The international community has played an important role in defining the health system response to the financial crisis and assessing its impact. Institutions such as WHO, the European Commission and others have been especially active in supporting countries with gathering evidence and producing recommendations for action.

The WHO Regional Office for Europe, in cooperation with the Norwegian government, organised high level meetings in 2009 and 2013 with senior policy-makers from ministries of health, finance and health insurance funds, as well as patient organizations, international partners and researchers, to review review the impact of the crisis on health and health systems across the Region and to outline strategies to overcome the health consequences of the crisis.

The European Union became directly involved through the European sovereign-debt crisis as the Memorandums of Understandings that several Member States signed with the Troika contained commitments for health reforms. But also more generally, through the process of the Economic Semester country-specific Recommendations on health and long-term care are being developed. At the same time the EU recognises the importance of the contribution of the health sector to economic growth (European Commission, 2014) and the need to further invest and cooperate in this field and exchange best practice (Council of the European Union, 2014). Civil society has been closely monitoring the effects of austerity measures on population health and on the capacity of health systems to respond.

This is a selection of some of the main policy publications that have been published since 2008 by selected institutions.


European Union

Council of the European Union, Council Conclusions on the economic crisis and healthcare, June 2014

European Commission, Investing in Health, Commission staff working document, Brussels 2014

Informal Meeting of Health Ministers, Economic crisis and healthcare, Discussion Paper, 28-29 April, 2014, Athens, Greece


Jakab S, Director WHO Regional Office for Europe, Addressing the economic crisis in the context of Health 2020, 17-18 April 2013, Oslo, Norway

WHO Regional Office for Europe, Health systems in times of global economic crisis: an update of the situation in the WHO European Region, 2013

WHO Regional Office for Europe, Impact of economic crises on mental health, 2011

WHO Regional Office for Europe, Health in times of global economic crisis: implications for the WHO European Region, 2009

Civil society

Stamati F, Baeten R. Health care reforms and the crisis, Report 134, European Trade Union Institute 2014

Ellins J, Moore R, Lawrie M, Jackson O, Mann D, Singh K, Dam R, International responses to austerity. Evidence Scan nÂș22. The Health Foundation, Sept. 2014

European Public Health Alliance, Briefing notes updated: 1.The financial and economic crisis; 2.EPHA facts and figures, 2014

European Public Health Alliance, Growing up in the unhappy shadow of the economic crisis: Mental health and well-being of the European child and adolescent population, EPHA report, November 2014

Doctors of the World, Access to health care for the most vulnerable in a Europe in social crisis, Focus on pregnant women and children, 2014

Doctors of the World, Access to healthcare in times of crisis and rising xenophobia, 2013

European Public Health Alliance, Reforming Health Systems in Times of Austerity. EPHA Position Paper 2013

HOPE - European Hospital and Healthcare Federation, The Crisis, Hospitals and Healthcare. April 2011

European Health Policy Forum, Open Letter on Economic Crisis and Health, 2009