Delegates at World Health Assembly agree on new 5-year strategic plan

World Health Assembly delegates have agreed on an ambitious new strategic plan for the next 5 years. The WHO’s 13th General Programme of Work (GPW) is designed to help the world achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) – with a particular focus on SDG3: ensuring healthy lives and promoting well-being for all at all ages by 2030.

The GPW sets 3 targets: to ensure that by 2023, 1 billion more people benefit from universal health coverage; 1 billion more people are better protected from health emergencies; and 1 billion more people enjoy better health and well-being. WHO estimates that achieving this “triple billion” target could save 29 million lives.

To read more about the new 5-year strategic plan on the WHO Europe website go to:

Multidisciplinary primary care teams in Spain 

Multidisciplinary care is a game-changing approach, considered an alternative to traditional institutionalised care. It makes the best use of the skills mix of the health workforce: multiprofile teams include family doctors, paediatricians, dentists, primary care nurses, nurse aides, social workers and health administrative staff. Health workers interact closely with patients and families, draw up patient-specific treatment plans and share responsibility for decisions on the patient’s health.

Since introducing these multiprofessional teams, Spain has seen a continuous improvement in the management of noncommunicable diseases, particularly diabetes mellitus and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. The country now plans to link these multidisciplinary care teams with social services and emergencies, further improving the delivery of person-centred care.

To read more about this go to:

Health systems performance review

Assessing the performance of health systems is essential to understanding how they work, and therefore to improving them. It is a complex process that involves statistical measurements, deep analysis and development of practical actions. Sound health system performance assessment (HSPA) is achieved through the joint actions of different players, including policy-makers, statistical institutes, researchers, healthcare providers, and patients.

HSPA provides a strong evidence-based approach to policy making. It may also serve as a strategic framework for health providers to monitor progress and assess best practices, by linking health outcomes to the strategies and functions of the health system.

To read more about performance reviews of health systems go to: Overview – European Commission

2017 Report on the French population health

Santé Publique France and the DREES have published a summary of the 2017 report on  French Population Health in English. Socio-territorial health inequalities are mapped by examining several morbidity and mortality indicators, and the social disadvantage index of different areas. Life expectancy in France is high compared to many Member States: 80.5 years for women and 78.9 years for men.

In the last 10 years, life expectancy has increased by 1.2 years and 2.2 years for each gender respectively. The most common causes of death are cancer and cardiovascular disease. The prevalence of chronic diseases is high and rising. The incidence of mental disorders is also high.

To read more about the state of health in France and other EU countries go to:

Learning from Ireland: expanding the role of nurses and midwives to improve health outcomes

A survey that included 32 countries in Europe in 2015 found that more than two thirds had extended the official scopes of practice of nurses in primary care. Ireland is one of those countries. 

As of April 2016, a total of 894 nurses and midwives in the country were registered to prescribe medicinal products. This includes 193 advanced nurse practitioners in 53 specialties and 8 advanced midwife practitioners in 6 specialties, all registered with the Nursing and Midwifery Board of Ireland. It is not necessary to be an advanced practitioner to prescribe. 

While the overall number of prescribing nurses and midwives has remained small in numerical terms since the introduction of the regulations in 2008, the impact has been significant. An independent evaluation reported that expanding nurse roles in Ireland has led to, among other things: 

  • improved continuity of patient care;
  • reduced admission rates;
  • reduced workload of doctors;
  • reduced waiting times for services;
  • improved family and carer satisfaction; and
  • increased professional development and satisfaction of nurses and midwives

To read more about expanding the role of nurses and midwives on the WHO Europe website go to: WHO/Europe | Health workforce – Learning from Ireland: expanding the role of nurses and midwives to improve health outcomes

Integrating health and social care in Greece

Integrated health and social services will soon become reality in Greece, with the city of Ioannina set to pilot a new model of service integration to better meet the needs of its people.

Experts from WHO/Europe and the Greek Ministry of Health discussed the piloting of integrated services at a local policy dialogue in Ioannina, bringing together key stakeholders from health and social services, the city’s university, and local authorities. The event helped participants, who were eager to see the city set an example, to reach consensus.

Integrated health services delivery is an approach that emphasises, among other things, the provision of services through multidisciplinary teams that include general practitioners, nurses, social workers and other professionals across various settings and levels of care.

To read more about this on the WHO Europe website go to:

Discovering who misses out on health: the example of Indonesia

Using Indonesia as an example, the World Health Organization (WHO) showcases a range of tools for gathering data needed about the health state of all population subgroups including the most disadvantaged.

In Indonesia in 2012, immunization programs had eliminated tetanus in three of the sprawling archipelago’s four regions, but lower vaccination rates in the poorest West Papua region meant that the disease remained a major threat there.

One of the key products in the package is the Health Equity Assessment Toolkit (HEAT), a software application which was launched by WHO last year. It enables countries to analyse, interpret and report data on health inequalities in order to shed light on where investments are needed to expand services to those who don’t have them and to improve their health.

Find out more about the the Health Equity Assessment Toolkit on the website.

Assessing pricing models for innovative medicines, access to healthcare and performance of primary care

The Expert Panel on effective ways of investing in health is preparing three opinions on priority topics of the EU health strategy: payment models for high-cost medicines, access to healthcare and the performance of primary care. The opinions will be ready in the second semester of 2017 and will feed into the further policy work of the Commission.

In the EU, the pharmaceutical legislation lays down harmonised regulatory standards and tools for the authorisation and supervision of medicines. However, efforts to invest on development and timely authorisation of innovative medicines face challenges, such as the sustainability of health systems, patient access and affordability.

In April 2017 the European Commission published a recommendation establishing the European Pillar of Social Rights. The recommendation includes a principle on access to good quality preventive and curative health care.


Strong primary care can contribute to consolidating the overall health system’s performance by providing affordable and accessible care, guiding patients through the health system to find the most appropriate care (substantially reducing avoidable hospital admissions), focusing on individual needs and offering tailored, patient-centred care.

For more information on the assessment of pricing models for innovative medicines, access to healthcare and performance of primary care from





International comparisions of health prices and volumes

Cross-country variation in health expenditure may be the result of differences in the prices of goods and services or differences in the volume of care, or a mix of both. Separating health spending into volume and price measures helps policy makers better understand the drivers of cross-country variations, and helps them decide what policy responses should be put in place to address health spending trends. Such policies may differ if, for example, a country’s high health care spending is due to relatively high volume of goods and services consumed or to the relatively high price a country pays for those goods or services.

The OECD have recently published new findings on these international comparisons.

To download the document on International comparisons of health prices and volumes from the website

National mental health strategy in Sweden

The Swedish government has introduced a new national mental health strategy for 2016-2020. It is based on five focus areas identified as the most important to strengthen mental health and prevent mental illness:

  1. Prevention and promotion efforts
  2.  Accessible early interventions
  3. Focus on vulnerable groups
  4. Participation and rights
  5. Organization and leadership

Each focus area includes people of all ages – children, young people, adults, and the elderly. Just as the focus areas were developed in collaboration between many different stakeholders, the government emphasises that all development work in the field must be conducted simultaneously and collaboratively. The Public Health Agency of Sweden plays a leading role in this effort.

For more information about Sweden’s National Mental Health Strategy on the website