Following a proposal by Commissioners Padraig Flynn and Yves-Thibault de Silguy, the Commission has recently adopted a new initiative in the field of Public Health (COM (95) 449). The initiative is aimed at developing, in close contact with the Member States, a capacity for monitoring the health of the European Union's population. The five year programme (1997-2001) will also seek to quantify the factors that impact upon health. The budget proposed for the programme is ECU 13.8 million, which will be supplemented by contributions from the Member States. The primary objective of the new programme is to establish a high quality health monitoring system which allows the measuring of trends and determinants throughout the European Union, in order to facilitate planning, monitoring, implementation and evaluation of programmes and actions. An additional goal is to establish comparative health indicators which may be of use to Member States in their development of national health policies. The programme will focus on the following areas: - Identification and establishment of a series of health indicators and data at the European and Member State level; - Establishment of a network for the collection and dissemination of data between the national administrations, the Commission and international organizations working in the sphere of public health, such as the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD); - In-depth analysis of health indicators, to gauge the impact of health and health-related actions and programmes, and assess the trends in health status in the European Union; - Dissemination of the results by way of reports, information materials, seminars, etc. Member States, as well as the general public and other interested parties, will have access to data and reports resulting from the programme. The Commissioners emphasized the importance of arriving at relevant, reliable and comparable data in the field of public health through an efficient European statistical system within which Eurostat is playing an active coordinating role. The resulting information base will be a flexible tool which will enable the European Commission to carry out regular analyses of the health situation in the European Union, conduct in-depth studies in areas of concern and help identify and respond to specific problems. Health indicators to be collected in the new system will include (non-exhaustive list): - Health status, covering such areas as life expectancy, causes of death, disabilities, quality of life and mental health; - Life style and health habits, including tobacco and alcohol consumption, diet and drug abuse; - Living and working conditions, covering the general environment, housing conditions, the work-place and transport accidents; - Health protection, including health promotion and disease prevention activities; - Demographic and other factors such as gender, education and income.