5 ways to engage with public health to shape a healthy Europe

In today’s volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous world, it is more difficult than ever to advance a pro-health agenda in Europe.

As well as the impact of ageing and migration on the  European demography, Non-Communicable Disease Epidemic, the rise of obesity, the re-occurence of long forgotten communicable diseases and health threats such as antimicrobial resistance and harmful pollution all endanger the sustainability of the European model. Healthcare systems are failing to cope with increasing demand, the most deprived face increasing barriers to access care, and we witness widening inequalities. Extreme political forces are looking for scapegoats and are not afraid to weaponise public health.

Times like these call for thought leadership and this is exactly what the European Public Health Alliance (EPHA) offers –  for citizens, NGOs, national governments and the European Institutions including the European Commission and directly elected Members of the European Parliament.

Everyone can make a difference. Here are 5 ways to engage with public health and help shape a healthy Europe.

1. What if I am a citizen concerned about health?

Many European public health challenges directly affect you and your daily life. Have you ever wondered why the healthy food options are often the less visible, less available or difficult choices? The regulatory and marketing environment, the promotion of alcohol and food high in fat, sugar or salt content plays a big role.

Were you shocked by your latest pharmacy bill? A failed innovation model abusing patent protection and other tricks are responsible for the often sky-high prices of medicines, making them increasingly unaffordable 

Have you noticed the poor air we are forced to breathe? Illegal levels of air pollution are responsible for diseases we would never have thought of. Are you aware that the EU has mandatory pollution limits, which most countries fail to meet?

Our thematic work on food, drink and agriculture, access to affordable medicines and clean air are targeting these issues – and EPHA and its members works on many more health issues.

What can I do?

On the  EPHA website you can find information and analysis on some of the most important EU health policy developments impacting everyone’s life in some way. Keep up to date by subscribing to our monthly newsletter, or following EPHA on Facebook, Linkedin and Twitter.

EPHA members may be active where you live – you can find more information about their activities on their dedicated webpages, and discover any local initiatives you might want to engage in.

2. What if I am part of a National or European public interest NGOs

National and European level health advocacy and interest representation go hand in hand. Knowing the European context is essential to advance and adapt national level discussions. EPHA successfully collaborates with a wide membership network, including 85 national and European level organisations. Actions and campaigns led by our members are facilitated by a Brussels-based committed and multi-skilled professional team: the EPHA Secretariat.

What can I do?

Together we can make an impact. If you work for an eligible organisation, check out our membership benefits, see if you can meet the obligations and join a fast-growing European public health advocacy network !

3. European Member State Representatives

There are ongoing European public health challenges which no single Member State can tackle alone. 

The rise of Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR) can no longer be ignored: routine operations, and life-saving medical procedures like chemotherapy themselves become life-threatening; and simple infections may, once again, be a death sentence.

Digitalisation is both an opportunity and a threat for national healthcare systems. Notwithstanding the transformative potential of digitalisation of health, existing health inequalities must not be replicated as new ways of delivering care are developed. The most vulnerable continue to often be the most affected, exacerbated by a Europe facing testing political and economic challenges. Gaps in life expectancy between different population groups and between different EU member states need to be tackled urgently.

Not a Member State, but still in the European region? Many of the issues above are also relevant in this wider European context. This is why, in addition to working with its skilled national Members, EPHA also works with the World Health Organization for Europe with an official, recognised partnership status.

What can I do?

EPHA’s work on antimicrobial resistanceDigital Health and Health inequalities are just some of the ways in which we aim to ensure the delivery of equitable solutions to European public health challenges – consider our recommendations when you are developing national health policies and programmes.

4. European Commission

Most of the European Commission services directly or indirectly have an impact on population health. Each European Commission officer has therefore a duty to consider her or his work as a contribution to fight common European challenges, including health challenges. 

EPHA welcomes the positive vote for Ursula von der Leyen as the new President-elect of the European Commission.  The support of the European Parliament is a huge responsibility and a concrete set of actions are needed to regain citizens’ trust. Achieving the strong coordination required for a coherent and robust health policy requires political leadership, drive and dedicated Commission resources to meet citizens’ expectations.

What can I do?

Ursula von der Leyen’s medical background and insights combined with political courage can be a huge, historic opportunity to initiate the changes needed so that everyone has the opportunity to live a healthy life.

In line with our ’Europe, let’s do more on health-EU4Health’ campaign,  we call on Ms von der Leyen,to include a senior level health Commissioner in her team, with a strong mandate, and to ensure that one of the Vice-Presidents of the Commission has overall responsibility for mainstreaming health across the whole of the Commission. We have outlined the main responsibilities for such a role in an earlier call.

5. European Parliament

Have you recently been elected as a Member of European Parliament? Congratulations!

In this position, you will have the unique opportunity to take a strategic leadership role in putting people’s physical and mental health and their well-being at the centre of EU policy-making. By doing so, you will restore confidence in the European project at a crucial time of unprecedented change in political and public life. 

In the last legislature, health and social justice issues significantly fell down the EU political agenda. This resulted in missed opportunities to decrease health inequalities, to increase the years people spend in good health, and to reduce the societal costs related to ill-health.

What can I do?

27 civil society organisations, including EPHA developed the Civil Society Guide for a Healthy Europe’ for MEPs 2019-2024, as a guide on how you can improve people’s health in Europe and beyond by ensuring the implementation of a Health in All Policies approach! So just pick up your phone and get in touch with our experts, including the EPHA team


Non-communicable diseases (NCDs) and obesity prevention  European Public Health Alliance (EPHA) Nikolai Pushkarev

+32 2 233 38 76

Food, food environments, healthy & sustainable diets European Public Health Alliance (EPHA) Nikolai Pushkarev

+32 2 233 38 76

Antimicrobial resistance European Public Health Alliance (EPHA) Ann Marie Borg 

+32 2 233 3877 

Digital health and (digital) health literacy European Public Health Alliance (EPHA)  Sascha Marschang 

+32 2 233 38 83


Patient safety, quality of medicines, Regulatory approvals/European Medicines Agency, Health Technology Assessment  European Public Health Alliance (EPHA)  Yannis Natsis 

+32 2 233 38 86

Intellectual Property (IP) rights: Patents  and IP-related incentives  European Public Health Alliance (EPHA)  Yannis Natsis 

+32 2 233 38 86

Affordability – Prices, pricing and reimbursement of pharmaceuticals  European Public Health Alliance (EPHA)  Yannis Natsis 

+32 2 233 38 86


International Trade European Public Health Alliance (EPHA) Zoltán Massay-Kosubek,

+32 2 233 38 72 


Transport and air pollution European Public Health Alliance (EPHA)  Zoltán Massay-Kosubek

 +32 2 233 38 72 


Social Inclusion, fighting poverty and inequalities, European Semester and the European Pillar of Social Rights European Public Health Alliance (EPHA) Sascha Marschang

+32 2 233 38 83 


Agriculture & food systems European Public Health Alliance (EPHA) Nikolai Pushkarev

+32 2 233 38 76

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