What are the key components of Health 2020?


Health 2020 is based on the values enshrined in the WHO Constitution: the highest attainable standard of health as a human right. It acknowledges the interconnectedness of local, national, regional and global health actors, actions and challenges, and recommends a unity of approach and the adoption of a common outcome-focused Region-wide policy framework. It provides a clear mapping of the options and tradeoffs in taking action to improve health and reduce inequities.

Health development

Health is a resource that enables every person to realize his or her potential and to contribute to the overall development of society. The new policy framework does not imply that health is everything or the only aspect of life to be valued – societies and individuals have many goals. Yet health is crucial as a means to achieve other goals in life. Poor health wastes potential, causes despair and drains resources across all sectors of society.


The policy framework presents ways in which policy-makers can more effectively and efficiently address today’s social, demographic, epidemiological and financial challenges, by resetting priorities, catalyzing action in other sectors, and adopting new approaches to organizing the health sector with other stakeholders.


Many partners need to come together to achieve better and more equitable health and well-being, and health is the responsibility of the whole of society and the whole of government. The policy framework is designed to help overcome some of the principal barriers that have so far held back those with an interest in health. It provides a vision, a strategic path, a set of priorities and a range of suggestions to show what works in engaging stakeholders, based on research and experience in many countries.

Equity focus

The policy framework suggests new ways to identify important health gaps and focus individual and collective efforts on ways to reduce them. It shows how progress has been most successful in countries that provide affordable care and social safety nets through strong public services and sustainable public finances.

Evidence base

Health 2020 builds on the experiences gained from previous health for all policies and is supported by a wealth of evidence gathered in both traditional and emerging health policy areas.

Strategic thinking

The policy framework recognizes that governments can achieve real improvements in health if they work across government to fulfil two linked strategic objectives.

The two strategic objectives are:

  • improving health for all and reducing health inequalities
  • improving leadership and participatory governance for health.