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European Member States plan for health in 2020


10 Mar 2011


Health & Consumers

WHO launches consultation process on new European health policy and reviews implementation of Tallinn Charter

Copenhagen and Andorra la Vella, 9 March 2011

Governments are facing new and difficult challenges that affect the health of their populations. It is time not only to coordinate a coherent response to the current situation but also to plan for the next 10 years, using the evidence on which approaches and solutions work best. WHO/Europe has been mandated by the 53 Member States in the WHO European Region to develop a new health policy framework for Europe, called Health 2020, and the all-important first consultation on it starts today.

Senior government officials representing the 53 Member States are meeting in Andorra la Vella, Andorra on 9–11 March 2011 to discuss the vision, strategic goals, scope and content of Health 2020, and to share experiences and strategies in implementing the Tallinn Charter: “Health Systems for Health and Wealth”. This first meeting of the European Health Policy Forum for High-Level Government Officials will be hosted by the Ministry of Health, Well-being and Labour of Andorra and opened by Andorran Prime Minister Jaume Bartumeu.

Member States agree that new and innovative policies are needed to deal with the pressing health issues in the European Region in a comprehensive, cost-effective and coordinated way. These issues include the epidemic of obesity, cancer and heart disease; large differences in health status and life expectancy; increasing mental disorders; re-emerging communicable diseases; and the need to plan for emergencies and pandemics. Action to address them has to take account of the impact of factors such as globalization, urbanization, climate change, a larger ageing population and the economic crisis.

What is clear is that health and well-being are affected by the decisions, actions and policies of everybody in society, not just the health sector. Health is one of the key drivers of economic development, so investing in it at every level makes a difference.

“We want Health 2020 to mobilize decision-makers everywhere,” said Ms Zsuzsanna Jakab, WHO Regional Director for Europe. “Governments’ engagement and early feedback are absolutely crucial, as we want this to be a fully participatory policy development process. It is the start of a determined effort to work together for the health and well-being of the people of Europe, both now and in the future, based on the evidence on the causes of ill health and good solutions that make economic sense. At the same time, we also continue our efforts to strengthen health systems and invest more in health protection, disease prevention and health promotion. Europe is truly committed to strengthening health systems and thus the follow-up to the Tallinn Charter is a flagship project for WHO/Europe and the Division of Health Systems and Public Health.“

Health 2020 puts special emphasis on the key role of ministers of health as advocates and catalysts of action for health both within and beyond the boundaries of the health sector. Another positive development is the increasing involvement in decision-making of patients and citizens, who are no longer passive but, thanks to information technology, are more empowered than ever before to take more responsibility for their health in a different relationship with the health system.

“Countries have come here with a keen interest in wide discussions about health systems and public health, because these issues matter and they affect us all “ said Silvia Eloisa Bonet, the Andorran Minister of Health, Wellbeing and Labour, “ Every level and every area of government, from the national to the local, can be involved: this is the start of a unique process, which will build on the commitments made in the Tallinn Charter.”

The Health 2020 framework will be built on the Health for All strategy and other key European health policy frameworks including the Tallinn Charter: “Health Systems for Health and Wealth”. An interim report on the follow-up of the Tallinn Charter commitments will be discussed at the meeting. The report highlights innovative examples of actions by countries and WHO that are consistent with the commitments of the Tallinn Charter, especially in light of the financial crisis. It also emphasizes the need for a rejuvenated effort in public health, and explains how Health 2020 will further many of the key concepts put forward in the Charter.

WHO/Europe recently commissioned a number of studies that will inform Health 2020, including a European review of the social determinants of health and the health divide, led by Sir Michael Marmot, of University College London, United Kingdom; and a study on governance for health in the 21st century, led by Professor Ilona Kickbusch, of the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies, Geneva, Switzerland. Other studies will address other key aspects of the Health 2020 policy framework such as the economics of prevention and an anticipatory analysis of drivers of and trends affecting health.

French, German and Russian versions of this press release will soon be available on the WHO/Europe web site (

With questions about Health 2020, contact:
Agis Tsouros
Head, Policy and Cross-cutting Programmes and Regional Director’s Special Projects
WHO Regional Office for Europe
Scherfigsvej 8
2100 Copenhagen

Tel. + 45 39 17 15 09       

+ 45 39 17 15 09      

+45 23 39 14 84          

+45 23 39 14 84    (mobile)

With questions about the follow-up to the Tallinn Charter: “Health Systems, Health and Wealth”, contact:

Hans Kluge
Director, Division of Health Systems and Public Health, Special Representative of the Regional Director to Prevent and Combat Multi- and Extensively Drug-resistant Tuberculosis (M/XDR-TB) in the WHO European Region

WHO Regional Office for Europe
Scherfigsvej 8
2100 Copenhagen
Tel: +45 39 17 13 96 

 +45 39 17 13 96     

+ 45 51 83 90 62       

+ 45 51 83 90 62       (mobile)

For further information and interview requests, contact:
Viv Taylor Gee
Communications Adviser
WHO Regional Office for Europe
Scherfigsvej 8
2100 Copenhagen

Tel.: +45 39 17 12 31

+45 39 17 12 31 

+45 22 72 36 91     

+45 22 72 36 91      (mobile)

Useful links and documentation:
First meeting of the European Health Policy Forum