Disability

Focus

Disability in figures

22.11.12 @ 13:14

  1. By Philip Ebels

BRUSSELS - People from Malta are least likely to say they have health problems that limit their daily activities. In 2011, almost 88 out of 100 told EU pollsters they were fine.

  • Almost 9 in 10 Maltese reported not having any health problems that limit their daily activities. (Photo: European Commission)

In contrast, only 64 percent of Slovenes did and - in 2010 - some 75 percent of EU citizens in general.

That number has remained fairly constant over the past decade, even though in some countries, it has gone up or down over the years.

In Bulgaria, where in 2007 more than 95 percent said to have no problems, in 2011 less than 83 percent did. Similar drops have occurred in Italy and Denmark, while in Sweden, there was a rise of that magnitude.

In all EU member states, men report less health problems than women do. The average difference is some five percent. In some countries, including Denmark and the Netherlands, the difference is closer to 10 percent.

But that may be due to the fact that women tend to live longer.

Old people have more health problems than young people. For those aged 85 and above, that is more than 10 times as much as for those aged 16 to 24, of which seven percent complained about some kind of impairment.

The figures are from the EU's statistics office Eurostat and refer to people who reported feeling “limited in activities [they] usually do because of health problems for at least the last six months.”

They do not include those who are born blind, for example, as they are unlikely to feel limited by their lack of eyesight in the activities they usually do.

The EU does not on a regular basis collect data on people with disabilities as such. One of the problems is finding a common definition of disability, which, according to the European Disability Forum, an umbrella organisation, "is not an easy task."

The European Commission estimates that including all who have a “long-term physical, mental, intellectual or sensory impairment,” one in six people in the EU have a disability - or some 80 million.

Of them, some 30 million people are blind or partially sighted, according to the European Blind Union.

Deaf people are far less numerous, with some 750,000 users of sign language in Europe, according to a spokesperson for the European Union of the Deaf.

There are an estimated 5 million wheelchair users in Europe.

Other prevalent disabilities - severe and less severe - include dyslexia, with in Europe an estimated 25 million sufferers, stuttering, with 5 million, and autism, with 3.3 million.