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DRIVERS - a European project aimed at combating health inequalities

DRIVERS (2012 - 2015) was a major European research project funded by the 7th Framework Programme the aim of the project was to promote health equity through policy and practice in early childhood development, employment & working conditions, and income & social protection.

For more than three years, scientists, civil society organisations and representatives from public health and businesses collaborated to find out how health equity can be improved through action on three of the most important drivers of health: early childhood, employment & working conditions, and income & social protection. As a result of their efforts, which have included many peer-reviewed journal articles and several reports compiling the latest evidence, DRIVERS has identified four principles to guide the development and implementation of policies to improve health and reduce health inequalities.

As outlined by Professor Sir Michael Marmot in a keynote speech, these are:
1.  Universality of access: for example, provision of affordable, high-quality pre-natal and early years services for all.
2.  Addressing disadvantage: for example, providing targeted cash transfer programmes, specialist welfare services, and individualised active labour market programme support within a universal social protection system.
3.  Accounting for context and respecting rights: for example, ensuring that good practices are properly evaluated so they do not lose effectiveness when implemented in new contexts, and respecting the rights of the people concerned.
4.  Evidence-based policy: for example, making sure that policies are based on established models of good practice and evaluated both in terms of economic and social/health benefits.
The recommendations received broad support and endorsement. Stressing the importance of research and evidence-based policy, Caroline Costongs (Managing Director, EuroHealthNet) observed that: “EU-funded research into the key socio-economic factors determining health and well-being in Europe is crucial for developing effective policy responses. EuroHealthNet calls on the European Commission to assure such funding for public health research remains available in new Horizon2020 work programmes”.

For more information about this project contact Marion Macleod: or on 0131 313 8838

Full information about this project including the final report and recommendations are available on the projects website.