Why Health 2020?

The new policy framework of Health 2020 is needed because Europe is changing in many ways that affect health and demand new ways of thinking and acting.

Changing health contexts

All countries are being challenged by major social, economic, environmental and demographic shifts. National as well as local health policy-makers often lack the authority and instruments to lead a coherent integrated approach to these important challenges.

Widening health gaps

While the WHO European Region as a whole has seen important improvements in people’s health over the last few decades, these improvements have not been experienced everywhere and equally by all. Significant inequalities in health remain and in many places they are getting worse.

Advancing well-being

Public policy needs, such as the drive for greater competitiveness, are not ends in themselves but rather the means to an end – namely, the well-being of Europe’s citizens. Social progress is increasingly measured by social cohesion, respect for diversity, security, work–life balance, good health and good education.

Challenging economic times

At a time when resources are stretched across the Region, a common framework means that learning from different countries can be brought together for the benefit of each one.

Standing up for public health values and rights

Health 2020 is based on the values enshrined in the WHO Constitution, to ensure “the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of health” as a fundamental human right of all in the European Region. As European welfare states are restructured, there is a need for constant vigilance and the active promotion of a values- and rights-based policy.