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Arch Public Health. 2013 May 30;71(1):12. doi: 10.1186/0778-7367-71-12. eCollection 2013.

Public health indicators for the EU: the joint action for ECHIM (European Community Health Indicators & Monitoring).

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RIVM, National Institute for Public Health and the Environment, P.O. Box 1, Bilthoven, BA, NL - 3720, the Netherlands.
THL, National Institute for Health and Welfare, P.O. Box 30, Helsinki, FI - 00270, Finland.
Robert Koch Institute, P.O. Box 65 02 61, D-13302, Berlin, Germany.
Center of Health Information, Institute of Hygiene, Didzioji 22, Vilnius, LT - 01128, Lithuania.
ISS, Istituto Superiore di Sanità, Viale Regina Elena, 299, Rome, IT - 00161, Italy.
Ratakatu 1a, Helsinki, FI-00120, Finland.



Public health policies aim to improve and maintain the health of citizens. Relevant data and indicators are needed for a health policy that is based on factual information. After 14 years of work (1998-2012), the multi-phase action on European Community Health Indicators (ECHI) has created a health monitoring and reporting system. It has generated EU added value by defining the ECHI shortlist with 88 common and comparable key health indicators for Europe.


In the 2009-2012 Joint Action for ECHIM project the ECHI shortlist was updated through consultation with Member State representatives. Guidelines for implementation of the ECHI Indicators at national level were developed and a pilot data collection was carried out.


67 of the ECHI Indicators are already part of regular international data collections and thus available for a majority of Member States, 14 are close to ready and 13 still need development work. By mid-2012 half of the countries have incorporated ECHI indicators in their national health information systems and the process is ongoing in the majority of the countries. Twenty-five countries were able to provide data in a Pilot Data Collection for 20 ECHI Indicators that were not yet (fully) available in the international databases.


The EU needs a permanent health monitoring and reporting system. The Joint Action for ECHIM has set an example for the implementation of a system that can develop and maintain the ECHI indicators,, and promote and encourage the use of ECHI in health reporting and health policy making. The aim for sustainable public health monitoring is also supported by a Eurostat regulation on public health statistics requiring that health statistics shall be provided according to the ECHI methodology. Further efforts at DG SANCO and Eurostat are needed towards a permanent health monitoring system.


Public health indicators; Public health monitoring; Public health reporting

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