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EU health programme to undergo assessment

The EU's public health programme is to have a check-up of its own, half-way through its projected six year run. The Community action programme for public health was set-up to 'address in a coordinated and coherent way the concerns of its people about risks to health and their ...

The EU's public health programme is to have a check-up of its own, half-way through its projected six year run. The Community action programme for public health was set-up to 'address in a coordinated and coherent way the concerns of its people about risks to health and their expectations for a high level of health protection'. The current evaluation, to take up much of 2006, is there to obtain independent, evidence-based information on the implementation and achievement of the programme. The programme is implemented by the Health and Consumer Protection DG of the European Commission. The evaluation will look for three things: the impact of the programme and how much added value it gives to EU citizens and Member States; evidence that the programme is working efficiently and sustainably; an indication that the programme is consistent with other EU measures, including the Sixth Framework Programme (FP6). The results are expected in late 2006, and will feed into any further EU research into public health. According to a report outlining the steps that the research will take, and prepared by think-tank RAND Europe, while 'public health practitioners recognise the wide range of factors that influence the health status of a population, and how these interact in complex ways [...] connections linking policy inputs to health outcomes may be complex and extended, and will involve considerable time lags.' In order to take these factors into account, 'Evaluations must be sensitive to the complexities created by multi-agency interventions.' Under the treaties of Maastricht and Amsterdam, the EU is responsible for ensuring that the EU activity provides health protection, helping Member States to coordinate their work and collaborate, take action on 'threats' to health, and set standards in common areas, such as pharmaceuticals. The 1993 Framework for Action in the Field of Public Health sought to address these responsibilities. The framework put its resources into three areas: improved health knowledge, rapid responses to health threats and health promotion through addressing health determinants. The research will essentially attempt to answer a series of questions posed by this research. These ask how relevant, how effective, how efficient, how consistent and how acceptable the EU's policy has been.

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