Strengthening public health capacity and services in Europe. A concept paper



This paper, jointly developed by Durham University and WHO Europe, was written to inform ”Strengthening Public Health Capacities and Services in Europe: a Framework for Action”, which will accompany Health2020, the new European Health Strategy. It explores the contested nature of public health and the complexity of contemporary public health challenges. These have implications for the ways in which health systems and public health systems are understood and defined as well as for relationships between them. Stewardship of the health of the population and the values of equity and social justice underpin concepts of ‘good governance’; they are also fundamental to public health practice and public health services are most effective where there is congruence between them. Complex public health challenges, such as persistent health inequalities or rising rates of obesity, require systems thinking, new approaches to knowledge exchange and to coalition building - skills of increasing importance for a 21st century public health workforce. This paper explores the implications of these issues in the context of developing an action framework for public health across Europe.