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Global Health Centre

Supporting Health 2020: Governance for Health in the 21st Century


The interim report “Supporting Health 2020 – Governance for Health in the 21st Century” commissioned by the WHO Regional Office for Europe provides policy makers with examples from around the world of how whole of government and whole of society approaches have been implemented. Furthermore, a set of process tools to manage the complex policy process and best practice examples with model character covering a wide variety of different contexts and countries have been provided in the study.

These examples were related to the priorities areas set by the Health 2020 policy framework and the study particularly aims at contributing to the Health 2020 strategic policy objective of “improving leadership and participatory governance for health”. In this context, health is more and more understood as a product of complex and dynamic relations generated by numerous determinants at different levels of governance. Determinants may be social, but increasingly also political and commercial. Governments need to take into account the impact of this wide variety of health determinants as well as the overall societal conditions including economic constraints, demographic changes and unhealthy lifestyles in many European countries.

A country’s health system alone has neither the capacities nor the adequate steering instruments to solve such multi-dimensional problems in a substantial and comprehensive way. As a consequence, the study seeks to show how shared governance already takes place in many occasions and how values and accountability can be uphold across different sectors and a great variety of stakeholders. Criteria for modern policy-making are established and shown how the bringing together of a variety of different stakeholders may – if managed well – create synergies and be mutually supportive in democratic political systems.