Published joint policy briefs and background documentation for the Ministerial Conference on Health Systems

Tallinn, Estonia, 25-27 June 2008

As part of the evidence package for the WHO European Ministerial Conference, a number of policy briefs were made available. These briefs synthesized key evidence and underlined the central themes of the Conference, providing delegates with informed and comprehensive assessments of the policy issues which affect – or are likely to affect – their health systems and decision-making priorities. The Conference focused on the central role of health systems in producing health, and contributing to economic growth and, ultimately, to social welfare, stressing the complementary and reinforcing nature of the relationship. It highlighted the importance of assessing health system performance, and put forward a series of health system strategies and innovations aimed at enhancing performance. These strategies were grouped under six main themes: health and wealth, public health, governance, coordinated care, human resources, and financing.

The policy briefs for the Conference were based on the priorities and interests expressed by the Member States and, from the considerable number of subject areas initially proposed, the topics were identified and developed during two meetings of the External Advisory Board of the Conference, and consultations between the Health Evidence Network of the WHO Regional Office for Europe, the European Observatory on Health Systems and Policies, and experts from Member States. The underlying emphasis in the briefs is on improving health system performance; they highlight innovations and stress policy options that are appropriate to, and possible to implement in, the Member States. This is a key consideration, as countries have different requirements and demands, and a given policy option is unlikely to be relevant or appropriate to all systems and approaches.

Two briefs complement the main studies on health systems produced for the Conference and address the key points and potential messages from each study. Commissioned especially for the Conference, the briefs were made available to all delegates in English, French, German and Russian, and were presented at the Conference.