A healthy Europe
Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway have made available more than €180 million to improve public health in 10 countries. Most of the funding will be allocated to projects in 2014.
The widening health gap, high levels of lifestyle-related diseases and an ageing population are some of the major health challenges in Europe. At the same time, spending on health has fallen in many EU countries. National health funding is often the first to be reduced when governments have to cut spending.
Therefore, there is great interest in the EEA and Norway Grants health programmes established and up and running in 10 EU countries (Bulgaria, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Lithuania, Poland, Portugal, Romania and Slovenia). Many of the programmes target vulnerable groups such as children, pregnant women, low-income families, the elderly, immigrants and Roma.
Funding available this year
What is funded in each country is defined according to needs and challenges in the given country. Improving the access to safe, high-quality, efficient health care services are priorities in most of the countries. Improving mental health services is a priority in among others the Czech Republic, Estonia and Hungary. Improving prevention, health surveillance and health information is a priority in Slovenia and Portugal. More than half the population in Europe is overweight or obese. Awareness-raising on health lifestyles is also a priority.
“Some of the programmes have already selected or are currently selecting projects, but most of the €182.6 million in funding will be made available this year through calls for project proposals,” said Anne Camilla Hilton, senior sector officer for public health at the EEA and Norway Grants’ Financial Mechanism Office.
Poland and Estonia are the two countries where the calls closed last year. In both countries the number of applications well exceeded the amount there is funding for.
Several calls for proposals under the health programmes are open at the moment and calls are also expected in Portugal, Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Hungary and Lithuania within the coming months. The last call under the health programmes is expected in the first quarter of 2015.
Increasing awareness of the programmes
On 29 January, the Mission of Norway to the EU and the Financial Mechanism Office (FMO), the Brussels-based secretariat for the Grants, invited health counsellors from the Brussels permanent representations of the beneficiary countries of the Grants to a breakfast seminar. During the meeting they got information about the opportunities and status of the EEA and Norway Grants health programmes and exchanged knowledge and experience of challenges in this field with the organisers.
Also the two Norwegian donor programme partners the Norwegian Institute for Public Health and the Norwegian Directorate of Health who are involved in the implementation of the programmes took part in the meeting.
Cooperation with donor state entities
Partnerships with entities from Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway is encouraged under the health programmes. The Norwegian donor programme partners can assist Norwegian entities who wish to get involved as partners in projects. Funding is available to support networking and foster project partnerships with donor state entities. Activities such as participating in meetings, networking and sharing of technology and best practice may be funded by bilateral funds under each programme.