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European observatory will promote better health policy 165

BMJ 1999; 318 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.318.7180.352 (Published 06 February 1999) Cite this as: BMJ 1999;318:352

A new European initiative, the European Observatory on Health Care Systems, will be launched next Thursday. Its aim is to promote the development of evidence based health policy. Tessa Richards spoke to Josep Figueras, coordinator of the observatory's activities, to find out how the organisation plans to do this.

Europe, as defined by the World Health Organisation, consists of 51 states. Member countries span wide cultural, social, and economic divides but all face the same challenge of providing their citizens with humane, equitable, and affordable health care. Over the past decade, most states have attempted to achieve this by reforming their healthcare systems. The results have been disappointing in many cases, not least because the reforms have been driven more by ideology than evidence (European Journal of Public Health 1998;8:99-101)-and this is where the European Observatory on Health Care Systems comes in.

“There is some information about what reforms work and where they work,” maintains Dr Josep Figueras, coordinator of the observatory's work and one of its directors. “But it's not readily accessible or easy to interpret. Information is mostly in academic journals and much of it is unpublished. The expertise of the observatory is to collate the information, analyse it, structure it, and present the findings clearly to those responsible for making and implementing health policy.”

As a new partnership between academic institutions, two …

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