Mission and Vision
EuroHealthNet is a not-for-profit partnership. It includes organisations, institutes, and authorities working on public health, disease prevention, promoting health and wellbeing, and reducing inequalities.
EuroHealthNet’s mission is to help build a sustainable, fair, and inclusive Europe through healthier communities and to tackle health inequalities within and between European States.
EuroHealthNet’s vision is of a society in which all citizens enjoy their fundamental right to the highest attainable standard of health, without distinction of race, religion, gender or economic or social condition.
Achieving this is not simply the responsibility of health care systems but of all government sectors and actors that contribute to ensuring the conditions for good health, across the population. Therefore, EuroHealthNet stimulates and supports the implementation of integrated approaches addressing the social, environmental, economic and commercial determinants of health. We operate at all levels and across the political spectrum in relevant health, social, and employment fields to ensure consistent, coherent, and effective action to sustain and improve health for all.
EuroHealthNet builds its work on a wide body of evidence that demonstrates that health inequalities affect all people, and that ‘more equitable societies do better’, on a very wide range of indicators. We believe that integrated policy objectives which are aligned with the UN Sustainable Development Goals are the best way to achieve improved health, wellbeing, and equity. Moreover, our vision is one where public health has a key role to play in the mitigation and adaption to the climate crisis.
The term ‘health’ refers to both physical and mental health, which are interlinked. EuroHealthNet upholds the values of equity, justice, community engagement and empowerment, which lie at the heart of health promotion.
We work towards:
- Health systems and societies that move away from narrow, curative conceptions of health and place a greater emphasis on health promotion, health equity, and achieving an ‘Economy of Wellbeing’.
- Health systems and governments that recognise that lifestyle-related risk factors for bad health are strongly related to the conditions in which people learn, live, work, play, and age- the social determinants of health.
- Communities that effectively resource health promotion, and that invest in both up- and down-stream approaches to address the social determinants of health, reduce inequalities and advance sustainability.
Based close to Brussels’ European quarter, EuroHealthNet brings together partners operating at EU, national, regional, and local levels. This partnership model strengthens the voice of and approaches to health promotion and disease prevention in the EU. It also stimulates action at all levels of government.
The office monitors, influences, analyses, and explains EU policy and action related to health inequalities and determinants. The expertise and experience of the partners are amplified and shared. This helps to influence change at European, national, and sub-national levels.
EuroHealthNet also has an important role in facilitating information exchange between partners through country exchange visits, capacity building actions and working groups. This helps generate capacity and knowledge, so partners can build on the best that Europe has to offer in the field of public health and health promotion.
EuroHealthNet activities take place across three platforms covering policy, practice, and research.
In addition, a core team unifies and builds connections between the platforms.
EuroHealthNet members are public health organisations, institutes and authorities that make up the EuroHealthNet General Council. Their representatives elect EuroHealthNet’s Executive board which governs the organisation.
Why EuroHealthNet focuses on health inequalities
Health inequalities are the systematic differences in health between social groups that are avoidable and unfair. The higher a person’s socio-economic status the healthier they are likely to be. This is the case in all regions of Europe.
We see health inequalities amongst people in different income, wealth, and educational groups. We also see them for instance, amongst people of different genders, race and ethnicities, occupations, and areas of residence. Similarly, there are also inequalities between countries and regions in Europe. The changing climate, trends in digitisation, and migration could cause these inequalities to grow further.
The Economic Burden
Health inequalities are unfair to individuals. They are also costly to our societies and economies, placing heavy burdens on health and social systems. Inequalities in health are also linked to an increased need for health and social care. Additionally, those whose health is less than optimal are often less productive and less able to contribute to government revenues and economic growth. Health inequalities also lead to stress, fear, and insecurity, which contributes to unstable societies.
The fact that European countries face many complex issues linked to health inequalities was already known before the COVID-19 pandemic. The crisis added new urgency and provided more examples of how these structural inequalities are borne out in health outcomes.
The causes of health inequalities and what can be done
The causes of health inequalities are fundamentally linked to social, political, and economic factors that influence the distribution of power, money, and resources between different population groups and social classes. The WHO links them to five key factors:
- Quality of health care
- Financial insecurity
- Poor quality housing and neighbourhood environment
- Social exclusion
- Lack of decent work and poor working conditions
Inequalities are also linked to consumption patterns, especially in highly industrialised economies like those in Europe. They will increasingly be interlinked with the causes and effects of climate change.
Health inequalities are prevalent and costly, but they can be reduced through both structural and practical measures.
Addressing health inequalities represents a crucial opportunity to not only improve health outcomes for individuals, but also to safeguard the affordability and sustainability of health systems, and to stabilise societies. Levels of health inequalities serve as a good indicator of whether economies are succeeding in generating well-being. Therefore, they show whether the economy is contributing to what all citizens consistently indicate that they value most – their health.
For further information about European, national, and regional action on health Inequalities, and the status in individual member states, visit the EuroHealthNet Health Inequalities Portal
EuroHealthNet has established a Strategic Development Plan for the years 2021-2026, following a two-year consultation with members. The plan covers:
- Building on Foundations. Taking forward effective and successful structures, tools and mechanisms, and developing them further.
- Looking at the Future. Building on the foresight exercise and identifying five priority areas for EuroHealthNet action over the next five years.
- Achieving Change. Examining the impacts of COVID-19, and exploring how to transform into an agile and responsible organisation, in addition to respond best to current crises and contribute solutions.
We aim to improve health equity and wellbeing. Therefore, we will monitor, analyse, propose, build capacity, advise, lead and act on:
- Health equity and systematic application of the equity lens across health and other sector policies and measures; supporting the ‘economy of wellbeing’ and a ‘whole of society’ approach.
- Novel ways to promote health and prevent diseases. Making solutions attractive and sustainable, whilst contributing to the transformation of health and social protection systems.
- The social, economic, environmental, cultural, commercial, behavioural and political determinants of health, which allows us to be agile and responsive to the diverse threats to health equity.
We will have five areas of focus:
- Life Course
Mental health, digital health literacy, and digital exclusion are cross-cutting themes.