Vienna (dpa) - The regional committee for Europe of the World Health Organization (WHO) opened a four-day conference on Monday concentrating on psychological problems, and the health of young people and children.
A statement said that in the European region - also including the entire Russian Federation and countries of Central Asia - the deaths of 55,000 young people were registered annually in connection with alcohol.
More than 60 per cent of children said they faced violent or aggressive behaviour at home. Ten to 20 per cent had a psychological or behavioural problem. By the time they were 15, between 60 and 70 per cent of young people had smoked at least once.
The statement said that psychological illnesses were widespread. In the European region, more than 30 million people each year suffered from a severe depression.
Mental illnesses of one kind or another made up 12 per cent of all ailments at present, with 15 per cent predicted by the year 2020. Psychological illnesses could account for a third or more of all health spending, but in fact many countries in the region used less then three per cent of their health budgets on these illnesses.
Austrian Secretary of State for Health Reinhart Waneck said that in the European region, an estimated 1.56 million people were infected with the AIDS virus HIV. "In some parts of the region, the HIV epidemic is growing faster than anywhere in the world".
According to a WHO paper, 84 per cent of the HIV cases registered in the east of the region were of people aged under 30, whereas in the west the proportion was 31 per cent.
Taking part in the present conference, the 53rd of the WHO European region, are about 300 delegates from the 52 member states.
Copyright 2003 dpa Deutsche Presse-Agentur GmbH
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Last updated: 09/11/2003 - 04:34 PM