EuroHealthNet, the network for improving health, equity and wellbeing, has welcomed the focus on health inequalities and wellbeing headlining the latest report by the World Health Organisation on the situation in Europe.
The European Health Report 2012: Charting the way to wellbeing, shows that application of knowledge about how to improve health across all public policies brings demonstrable benefits: life expectancy is up by an average of five years since 1980 and is projected to increase despite major risks and threats. But data from individual countries show large inequalities in life expectancy and years gained, especially when analysed by sex and regions.
''This important report shows the paradox of population health in twentieth century Europe'' said EuroHealthNet Director Clive Needle, speaking in Brussels. ''On one hand we should celebrate that the states who invest in health improvement and tackle the factors that cause illness perform best - that shows not just in length of lives but in quality of life and much wider societal benefits. But the other side of the coin is that, while we will never have a Europe that is homogenous and absolutely equal , many health and social outcomes are avoidably unfair and inequitable, contributing to miserable lives and suffering for too many people. That is a priority challenge for all actors, from international organisations to local communities. We particularly welcome the growing focus on health as part of wellbeing, and how WHO Europe is part of initiatives to develop serious measurements, indicators and actions. We call on the WHO and EU to move further and faster towards that approach as part of their respective 2020 strategies.
EuroHealthNet is involved in several major processes working with the EU and WHO on health improvement, equity and wellbeing:
- It will contribute to the WHO Europe Oslo II conference in April on sustainability of health systems in the current economic circumstances;
- It is supporting the WHO Europe 2020 process via its national members and Brussels office working on implementation of essential public health operations;
- It is supporting increasing EU Joint Actions for health via its national members, for example the EU Joint Actions on Inequalities and Social Determinants, on Mental Health and HIV & AIDS with others currently in the pipeline to be announced later in 2013;
- It is contributing to information for the EC mid-term report on implementation of the Communication Solidarity in Health due to be published in 2013;
- It is a partner with other public organisations, WHO and EC in a major conference in November in Brussels to celebrate the impact of 20 years of an EU public health role;
- It is involved in significant EU funded research consortia working on ideas for health improvement linked to employment, welfare and children as well as sustainable lifestyles;
- It is developing national pilot initiatives and capacity building measures linking health and social systems in the context of the EU Social Investment Package and social inclusion Programmes.
- It is leading work with European regions to use new EU funds for health gains
- In May EuroHealthNet plans to announce a major new initiative to strengthen all this work.