Forum finalizes Health 2020 policy framework

The third meeting of the European Health Policy Forum of High-level Government Officials took place in Brussels, Belgium on 19–20 April 2012. The Forum advised WHO/Europe on the final shape of the Health 2020 policy framework and three other key documents that will be submitted to the WHO Regional Committee for Europe in September 2012.

The meeting was opened by Zsuzsanna Jakab, WHO Regional Director for Europe, and Laurette Onkelinx, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Social Affairs and Public Health of Belgium.

Health 2020

Representatives of Member States discussed the Health 2020 documents, particularly the short document for high-level policy-makers. They expressed appreciation for the revised version of the document, the Health 2020 development process and the results of the written consultation with Member States. They concluded that the process was well on track for its results to be submitted to WHO’s European governing bodies.

The participants also discussed the issue of Health 2020 targets for the European Region. There was strong agreement from all Member States on six “headline” or overarching European regional targets, which will be monitored and reported on until 2020. An associated menu of indicators will be developed to monitor progress, largely based on data already collected and reported by Member States. Specific suggestions on refining the indicators and supporting monitoring systems will be addressed at an expert meeting in June 2012, with the outcome presented to the Regional Committee.

European review of social determinants and the health divide

The Forum received an overview of the key findings and policy recommendations of the review. This included examples of interventions that address health inequalities in the European Region in areas such as early child care, education and social protection across the life-course. WHO/Europe will publish the final report on the review on its web site in June.

European health report  2012

The participants received a preview of the upcoming flagship publication, the European health report for 2012, which is part of WHO/Europe’s mandate to monitor and report on the health of the 900 million people in the Region. The Regional Committee will discuss an executive summary in September 2012, and publication of the full report is planned for December.   

European Action Plan for Strengthening Public Health Capacities and Services

The current draft of the Action Plan was presented; it includes a revised set of 10 horizontal essential public health operations (EPHOs) as the unifying and guiding basis for European health authorities to set up, monitor and evaluate policies, strategies and actions to strengthen public health. The Action Plan also clarifies the strategic linkages between public health and health care services, particularly primary health care, as foreseen in the holistic approach to health systems articulated in the Tallinn Charter: “Health Systems for Health and Wealth”.

The participants welcomed the Action Plan and the wide consultative process through which it was developed. A version revised on the basis of comments from Member States will be presented to the Standing Committee of the Regional Committee in May.

Other issues

In addition, the participants advised on the further development of the proposed strategy and action plan for healthy ageing and considered how the Policy Forum would operate in the future.

The Regional Director described the Forum’s importance for WHO/Europe, especially in providing guidance on formulating Health 2020.