24th annual meeting of the WHO Regions for Health Network – building a healthier future for all: a role to play for everyone


Jointly organized by the WHO European Office for Investment for Health and Development of the WHO Regional Office for Europe and the Västra Götaland Region in Sweden, the 24th annual meeting of the WHO Regions for Health Network (RHN) was held on 10–12 June 2018 in Marstrand and Gothenburg (Västra Götaland), Sweden. Representatives of 36 regions in 33 European countries were among those taking part. The event provided RHN members with an opportunity to enhance dialogue and foster bilateral and multilateral collaboration, with a specific focus on action towards achievement of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the promotion of supportive environments. It reinforced the sense of belonging to a network that speaks with one voice on behalf of the subnational (regional) level.

The overall purpose of the meeting was to provide an update on action taken to implement the 2030 Agenda and selected priorities of the WHO Regional Office for Europe. It aimed to:

  • provide participants with a comprehensive overview of all RHN members, including information about their strengths and challenges, as well as possible areas of collaboration;
  • provide in-depth information about specific WHO core themes;
  • provide an ideal setting for the exchange of best practice and mutual learning;
  • identify best practice across the regions for inclusion in forthcoming publications in the RHN case-study series;
  • launch the most recent RHN publications;
  • identify RHN priorities for 2019–2020.

The programme included: interactive pitch presentations on the recent and forthcoming activities of the Network, which encouraged creativity and dialogue among the participants; group discussions on topics, such as implementation of the 2030 Agenda at the subnational level and the status of forthcoming WHO European Health Equity Status Report and strategy on men’s health; a role-playing exercise on the soft skills required to accelerate progress towards achieving the SDGs; and frontal sessions focusing on topics, such as progress in implementing the 2030 Agenda at the national, regional and local level, investment for health, and education and health.

The locations for the event – Marstrand in the iconic Gothenburg archipelago, and the Musuem of World Culture in Gothenburg – were chosen with purpose, both providing optimal environments for awareness-raising and peer-to-peer exchanges and inspiration. The latter was the setting of the 2017 cinema film, “The Square”, famous for its denouncement of inequality and the social exclusion and stereotyping of migrant populations.

Two RHN publications were launched, illustrating the strengths, challenges and aspirations of – and some of the inspiring practice taking place in – the regions participating in the Network:

  • “Regions for Health Network: Catalogue of Regions 2018”, a tool for strengthening bilateral and multilateral collaboration among the regions ;
  • “Healthy settings for older people are healthy settings for all. The experience of Friuli Venezia Giulia, Italy” (RHN case studies series).

The 25th annual meeting of RHN will be held in Maastricht, Netherlands (Meuse-Rhine Euroregion), on 26–28 June 2019.


Since its establishment in 1992, the WHO Regions for Health Network (RHN) has worked to facilitate the exchange of promising practice and know-how in, and develop synergy for, the promotion of health and the reduction of health inequity at the subnational (regional) level. The significant progress made by the Network over the years has proven its added value in terms of leadership, capacity-building and the creation of partnerships. With Health 2020, the European policy for health and well-being, and the United Nations 2030 Agenda on Sustainable Development as its reference frameworks, RHN has become a respected authority in the international public health arena, projecting the subnational voice at national, international and global events.