EuroHealthNet is a not-for-profit partnership of organisations, agencies and statutory bodies working on public health, disease prevention, promoting health, and reducing inequalities. Several research centres are also part of our partnership.
We work on public health and social equity policy, practice, and research.
We also explore and strengthen the links between them. Our approach focuses on health in all policies, reducing health inequalities gaps and gradients, working on determinants across the life course, and sustainability.
This annual report describes our activities between June 2018 and May 2019.
The EuroHealthNet partnership includes 61 members, associate members, and observers. They come from 28 European countries, including 24 EU Member States. They steer the work of the Brussels office through three collaborating platforms: Practice, Policy, and Research. A core team works to unite and amplify the platforms’ work. The partnership is governed by the General Council, which comprises all partners, and the Executive Board.
Read more about our structure, areas of work, and financing in the ‘How we work’ section.
Despite progress, health inequalities exist and persist in Europe between people facing different social and economic situations, as well as within and between countries.
Among the 20% richest Europeans, only 3.9% describe their health as bad or very bad. This compares to the 13.2% of the poorest who feel the same.1 Low-income households are still five times more likely to report unmet care needs than high-income households, mainly for financial reasons.2
There are big differences in life expectancy between European countries. Life expectancy ranges from 83.3 years and 83.2 years in Spain and Italy respectively, to 74.5 years in Latvia and Bulgaria. Within countries there are also large regional differences in health status.
These inequalities cost €980 billion per year, or 9.4 percent of European GDP, as a result of lower productivity and higher healthcare and welfare costs.3
These health inequalities can be reduced. EuroHealthNet’s vision is of a society in which all citizens enjoy their fundamental right to the highest attainable standard of health, without distinction of race, religion, or economic or social condition.
Addressing the determinants of health is an effective and efficient way of reducing inequalities and improving standards of health, quality of life, and levels of wellbeing.
Most health outcomes are the result of the conditions in which we are born, live, grow, work and age. By addressing and improving those conditions, we can better prevent ill health and promote the best possible health outcomes for individuals. We need to address the communities, societies, and systems which shape our lives and our health.
It is estimated that 790,000 people in EU countries died prematurely in 2016 due to just four risk factors: tobacco smoking, harmful consumption of alcohol, unhealthy diets, and lack of physical activity. More than 1,200,000 deaths could have been avoided in EU countries in 2015 through better public health policies or more effective and timely health care.4
EuroHealthNet believes that investing in health and more equitable societies pays off, and that integrated policy objectives which are aligned with the UN Sustainable Development Goals are the best way to achieve improved health, wellbeing, and equity.
The term ‘health’ refers to both physical and mental health, which are interlinked. EuroHealthNet upholds the values of equity, justice, community engagement, and empowerment of women and men, which lie at the heart of health promotion.
1 Self-perceived health by sex, age, and income; Eurostat (2017 data)
2 Inequalities in access to healthcare: A study of national policies; European Social Policy Network (2018)
3 Mackenbach, J.P., Meerding, W.J. & Kunst, A.E., 2011. Economic Costs of Health Inequalities in the European Union. Journal of Epidemiology & Community Health, 65(5), pp.412-419
4 Health at a Glance: Europe 2018; European Commission / OECD
At the EuroHealthNet General Council Meeting in June 2018, Dr Mojca Gabrijelčič Blenkuš (Senior Adviser, National Institute of Public Health (NIJZ), Slovenia) was elected president. A new Executive Board was also elected.
January 2018 saw the start of our new, four-year framework contract with the European Commission, through the EU Programme for Employment and Social Innovation (EaSI). Under this contract, each year our work will focus on a different topic: in 2018 we assessed and made progress on our core priorities; in 2019 we are focusing on children and young people.
Over the last 12 months we have examined novel ways health promotion and prevention can be financed, as well as financing for initiatives that reduce health inequalities.
This year we produced our first podcast about ‘The effects of the gig economy on young people’s mental health’ for the EU Mental Health Alliance – Employment and Work. We also published a video called ‘1,000 lifechanging days’ which explains the importance of early experiences on health and wellbeing.
A new network of communication departments was established to improve the exchange of information around the partnership, to strengthen the flow of information between European, national, and regional levels.
In April 2019 we started working as a partner of the Centre for Global Health Inequalities Research (CHAIN) based at NTNU, Norway. We also joined the EU Joint Action on Health Inequalities (JAHEE) to provide support for knowledge building via communication and advocacy.
EuroHealthNet moved into a new more modern and healthier office in July 2018. Our new premises give members the opportunity to have an office space in Brussels whenever they need, and is much better suited to our growing team.
Five new colleagues strengthened the team this year. 2 new member, 5 new associate members, and one observer joined us.
It is my pleasure to address you as the EuroHealthNet president in the annual report for the first time. Serving on the board for the last 10 years has been a great opportunity to learn and to share knowledge, and I am proud to feel part of EuroHealthNet’s successful development story.
My National Institute of Public Health (NIJZ, Slovenia) became a member of EuroHealthNet in 2004, while the country was joining the EU. Since then we have learned a lot about European structures and functions. We now have a good understanding of how international and European action can address health inequalities. More and more of my colleagues at NIJZ are becoming interested and involved in EuroHealthNet’s work- following Alerts on Calls and Opportunities, reading the Health Highlights newsletter, and taking part in joint project applications, Country Exchange Visits, and different workshops and seminars.
Sustainability is an approach we apply to all our work, which is why the theme of this year’s report is pathways to sustainability.
Sustainable development means building an inclusive, sustainable, and resilient future for people and planet. It is an approach which sees social inclusion, economic stability, and the well-being of individuals and society as interconnected. It means a new way to reducing health inequalities and fostering health equity. It is an agenda for action at local, national, and international level.
In this report we describe our different pathways towards sustainability: a sustainable organisational structure for EuroHealthNet; how we are helping to apply the approach to our three platforms of Policy, Research, and Practice; and how to ensure financial sustainability for health promotion and health equity initiatives.
Within EuroHealthNet we have created numerous opportunities for sharing, learning, joining forces and informing each other over the last decades. These are important services for members of our partnership: Europe’s leading public bodies addressing public health, health inequalities, and the determinants of health.
The EuroHealthNet board faces a challenge: developing our strategy for the period 2020 – 2027. This is not an easy task in such a rapidly changing world. We see that we are moving quickly to a new digital reality, which will bring new challenges and opportunities. At the same time inequalities among citizens, regions, and countries seem bigger than ever. Community solidarity as a value seems to be declining.
In the last year, we have introduced so many new initiatives that they are given their own section in the report. One important development is the new communication group, which will encourage harmonised, concrete, and to-the-point communication between institutes across Europe concerning their actions on health promotion and health equity.
Advocating for health, equity and wellbeing will be of crucial importance in the coming years. What differentiates EuroHealthNet from other health advocating voices is our unique membership: we are composed of the most competent public health and health promotion bodies in the EU. We develop science, shift paradigms, prioritise and communicate priority public health challenges, and link stakeholders. We advise, advocate for, and at the same time create sound health systems. Our main challenge is to address the causes of the causes, the real drivers of inequity and lost health.
The range of inequity and the environmental situation leave no place for inertia. We must act. By joining forces within EuroHealthNet we can.
The REJUVENATE Statement and Framework has been developed since 2016 by EuroHealthNet to contribute towards the implementation of the global Sustainable Development Goals through modern health promotion approaches. It is composed of ten steps to promote health in a rapidly changing world to create a healthier, more equitable and sustainable future.
The ten REJUVENATE elements are still as important as ever. They are woven into all our work and can be found throughout the report.