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01/06/2007 - Submitted by: Argyro Kazaki

Population health is directly and implicitly included in the social objectives of the EU. Equal distribution of health and wellbeing, among population groups constitute a central pillar for the development of the EU. As a healthy population is also a productive population, health is also a cornerstone of the Lisbon Strategy, aiming at increasing the competitiveness of Europe. These perspectives and objectives underline the fact that health is to a great extent determined by broad social, environmental, economic and cultural determinants that are out of reach of health care services and beyond the mandate of health sector.

Means to tackle the broader determinants of health require intersectorality, cooperation and understanding of the origin and the nature of health. Health is determined by continuous interaction between the individual characteristics of a person, the behaviour of that person and the environment (culture, physical and social environment). The environment either control, set limits or create possibilities to behaviour – by changing the environment, the behaviour is changed.

Environmental interventions have had a crucial role in many of public health’s successes, such as sewage legislation, food and water quality requirements, and the wearing of seat belts. Environmental interventions are often referred to as ‘passive’ interventions since they are not developed in a way that requires people to take any action on an individual basis or to make active behavioural changes (e.g. safe pedestrian and bike paths, smokefree restaurants and injury resistant design). Actions that lead to changes in the environment are generally decided and taken at a societal level that in turn needs political influencing. In general, environmental interventions have a greater chance of having equal effect on all people regardless of gender, income group or other socio-economic status. Environmental and policy interventions, especially those outside the health sector are considered to be an important form of public health action, complementary to more individual forms of intervention such as health education. However, they and other relevant measures and the role of the broader socio-economic, environmental and cultural determinants of health are not fully understood in health or other sectors.

The goal of this project is to show the broad benefits of using all available measures across policies for the improvement and protection of Europeans’ health, and to stimulate the parallel development and implementation of such measures in the EU and its Member States. The purpose is to clarify and concretise the links between policy decisions, impacts on health determinants, health outcomes and their distribution, and demonstrate that in-depth health impact assessment may contribute to the broad social and economic objectives of the EU. The project underlines the links between improved population health and effectively contained future health care costs. The strategic objectives of the project are to raise awareness among decision makers about the added value available from a whole government approach, including improved emphasis on Impact Assessment and in particular Health Impact Assessment; to improve the in-depth Health Impact Assessment process by identifying and addressing existing barriers; and to advocate the political uptake and consideration of impact assessments.

To achieve its goal and objectives the project will build up a network between decision makers and experts, stimulate intersectoral information and experiences exchange, lobby for the greater use of health impact assessment, consult the civil servants from the Member States, EEA, accession and applicant countries (policy dialogues), stimulate the development of practical tools in particular in terms of indicators and surveillance of non-health-sector determinants of health, and collaborate with the WHO. The main principle thorough the project is practical application and implementation.

The full report for this project, alongside other documents including the mental health workshop papers from the Kuopio event and the Council Recommendations on Health In all Policies is available from:

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Project Details

Start Year:
End Year:
Funding Authority:
DG Health and Consumer Affairs
Participating Countries:

Coordinator Details

Sosiaali ja Terveysministeriö - Ministry of Social Affairs and Health - Finland
Meritullinkatu 8
Postal Code:
Contact Person:
Eero Lahtinen

Target Group(s)

Mental health policy makers