponsor since 2008. All the research is produced independently by The Work Foundation, with full editorial control resting with the think-thank alone.

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