Note to Correspondents

Note No. 252

5 September 2003




(As received)

Today, the WHO Regional Office for Europe unveiled its new project: the Health Evidence Network (HEN), developed to support decision-makers in taking evidence-based, sound decisions on public health. HEN – launched at the fifty-third session of the WHO Regional Committee for Europe, WHO’s European governing body, in Vienna, Austria -- is a long-term project that offers a framework for pooling and disseminating the information available on public health. It is an important new contribution to the Regional Office’s strategy of providing assistance tailored to the specific needs of its Member States.

“Information is more than ever a priority for the Regional Office. It is one of WHO’s basic missions and a vital service that countries expect of us. Our ambition is to provide each country in the Region with analysis and information that are useful to, and usable by, decision-makers in the Member States,” says Dr Marc Danzon, WHO Regional Director for Europe. “HEN belongs to decision-makers”, he stresses.

HEN makes the best available evidence and information on public health accessible in a single spot. It offers easy access to databases, publications and experts in evidence-based public health; and rapidly responds to questions from decision-makers. The responses are based on careful reviews of both scientific evidence and other relevant information, and they highlight what is and is not known about the issue, the current debate on the subject and the policy options.

The main difference from other such projects is that HEN starts with decision-makers’ questions about policies, collects and analyses relevant evidence and then presents it in a form tailored to the needs of decision-makers, rather than a large volume of information not specifically shaped for their use.

How does HEN work? With the assistance of its international Editorial Board, HEN selects questions from those received from decision-makers throughout the WHO European Region, and commissions experts to compile and write evidence-based, peer-reviewed and periodically updated responses. One of its assets is that HEN uses the best available evidence, interpreted in light of its context; what works in one country may not work in another.

HEN identifies, reviews and describes relevant online resources. It selects information related to public health and makes it available on one web site. This gives decision-makers another way to find evidence to support their policy decisions.

Public health and health care decision-makers from all of the 52 Member States in the WHO European Region can benefit from this new information service, which now collaborates with about 30 agencies and institutions in the Region. Other interested parties, including journalists and the general public, might also benefit from HEN’s services.

Examples of questions tackled by HEN ( and more details on the project are available on the Regional Office web site (

For more information contact:




Ms Jane Wallace

Health Evidence Network

WHO Regional Office for Europe

Scherfigsvej 8, DK-2100,
Copenhagen Ø, Denmark

Tel.: +45 39 17 14 27

Fax: +45 39 17 18 68



Ms Liuba Negru

Press and Media Relations

WHO Regional Office for Europe

Scherfigsvej 8, DK-2100,
Copenhagen Ø, Denmark

Tel.: +45 39 17 13 44

Fax: +45 39 17 18 80