The World Health Organization – The Case for Measuring Wellbeing in Europe
The Constitution of the World Health Organization (WHO), adopted in 1948, defines health as “not merely the absence of disease or infirmity” but “a state of complete physical, mental and social wellbeing”. Nevertheless, for more than 60 years WHO has neither measured nor reported on wellbeing in European Member States, focusing instead on the measurement of death, disease and disability. One of the core missions of the new European Health 2020 policy which was spear-headed by WHO is to describe the wellbeing of populations and measure progress in enhancing it in Europe. In order to achieve this goal, WHO has established an international expert group and formed an alliance of partners, which includes the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) and the European Commission, to define wellbeing in the context of health and to measure and track wellbeing over time. For the first time, WHO is proposing subjective and objective wellbeing measures to its Member States and will monitor progress with wellbeing across the region. This chapter outlines the rationale, the process, as well as the expectations and challenges encountered in this effort.
KeywordsWellbeing Measurement Quality of life Happiness Indicator Target Social progress
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