Who we are
The Pillars of Health coalition is an alliance of EU-based organizations that wants to contribute to an equitable geographic distribution of health workers across the European Union (EU), to ensure that all European citizens have equal access to health workers.
In 2021, as part of the Pillars of Health project, lead partner organization Wemos (the Netherlands) joined forces with the Center for Health Policies and Services (Romania), Media Education Centre (Serbia), and VU Athena (the Netherlands) to identify ways to address the negative effects of excessive health worker migration and recruitment. In 2022, we also started collaborating with the Association of Democratic Physicians (Verein demokratischer Ärzt*innen (vdää*)) (Germany). Until 2023, we closely collaborated with Media Education Centre. Moving forward, we aim to do joint advocacy within a wider coalition.
Together, we aim to influence policy-makers so they actively implement policies that mitigate the negative effects of health worker migration and mobility, and instead contribute to a strong and sustainable health workforce across the EU. We bring together civil society groups, public health experts, human rights defenders, trade unions, academics and researchers who are committed to expanding access to universal public healthcare. Through joint advocacy with civil society, and by using evidence-building, data reviews, knowledge sharing, and high-level political dialogues, we strive to influence relevant policies at EU level and in and between countries.
With our combined expertise and in-depth knowledge of our national contexts, we are able and motivated to move the coalition forward. We are looking for more civil society organizations and other allies to join forces and advocate equitable and well-balanced geographic health worker distribution in the EU. Visit our resources page for (advocacy) knowledge products and other resources.
Vision & mission
We envision an EU in which all citizens have equal access to skilled, motivated and supported health workers as part of their right to health and as part of the progress towards Universal Health Coverage.
We aim to contribute to a more equitable and well-balanced geographic distribution of health workers across the European region. We do this by doing joint advocacy and stimulating debate between civil society, policy-makers and other relevant stakeholders on the development and implementation of EU-level tools and measures.
Underlying principles of our work
- Health is a human right. This includes the right to access to skilled and motivated health workers.
- We believe in shared prosperity and solidarity in the EU and its neighbouring countries.
- We believe in health equity and therefore consistently analyse policies through the lens of intersectionality and gender equity.
- We consider believe that health workers are the ‘pillars of health’: they are essential for sustainable and resilient health systems.
- We fully support freedom of mobility for all in the EU.
Center for Health Policies and Services (CHPS) – Romania
The Center for Health Policies and Services (CHPS) focuses on the improvement of the health system functions and outcomes, the encouragement of social dialogue and community participation, the promotion of healthy lifestyles and patient empowerment in Romania, in the European region and beyond.
Through Pillars of Health, we aim to ensure that policy-makers from Romania and at EU-level actively steer the implementation of policies for a strong sustainable health workforce in Romania and across the European region, through sustained and adequate investments, effective recruitment and retention or collaboration strategies between health workers trained in Romania and clinics, medical universities, and in-service training providers from Romania. Our actions are based on the extensive research done in Romania and in countries where health workers trained in Romania live and work today.
Verein demokratischer Ärzt*innen (vdää*) – Germany
The Verein demokratischer Ärzt*innen (vdää*) (translated: Association of Democratic Physicians) is a professional association of physicians which was founded in 1986 and has its roots in the left-wing movement of Western Germany in the late 1960s and 1970s. It offers space for socially and self-critical discussions, promotes the networking of politically active doctors, medical students and psychologists, develops analyses and participates in social debates. Interprofessional and international solidarity as well as broad political cooperation in alliances are important pillars of our work. Our broader goal is to change the balances of power towards a democratic and solidarity-based health care system.
In the Pillars of Health project, we aim to connect our fight for sustainable working conditions in the German health care system with a critical viewpoint on the international recruitment of the health workforce in Germany. We promote changes that reduce the need to recruit health personnel from other countries as well as strict regulations that ensure good working conditions for migrant health workers in Germany.
VU Athena Institute – The Netherlands
The Athena Institute at the Vrije Universiteit (VU) Amsterdam believes that science should contribute to a healthy, inclusive and sustainable world. We aim to do so by analysing and integrating diverse stakeholder perspectives and enabling joint action.
In Pillars of Health, the Athena Institute provides support in evidence-building, capacity-building and knowledge translation to inform advocacy on health workforce mobility in Europe. Specifically, the Athena Institute works towards the integration of gender and intersectionality in evidence-building and capacity-building activities. By doing so, the Athena Institute aims to raise awareness on gender issues that contribute to inequity in the health workforce, cross-border collaboration and in health workforce policies and programs, particularly related to migration.
Wemos (lead partner organization) – The Netherlands
Wemos is an independent civil society organization that advocates structural change to realize global health justice. Through analysis of Dutch, European and global policies that affect health, we identify issues and propose relevant changes. We hold the Dutch government, the EU and multilateral organizations accountable for their responsibility to respect, protect and fulfil the right to health. With over 40 years of experience, we have acquired an international reputation for our rights-based and systemic approach to health. We create spaces for dialogue and discussion around global health, addressing underlying power imbalances and bringing in the perspective of those whose voices are not always heard in the global arena. We seek to improve public health worldwide, through evidence-building, coalition-building and advocacy activities. We work with (inter)national networks of civil society organizations to reinforce joint messages.
Within Pillars of Health, and as lead partner, Wemos leads the EU-level advocacy activities. Together with our partners and Pillars of Health coalition members, we aim to gather relevant evidence and influence EU-level policymakers so they implement policy measures that mitigate the negative effects of excessive health worker migration and mobility in the EU.
Media Education Centre (MEC) – Serbia (partner until 2023)
Media Education Centre (MEC) is a Serbia-based non-profit civil society organization that aims to promote the role of the media in digital, visual, social, peace and information literacy. Within the Pillars of Health project, in collaboration with our partners, we collected relevant data on migration and the current state of the health workforce in Serbia. In the Pillars of Health project, we looked into the impact of health worker migration on the functioning of healthcare services in Serbia, and into ways to mitigate the potential negative impact of migration.
Through research and interviews with stakeholders, we aimed to gain a better understanding of factors that influence health workforce migration in Serbia, in order to propose policy measures that address the negative effects of migration and contribute to equitable access to health.
MEC was Pillars of Health partner until 2023. MEC maintains a separate, Serbian-only Pillars of Health website.