A new European-wide health policy, setting targets for reducing health inequalities between east and west and rich and poor, was due to be ratified by health ministers in Copenhagen this week.

The Health 21 programme, unveiled by the World Health Organisation , replaces the Health For All by the year 2000 strategy.

WHO acknowledged health inequalities had widened between eastern and western Europe and within countries including the UK, despite the goals of Health For All, laid down in 1978.

The original 38 targets have been streamlined to 21, including four targets for health services.

The 51 WHO European member states rejected targets on wealth redistribution originally proposed by WHO officials.