Like all health organisations, our work and the daily life of EuroHealthNet has been greatly changed by the COVID-19 pandemic. Our focus has been on addressing the unequal effects of the pandemic. We also looked at the wider and long-term consequences on social and economic life, and how they will interact with health in the future.
EuroHealthNet’s approach and philosophy – a focus on health determinants and health inequalities – has equipped the organisation with the expertise for this analysis. For a number of years, we have examined how to make health systems more sustainable by strengthening health promotion and prevention and anticipating future developments. This has helped prepare us to analyse the changes being brought about now by the pandemic, and support members prepare for the changes to come.
EuroHealthNet is helping to build health and care systems fit for the future. Those systems will be sustainable, equitable, community-based and health promoting and connected. They value and prioritise creating and maintaining good health as much as treating disease. Health, social, education, employment and environmental systems are connected to allow people to live healthily and independently for longer.
What do health and care systems fit for the future look like? Watch to learn more.
The future of public health explored by public health experts
In 2020, a group of senior public health officials from national and regional public health agencies across Europe came together to discuss current developments in public health and implications for the future. This foresight exercise was led by EuroHealthNet and the Dutch National Institute for Public Health and the Environment (RIVM).
This work resulted in recommendations and pathways for national and regional public health institutes, governments, the European Commission, international agencies and organisations, and EuroHealthNet’s strategic direction. The report is being used as a resource by member organisations to develop their own strategies.
The group discussed challenges connected to the COVID-19 pandemic such as the rise in social and health inequalities, the increasing pressure on health systems, and negative impacts on population mental health. They reflect both direct as well as indirect impacts of the crisis on health, such as for instance unemployment and its pathways to ill-health. Climate change and (further) environmental degradation were highlighted as key long-term challenges. The group concluded that “building back better” from the pandemic could provide an opportunity to strengthen health promotion and disease prevention, to bring more sectors together around the topic of health, including mental health and to enable citizens to adopt healthier, more sustainable behaviours. The importance of community action and social cohesion during the pandemic also provides opportunities to boost local level initiatives and networks.
Read the report here
Analysis and tools to address health inequalities within and outside health systems
The COVID-19 pandemic has exposed health inequalities in Europe, and shown that action can no longer be delayed. In early 2021, EuroHealthNet published the new European resource hub on health inequalities, health-inequalities.eu. Available in all EU languages, the portal brings together Health inequalities research, data, public health practices and projects, EU initiatives, financing, tools, publications, and information about international, national, regional policy.
The portal hosts a health equity map of Europe, and a database of more than 800 resources which will continue to grow in coming years to incorporate new research, publications, practices, and organisations. It is also home to EuroHealthNet’s eGuide to financing health-promoting services.
Health-inequalities.eu is designed to provide information for public health professionals as well as civil servants, educators, and urban planners. In the first 10 weeks of publication, it reached more than 7000 of them.
EuroHealthNet’s future directions
Over the last two years, a new strategic direction for EuroHealthNet for the next 5 years has been under development. The Strategic Development Plan (2021-2026) covers three areas:
- ‘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’ – the impacts of COVID-19 and how to transform into an agile and responsible organisation and respond best to current crises and contribute solutions.
We aim to lead and act on health equity and wellbeing and 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 ‘whole of society’ approach.
- Novel ways to promote health and prevent diseases, make solutions more attractive, and contribute to the transformation of health systems.
- The social, economic, environmental, 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.