European Health Information Initiative (EHII)

The European Health Information Initiative (EHII) is a WHO network committed to improving the information that underpins health policies in the European Region. It fosters international cooperation to support the exchange of expertise, build capacity and harmonize processes in data collection and reporting. Stakeholders include Member States, WHO collaborating centres, health information networks and associations such as the European Association of Public Health (EUPHA), and charitable foundations such as the Wellcome Trust. The European Commission and the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) are also active participants. 

EHII works in six key areas:

  1. gathering and analysing information that deepens the understanding of health and well-being, with a focus on indicators;
  2. enhancing access to and dissemination of health information;
  3. building capacity;
  4. strengthening health information networks;
  5. supporting the development of health information strategies; and
  6. communication and advocacy.

EHII's concrete results include:

  • developing the web-based European Health Information Gateway;
  • organizing the annual Autumn School on Health Information and Evidence for Policy-making since 2013;
  • launching the Evidence-informed Policy Network (EVIPNet) Europe;
  • relaunching the Central Asian Republics Health Information Network (CARINFONET); and
  • developing a tool to support assessments of health information systems and to develop and strengthen health information strategies.

Rationale for EHII

Health information is the foundation of strong health systems, as all WHO Member States agreed in a 2007 World Health Assembly resolution. In the European Region, many stakeholders – such as Member States, public health institutes and organizations – are active in this field. 

Nevertheless, much of the evidence and knowledge gathered are still dispersed, incomplete and difficult to access, and health information activities are often funded through ad hoc projects rather than sustainable structures. Large parts of current international data collections are poorly harmonized, resulting in a high reporting burden for Member States and discrepancies in data. Further, health information tends to be poorest where health is the poorest. This inequality in health information across Europe is a problem in itself, as it leads to underestimates of the health inequalities described. 

These problems can only be overcome through strengthened international cooperation, so WHO/Europe and the European Commission made a joint declaration in 2010, agreeing to work towards a single, integrated health information system for the WHO European Region. To broaden international cooperation and to support the development of the European health information system, WHO/Europe established EHII in 2012 with seed funding from the Netherlands' Ministry of Health, Welfare and Sport. The two partners renewed their commitment to work jointly at the 2015 session of the WHO Regional Committee for Europe held in Vilnius.

To learn more or join EHII

Broad membership is a prerequisite for achieving EHII's goals. EHII therefore calls upon all Member States and other health information stakeholders to join. Those interested in learning more about or joining EHII should email DIR@euro.who.int.