Tobacco use reduces overall national income by 3.6%. Obesity accounts for 1–3% of all health expenditure in most countries. These and other surprising facts came to light in a report published by WHO/Europe on the long- and short-term effects of a country’s health status on its financial and economic situation.

The case for investing in public health” describes the direct impact of health on other areas of government throughout the WHO European Region, and shows very clearly that investing in public health leads to sustainable growth. The case for investing in public health includes the significant current costs of ill health for governments in Europe and the investments that can result in sustainable, positive growth in a country.

Cost-effective interventions include preventive approaches to the environmental and social determinants of health; such approaches build resilience in communities and promote healthy behaviour in the population, including attendance at screening and vaccination. The report also outlines the cost of health inequalities and the financial loss that can occur if health threats are not addressed proactively. For example, cancer costs governments and society in the European Union €117 billion per year. Action on its findings could result in greater cross-sectoral collaboration for health, bring about better fiscal efficiency and enhance the general well-being of individuals in the European Region.

To download the report, click here on