Due to the ageing of populations and the lengthening of life expectancy, the usual mortality indicators are no longer sufficient to monitor the health status of populations. The availability of indi-cators providing information on the functional status of their populations would be much appreciated by health authorities, provided that these new indicators make comparisons over time and space possible.

Health expectancies - disability-free life expectancy or life expectancy in perceived good health for instance - are synthetic indicators of health that, preci-sely, take the quality of the years lived into account. To date, several dozen calculations have already been carried out in Europe and in the rest of the world, but comparisons are largely impossible.

Euro-Reves is involved at this stage. It is a Concerted action aiming, within three years, at (1) examining the difficulties in comparing the calculations of health expectancies already made, (2) drawing up the list of the problems to be solved to make calculations strictly comparable, and (3) suggesting the best solutions, taking into account the economic and the specifically European constraints. Euro-Reves has been set up in the framework of the 1990-1994 Biomedical and Health Research Programme (BIOMED 1) of the Directorate-General for Science,

Report of the first Euro-REVES meeting

van de Water HPA, Perenboom RJM. Report of the first meeting of the Euro-REVES sub-committee Policy Relevance and Conceptual Harmonization. Leiden: Euro-REVES / TNO Prevention and Health, 1995.

Copies are available from: Harry P.A. van de Water, TNO Prevention and Health, P.O.Box 2215, 2301 CE Leiden, The Netherlands.

Phone: +31 71 181 778, Fax: +31 71 176 382

From the 10th of october:

Phone: +31 71 5181 778, Fax: +31 71 5176 382


The Maastricht Treaty has given the Community, for the first time, an explicit legal basis for undertaking action in the field of public health (Articles 3(0) and 129). Setting as a target the best results already obtained in any given area in Europe, the role of the Community is to support the efforts of the Member States, assisting them in the formulation and implementation of objectives and stra-tegies. Knowing about existing problems, their nature, and their extent is a prere-quisite for such action. Health infor-mation, in particular health data and indicators, has been identified as a pri-ority for Community action.

In 1993, The High Level Committee on Health, which gathers representatives of the Ministries of Health, established a Working Party on Community Health Data and Indicators. The Working Party prepared a report which recommends the development of a Community Health Information System within ten years. This work with the comments of the Commission services acts was a starting for the preparation of a Community ac-tion programme on health monitoring. The proposal for this action programme is being drafted by the Commission services (Directorate-General for Emp-loyment, Industrial relations and Social affairs, DG V) and is scheduled for adoption by the Commission. Thereafter it will be discussed in the European Parliament and the Council of the Euro-pean Union. Within this framework, Eurostat intends to contribute to the es-tablishment of a consistent and coherent system of health data and indicators.

Health expectancies have a place in the preliminary documents of this action and they may be included in the future set of Community health indicators. This would significantly increase the rele-vance of Euro-Reves since its success could directly contribute to the con-struction of a Community Health Infor-mation System. In this regard, Euro-Reves has already contacted Eurostat.

Policy relevance of health expectancies has been, precisely, the theme of the first general meeting of Euro-Reves, organized by Harry van de Water in Leiden, as reported in page 2 of this newsletter. The detailed report of this first meeting is available from Harry van de Water. Furthermore the mental health sub-committee have made use of this meeting in order to extend on-going discussion of mental health priorities as described by Karen Ritchie in page 3.

Jean-Marie Robine

Project leader

ní2 ~ September 1995


Policy relevance