Dr Piroska Östlin


Acting WHO Regional Director for Europe and Director of the Division of Policy and Governance for Health and Well-being


The Division's missions are:

  • to lead and coordinate implementation of the new European policy and strategy for health and well-being – Health 2020 – and the findings of the major studies on the European social determinants and health divide, governance for health and the economics of health promotion that informed the policy; and
  • to provide strategic and technical leadership in programme areas that are highly relevant and cross-cutting for the work of all technical divisions.

In pursuing this mission, the Division supports countries in preparing national and subnational health policies; provides strategic and technical leadership on governance for health and health equity, particularly on the social determinants of health, gender, human rights and vulnerability; and coordinates the Healthy Cities and the Regions for Health networks.


The Division's programmes and technical areas of work are:

  • implementation of Health 2020
  • national and subnational intersectoral health policies
  • governance for health
  • social determinants of health
  • vulnerability and migrant and Roma health
  • gender and health
  • human rights and health
  • patient empowerment
  • public health implications of migration
  • urban health and Healthy Cities
  • Regions for Health
  • coordination of healthy settings networks and mainstreaming of health promotion.


Dr Piroska Östlin holds a PhD in Medical Science from the University of Uppsala, Sweden, and is Associate Professor in Public Health at the Karolinska Institutet, Stockholm, Sweden. She was appointed Director of the Division of Policy and Governance for Health and Well-being in 2016.

Dr Östlin joined WHO/Europe in 2010 as Special Adviser on Social Determinants of Health and in 2012 became Programme Manager of the Vulnerability and Health Programme.

Dr Östlin has been coordinator of two WHO task forces (in 2004 and 2009) on Research Priorities for Equity in Health. She was also a Member of the WHO Scientific Group on Equity Analysis and Research, as well as co-chair of the Women and Gender Equity Knowledge Network of the Global WHO Commission on Social Determinants of Health (CSDH).

Between 2001 and 2010 Dr Östlin was Member of the Board of the European Institute of Women's Health. Her former positions include Secretary of the Swedish National Public Health Commission, Research Manager and Expert in International Health at the Swedish National Institute of Public Health and Member of Board of the Nordic School of Public Health.

She is the author of several peer-reviewed publications and co-editor of several books, including  Gender  Inequalities  in  Health:  A  Swedish  Perspective,  Harvard  University Press, 2001, Engendering International Health; The Challenge of Equity, MIT Press,  2002, and Gender Equity in Health: The Shifting Frontiers of Evidence and Action, Routledge, 2010.