||European Observatory on Health Systems and Policies
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European Observatory on Health Systems and Policies
Type Intergovernmental organization
Purpose Health policy advice
Headquarters WHO European Centre for Health Policy, Brussels, Belgium
Main organ the World Health Organization
Parent organization WHO Regional Office for Europe
The European Observatory on Health Systems and Policies is an intergovernmental partnership, hosted by the World Health Organization (WHO) Regional Office for Europe, which specialises in the development of health systems within Europe. The partnership includes the Governments of Austria, Belgium, Finland, Ireland, Norway, Slovenia, Sweden and the United Kingdom; the Veneto Region of Italy; the French National Union of Health Insurance Funds (UNCAM); the World Health Organization; the European Commission; the World Bank; the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE); and the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine (LSHTM). The observatory was established in 1998 by Josep Figueras, with colleagues Martin McKee, Elias Mossialos, and Richard Saltman, when Dr Jo E. Asvall, the then WHO Regional Director for Europe, approved its foundation.
The organization is dedicated to supporting evidence-based health policy-making through the analysis and dissemination of information on European health systems and by engaging directly with national policy-makers in order to promote health gain, solidarity, efficiency, quality, responsiveness, transparency, and integrity. It utilises and compares experiences from across Europe to identify and highlight health issues with the intention of encouraging debate, while assisting European powers in taking evidence-based decisions in order to tackle issues affecting public health. The Observatory is composed of a steering committee, core management team, research policy group and staff. Its secretariat is based in Brussels and has offices in London (at LSE and LSHTM) and the Technical University of Berlin, bringing together a wide range of academics, policy-makers and practitioners to analyse trends in health policies and reforms.
The Observatory aims to shape the course of policy development, relying on national powers to act accordingly with the Observatory's findings, which are published in its comprehensive reviews of health systems (Health Systems in Transition or HiTs). The health system profiles, compiled by the Observatory, cover the 53 member states of WHO European Region and several member countries of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). They are used and accessed by a wide international audience interested in comparing European and international health systems and policies. The Observatory recognises the environmental, socio-political and socio-economic influences on health systems and public health, assessing how events such as the recent economic downturn or financial crisis have affected public health across Europe. The Observatory has designed and manages the innovative Health Systems and Policy Monitor platform (HSPM). This platform is a collaborative venture which provides a detailed description of health systems and provides up to date information on reforms and changes that are particularly policy relevant. The platform allows country by country comparisons in key areas of public health.