"Health Systems, Health and Wealth"

25-27 June 2008, Tallinn, Estonia

Health and wealth are intrinsically entwined. The wealthier we are as individuals and as countries, and the better our working and living conditions, the more likely we are to enjoy good health. Good health also contributes to economic development and wealth at both the individual and the national levels. If we are healthy, we are more likely to be in work and be productive, less likely to retire early and, of course, be happier. So, investing in effective health systems should improve people’s health, leading  in turn to economic development and greater social well-being.

The Tallinn Conference, organized by WHO/Europe and hosted by the Government of Estonia, was convened to address the interaction between health and wealth. It became a major turning point in the evolution of public health, as it specifically:

  • led to a better understanding of the impact of health systems on people’s health and therefore on economic growth in the WHO European Region; and
  • took stock of recent evidence on effective strategies to improve the performance of health systems, given the increasing pressure on them to ensure sustainability and solidarity.

Over 500 participants attended, including ministers responsible for health, civil affairs, and finance and economic affairs from 52 of the 53 Member States in the WHO European Region, internationally recognized experts on health systems and representatives of international and civil-society organizations and the mass media.

At the Conference, WHO/Europe, Member States and a range of international partners adopted the Tallinn Charter: Health Systems for Health and Wealth. The Charter provides guidance and a strategic framework for strengthening health systems in the WHO European Region. It was endorsed by all European Member States at the WHO Regional Committee for Europe’s session in Tbilisi in September 2008, through resolution EUR/RC58/R4.