Chapter 3: Capturing the Health 2020 core values

So far, The European health report has, in the main, taken a traditional, quantitative public health epidemiology approach. When Member States adopted Health 2020 in 2012 (EUR/RC62/R4), however, the resolution initiated a shift in public health policy-making in the WHO European Region that explicitly put the core ideals of “fairness, sustainability, quality, transparency, accountability, gender equality, dignity and the right to participate in decision-making” at the centre (5). This valuesbased approach to public health, which advocates people-centred health systems, promotes health throughout the life-course, and strives to achieve equity and health for all, has re-engaged public health with the full complexity of the subjective, lived experience of people and communities.

Such a shift has inevitably challenged traditional, quantitative methods of gathering evidence, such as routine health information or household survey data, which are not well placed to capture subjective experience. Although quantitative data are, of course, an essential component of health information, on their own they are often inadequate to promote the acceptance of evidence-informed practices and policies (42). The European health report 2015 signalled how the WHO Regional Office for Europe was beginning to tackle the challenge of measuring and reporting on some of the key values of Health 2020 (43). In particular, the report focused on well-being measurement, concluding that a more narrative approach, grounded in the local voices of communities, could be adopted to make the reporting more meaningful.

Since then, WHO has started a project on evidence for health and well-being in context, one of the key strands of which is to enhance Health 2020 monitoring and reporting (44, 45). To this end, and with the support of two global research foundations, Wellcome and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, WHO has begun systematically exploring the Health 2020 core values and prioritizing key concepts for which to develop both quantitative and qualitative measurement and reporting strategies.