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Open Access Research article

Sustainable development and public health: rating European countries

Kristina Seke1*, Natasa Petrovic2, Veljko Jeremic3, Jovanka Vukmirovic4, Biljana Kilibarda5 and Milan Martic3

Author Affiliations

1 Communication Centre, Institute of Public Health of Serbia “Dr Milan Jovanovic Batut”, dr Subotica, 5, Belgrade, Serbia

2 Department for Ecology, Faculty of Organizational Sciences, University of Belgrade, Jove Ilica, 154, Belgrade, Serbia

3 Department for Operations Research and Statistics, Faculty of Organizational Sciences, University of Belgrade, Jove Ilica, 154, Belgrade, Serbia

4 Department for Marketing Research, Belgrade Business School, Kraljice Marije, 73, Belgrade, Serbia

5 Centre for Health Promotion, Institute of Public Health of Serbia “Dr Milan Jovanovic Batut”, dr Subotica, 5, Belgrade, Serbia

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BMC Public Health 2013, 13:77  doi:10.1186/1471-2458-13-77

Published: 28 January 2013

Abstract

Background

Sustainable development and public health quite strongly correlate, being connected and conditioned by one another. This paper therein attempts to offer a representation of Europe’s current situation of sustainable development in the area of public health.

Methods

A dataset on sustainable development in the area of public health consisting of 31 European countries (formally proposed by the European Union Commission and EUROSTAT) has been used in this paper in order to evaluate said issue for the countries listed thereof. A statistical method which synthesizes several indicators into one quantitative indicator has also been utilized. Furthermore, the applied method offers the possibility to obtain an optimal set of variables for future studies of the problem, as well as for the possible development of indicators.

Results

According to the results obtained, Norway and Iceland are the two foremost European countries regarding sustainable development in the area of public health, whereas Romania, Lithuania, and Latvia, some of the European Union’s newest Member States, rank lowest. The results also demonstrate that the most significant variables (more than 80%) in rating countries are found to be “healthy life years at birth, females” (r2 = 0.880), “healthy life years at birth, males” (r2 = 0.864), “death rate due to chronic diseases, males” (r2 = 0.850), and “healthy life years, 65, females” (r2 = 0.844).

Conclusions

Based on the results of this paper, public health represents a precondition for sustainable development, which should be continuously invested in and improved.

After the assessment of the dataset, proposed by EUROSTAT in order to evaluate progress towards the agreed goals of the EU Sustainable Development Strategy (SDS), this paper offers an improved set of variables, which it is hoped, may initiate further studies concerning this problem.

Keywords:
Public health; Sustainable development; I-distance method; Rating countries