ⓘ EuroHealthNet is a non-profit partnership of organisations, agencies and statutory bodies working to contribute to a healthier Europe by promoting health and he ..


ⓘ EuroHealthNet

EuroHealthNet is a non-profit partnership of organisations, agencies and statutory bodies working to contribute to a healthier Europe by promoting health and health equity between and within European countries. EuroHealthNet achieves this through its partnership framework by supporting members’ work in EU and associated states through policy and project development, networking and communications. The network’s office has been located in Brussels since 1996 and staff members are experienced in engaging with the EU institutions, decision makers and a large number of stakeholders from public authorities, civil society, the corporate sector and academia. EuroHealthNet has connections with national and regional governments, as well as with the European institutions, and therefore a good understanding of how evidence and information on health equity can be introduced in current policy making agendas.

The secretariat of around ten staff is based in Brussels and supports the partnership, which operates in three closely interlinked platforms:

  • EuroHealthNet POLICY
  • EuroHealthNet RESEARCH
  • EuroHealthNet PRACTICE

1. Health inequalities and inequities in Europe

Health inequalities can be defined as" systematic differences in health between social groups” and populations. Health inequities, on the other hand, are unfair," avoidable inequalities” of populations within and between countries. The WHO’s Committee on the Social Determinants of Health stated that the social gradient, - systematic differences between populations - was unfair;" killing people on a grand scale”.

Perhaps the clearest example of health inequalities can be seen in life expectancy. The difference between life expectancy at birth can vary by over a decade between European Union member states. For example, in 2012 the life expectancy at birth for Swedish males is 81 years, whereas in Lithuania a baby born could expect to only live until 68.4. In terms of healthy life years of life lived without disability the gap is even greater, with Estonian males born in 2012 predicted to have 18.4 fewer healthy life years than their Maltese counterparts. These disparities in life expectancy don’t just exist at the macro scale, but can be seen right down to the neighbourhood level; with differences reaching into the decades. Such disparities are found worldwide, with a whole area of research looking at demographics and improving life expectancy.


2. EU Health Policy

Inequalities in health have been an important part of the work of the European Union EU since 1992 when specific competencies for public health were included in the Maastricht Treaty. However, as noted above large differences in health still exist between and within all countries in the EU, and some of these inequalities are widening. The EU institutions contribute to reducing health inequalities across the social gradient through a variety of strategies, policies, programmes and initiatives which affect the socio-economic determinants of health.

The Health programmes, the latest being 2014-2020, are one of the Commission’s main instruments for implementing policies aimed at reducing health inequalities. In 2009 the European Commission recognised the challenges and importance of reducing health inequities. In June 2010 the EU adopted its new strategy - Europe 2020: A strategy for smart, sustainable and inclusive growth. The document sets out the proposed economic, social and environmental development for the EU over the next 10 years. Although the strategy does not directly address health inequalities, it clearly acknowledges the need to fight inequalities as a prerequisite for growth and competitiveness. The EU has indeed committed to lift 20 million people out of poverty by 2020. This will be pursued through the European platform against poverty and social exclusion, one of the Commission’s seven flagship initiatives’ i.e. the mechanisms through which the EU 2020 strategy will be delivered. This process will undoubtedly impact health inequalities between and within EU countries.


3. EuroHealthNet’s Mission

EuroHealthNet seeks to address the factors that shape health and social inequalities, building the evidence base for public health and health-related policies and health promotion interventions in particular to level up the social gradient in health. The enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of health is one of the fundamental rights of every human being without distinction of race, religion, economic or social condition. EuroHealthNet therefore stimulates and supports the implementation of integrated approaches addressing the social determinants of health by operating at all levels and across the political spectrum in relevant health, social and employment fields.

Areas of work

  • Childhood development
  • Social protection
  • Health literacy
  • Evidence-based policy making
  • Chronic diseases
  • Mental health
  • Sustainable lifestyles
  • Health equity
  • Ageing


4. Projects

  • IROHLA 2012-2015 Identifying, validating and presenting evidence based guidelines on addressing health literacy needs of the ageing population in Europe
  • CHRODIS PLUS 2017-2020 CHRODIS PLUS is a high-level response by the EU to support Member States by stepping up together and sharing good practices to alleviate the burden of chronic diseases.
  • Spread 2011-2012 Development of scenarios of sustainable lifestyles in 2050 focusing on sustainable living, moving, consuming and healthy living
  • Determine 2007-2010 An EU wide initiative to stimulate action to address the social and economic determinants of health SDH and to improve health equity in the EU and its Member States
  • CHRODIS 2014-2017 European Joint Action on Chronic Diseases and Promoting Healthy Ageing across the Life Cycle CHRODIS-JA
  • Crossing Bridges 2011-2012 Advancing the implementation of Health in all Policies HiAP approaches in EU Member States
  • Equity Action 2011-2014 Assisting the Member States to develop tools to better enable health inequalities to be addressed in cross-government policy making
  • INHERIT 2016-2019 INter-sectoral Health and Environment Research for InnovaTion INHERIT
  • Joint Action Health Equity Europe JAHEE. JAHEE is a collaborative action between 25 European countries financed by the third Health Programme 2014-2020, a funding programme managed by the Directorate-General for Health and Food Safety DG SANTE and the Consumers, Health, Agriculture and Food Executive Agency CHAFEA.
  • Quality Action 2013-2016 Using practical Quality Assurance QA and Quality Improvement QI tools to increase the effectiveness of HIV prevention in Europe
  • GRADIENT 2009-2012 Identifying and evaluating policies which could level-up the socio-economic gradients in health among children and young people in the EU
  • DRIVERS 2012-2015 Addressing the strategic determinants to reduce health Inequity Via 1) Early childhood development, 2) Realising fair employment, and 3) Social protection

5. Funding

EuroHealthNet is a non-profit partnership and receives funding from:

  • Its members and associate members through specific grants or donations
  • The European Commission for co-funded work in Framework Contracts, specific policy or research projects, Joint Actions, tenders, studies and reports
  • DG Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion DG EMPL through the Employment and Social Innovation EaSI financing instrument
  • Its members and associate members in annual fees decided by the General Council

6. EuroHealthNet Members

Members are national and regional institutes, academic and research centres, national and regional authorities and government departments. They operate networks in their communities comprising regional and local authorities, practitioners and professional bodies and non-profit organisations, and have wide communications and consultation links with wider stakeholders. Members receive core services but also participate in the three EuroHealthNet platforms.

  • Sweden: Region Stockholm
  • Finland: National Institute for Health and Welfare THL
  • Italy: Veneto Region
  • Latvia: The Centre for Disease Prevention and Control CDPC of Latvia
  • Netherlands: Pharos Dutch centre of expertise on health disparities
  • Italy: Piedmont Regional Health Promotion Documentation Center DoRS
  • Italy: Tuscany Region
  • Norway: Norwegian Directorate of Health
  • Belgium: Agency for a Life of Quality AVIQ
  • Germany: Federal Centre for Health Education BZgA
  • Italy: National Institute of Public Health ISS
  • England: The Health and Europe Centre, NHS Kent & Medway
  • Luxembourg: Luxembourg Institute of Health
  • Sweden: Public Health Agency of Sweden
  • Netherlands: National Institute for Public Health and the Environment RIVM
  • Slovenia: National Institute of Public Health NIJZ
  • Spain: University of La Laguna
  • Scotland: NHS Health Scotland
  • Bulgaria: National Center of Public Health and Analyses NCPHA
  • Wales: Public Health Wales
  • Austria: Austrian Health Promotion Foundation FGOE
  • Sweden: Public Health Committee - Region Vastra Gotaland
  • Luxembourg: Luxembourg Institute of Socio-Economic Research
  • Italy: Regional Healthcare and Social Affairs Agency of Puglia
  • Italy: Federsanita ANCI
  • Spain: Ministry of Health, Consumer Affairs and Social Welfare
  • Belgium: Flanders Institute for Healthy Living
  • Latvia: Riga City Council Department of Welfare
  • France: National French Agency of Public Health
  • Ireland: Institute of Public Health in Ireland IPH
  • Poland: National Institute of Public Health - National Institute of Hygiene
  • Slovakia: Ministry of Health of the Slovak Republic, Section of Health
  • Denmark: Zealand Region
  • Czech Republic: National Institute of Public Health SZU
  • Hungary: National Public Health Center
  • Greece: Institute of Preventive Medicine Environmental and Occupational Health PROLEPSIS
  • Finland: Finnish Federation for Social Affairs and Health SOSTE
  • Portugal: National Institute of Health Doutor Ricardo Jorge


7. Associate Members in EuroHealthNet RESEARCH

RESEARCH is EuroHealthNet’s research-oriented platform. It aims to promote evidence-based approaches to health and wellbeing across all groups in society. Associate Members include leading centres of research and public health who are committed to improving the uptake of evidence in policy making processes.

  • Italy: Venices Community Social Cooperative Company
  • Netherlands: Netherlands Institute of Mental Health and Addiction Trimbos Institute
  • England: Blackburn with Darwen Borough Council, Public Health Department
  • Portugal: University Institute of Lisbon, Centre for Psychological Research and Social Intervention
  • Belgium: Universite catholique de Louvain, Institute of Health and Society
  • Netherlands: Radboud University Medical Center
  • Spain: University of La Laguna
  • Sweden: Swedish Association of Local Authorities and Regions SALAR
  • North Macedonia: Institute of Public Health of the Republic of North Macedonia
  • England: University of Brighton, School of Health Sciences
  • Norway: Norwegian University of Science and Technology, Faculty of Social Sciences and Technology Management
  • England: Newcastle University, Institute of Health and Society
  • Denmark: Roskilde University
  • Norway: Oslo Metropolitan University


8. Associate Members in EuroHealthNet POLICY

POLICY is EuroHealthNet’s advocacy and policy-oriented platform and brings together organisations willing to work on addressing the wider determinants of health.

  • Sweden: Swedish Association of Local Authorities and Regions SALAR
  • Netherlands: FNO zorg voor kansen
  • Netherlands: Dutch Association of Mental Health and Addiction Care GGZ Nederlands
  • England: The Health Foundation

9. Associate Members in EuroHealthNet PRACTICE

PRACTICE is EuroHealthNets platform to help build capacities for the design and implementation of strategies and interventions to improve health, address the social determinants of health and reduce health inequalities.

  • France: Appic-Sante
  • Netherlands: Radboud University Medical Center
  • Italy: Association Pianoterra
  • England: The Health Foundation
  • Portugal: Nossa Senhora do Bom Sucesso Foundation

10. Observers to the EuroHealthNet Partnership

The EuroHealthNet partnership invites ministerial and governmental bodies to participate in a limited, non-voting capacity.

  • Lithuania:Ministry of Health Lithuania
  • Belgium: Federal Public Service - Health, Food Chain Safety and Environment
  • United Kingdom: Department of Health
  • Romania: Ministry of Health
  • Malta: Public Health Regulation Department