A number of global trends are rapidly reshaping the health panorama in the European Region. Some of these are directly related to the disease burden and population health, such as the growing impact of noncommunicable diseases on the mortality burden, or the sometimes unpredictable effects of climate change and environmental pollution on public health. Other trends affect health in more indirect ways; for example, shifting demography has resulted in a mobile, urban and rapidly ageing population.

Other persistent challenges include growing health inequity, scarcity of resources (exacerbated by the financial crisis), development challenges and, too often, weakened health institutions whose influence does not extend to intersectoral arenas where it is particularly needed.

Finally, while advances in technology and communications have led to increased health care costs and heightened pressure for transparent governance, they have also increased public involvement in health issues and provided unprecedented opportunities for integration and collaboration between diverse actors.

In this context, national health authorities and WHO/Europe come together to chart a course for collaborative action to address shared challenges.