Health & Social Inclusion (2002 - 2005)

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The term 'social exclusion' describes a situation in which a person (or a group of people), resident in a society is excluded from the key activities of the society, and is prevented from participation by factors beyond his or her control. Most often, social exclusion can happen when a person is faced with problems like poor health, unemployment, inadequate housing, crime or discrimination. The process of overcoming such deprivation is referred to as social inclusion.

Health, poverty and social exclusion are strongly interrelated concepts that are best addressed through an integrated approach to improve quality of life and the promotion of social inclusion. As put forward by the European Commission, the objective of fighting poverty and social exclusion should be mainstreamed into sectoral policies, such as health policy, at national and community level.

However, the collaboration between the public health sector and the social sector is not as beneficial as it can be in many Member States. Improved access to health services and the use of health promotion strategies and methodologies will positively contribute to the social inclusion process.

In an effort to advance this objective, EuroHealthNet was engaged in a two-phase project to combat social exclusion.

Phase I - Tackling health inequalities and social exclusion; a European Perspective (2002-2003)

Phase I project aimed at:

  • analysing the complex interrelation between poverty, social exclusion and health inequalities;
  • contributing to the Open Coordiantion Process by analysing health issues in several National Action Plans and by formulating recommendations for policy review;
  • developing an approach for cross-national exchange and comparison of effective policies and practices in Europe to tackle health inequalities, poverty and social exclusion;
  • building and maintaining relationships and providing information to professionals and policy makers regarding health inequalities, social exclusion and poverty and to facilitate communication.

Outcomes of the project were:

  • a health audit - or a comparative analysis of health in the National Action Plans by public health experts of the national public health or health promotion agency;
  • a literature review to explore the existing information on this topic;
  • an expert meeting (June 25, 2003) to formulate recommendations on national level for future National Action Plans and to extrapolate recommendations on EU level.

Coordinators: EuroHealthNet and the Netherlands Institute for Health Promotion and Disease Prevention (NIGZ)

Participating countries were: Austria, Belgium, England, Estonia, Germany, Italy, Malta, the Netherlands, Scotland, Spain and Sweden. 

The project was funded under the European Union Action Programme to combat social exclusion.  Phase II - Health and Social Inclusion (2003-2007)

Phase II of the project focused on exchanging best practices and on effective policy development and implementation in this area.

The main aims of the project were:

  • to focus on the contribution that health related policies, programmes and interventions can make to tackling social exclusion. This will occur trough a cross-national exchange of effective policies and integrated, transferable best practices in Europe in the field;
  • to foster greater collaboration between the social and the health policy sector by providing examples of how such partnerships can take place.

The main project activities included:

  • analysis of EU policies that have an impact on the reduction (or widening) of health inequalities;
  • analysis of good practices regarding public health approaches that contribute to reduce social exclusion in participating countries;
  • to organise and conduct exchange visits to good practice projects in other Member States.

The Health and Social Inclusion project was coordinated by EuroHealthNet on behalf of NHS Health Scotland, the European Commission contract holder.

The partnership involved eleven European countries, as well as representatives of a Health Action Zone in England and the European Health Management Association (EHMA). 

The project was funded under the European Union Action Programme to combat social exclusion.



EuroHealthNet illustrates the strong links which exist between health, poverty and social exclusion
European Quality of Life Survey 2012
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