For more than three years, scientists, civil society organisations and representatives from public health and businesses collaborated to find out how health equity can be improved through action on three of the most important drivers of health: early childhood, employment & working conditions, and income & social protection. As a result of their efforts, which have included many peer-reviewed journal articles and several reports compiling the latest evidence, DRIVERS has identified four principles to guide the development and implementation of policies to improve health and reduce health inequalities.
As outlined by Professor Sir Michael Marmot in a keynote speech, these are:
- Universality of access: for example, provision of affordable, high-quality pre-natal and early years services for all.
- Addressing disadvantage: for example, providing targeted cash transfer programmes, specialist welfare services, and individualised active labour market programme support within a universal social protection system.
- Accounting for context and respecting rights: for example, ensuring that good practices are properly evaluated so they do not lose effectiveness when implemented in new contexts, and respecting the rights of the people concerned.
- Evidence-based policy: for example, making sure that policies are based on established models of good practice and evaluated both in terms of economic and social/health benefits.
The recommendations received broad support and endorsement, including from Nessa Childers MEP (S&D, IE) and Biljana Borzan MEP (S&D, HR). Moreover, several decision makers made concrete commitments to advance them:
- Cristian-Silviu Buºoi MEP (EPP, RO) stated that “DRIVERS is an important step forward in tackling health inequalities”, and indicated his commitment as a member of the European Parliament Committee on the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety (ENVI) to encourage every member state to implement a cross-sectoral strategy to tackle health inequalities.
- Rudi Van Dam (Vice-chair Indicators’ Sub-Group, Social Protection Committee) commented that “DRIVERS’ recommendation are impressive, very detailed, evidence-based, and integrated across the life course… previously the SPC has had to rely on research from the USA but now it can make use of EU evidence”. He proposed organising an event where DRIVERS’ researchers can present their findings and discuss the policy implications in more depth directly with representatives of the member states in the SPC-ISG.
- Eider Gardiazabal Rubial MEP (S&D, ES) pledged to make efforts to ensure that Juncker’s investment package focuses on social investment – an area where DRIVERS’ recommendations and principles can swiftly be put into practice.
- Finally, Ralf Jacob (DG EMPL, European Commission) explained that DRIVERS’ recommendations are in synergy with many of the EC’s policy goals, including social protection and social investment, employment, and health and safety at work, and could help in the development of a Joint Assessment Framework for health. He argued that the Mid-term Evaluation of the 2020 Strategy represents a real opportunity to use the new knowledge so as to inform the European strategy for the next five years.
Stressing the importance of research and evidence-based policy, Caroline Costongs (Managing Director, EuroHealthNet) observed that: “EU-funded research into the key socio-economic factors determining health and well-being in Europe is crucial for developing effective policy responses. EuroHealthNet calls on the European Commission to assure such funding for public health research remains available in new Horizon2020 work programmes”.
- For more information on DRIVERS click here, or contact Claudia Marinetti, EuroHealthNet Research Manager.
Further information and documents
- For more information on EuroHealthNet’s European Centre for Innovation, Research & Implementation in Health & Wellbeing (CIRI), click here.
- To follow the DRIVERS project on Twitter click here.
- read previous news on EAPN’s website: DRIVERS for Health Equity presents its findings and principles for policy and practice that help reduce health inequalities
- News story underlining the main outcomes of the conference (including a photo gallery). We also invite you to visit our Storify page which summarises the conference key messages that were produced via Twitter.
- The key note speech by Sir Michael Marmot can be found here.
- DRIVERS publications (policy recommendations, policy briefs, reports) can be found here. Please note that the policy recommendations and policy briefs are currently being translated into several European languages and will be available shortly.