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Country/JA: Austria flag Austria
Action type: Policy initiative

Problem: While life expectancy in Austria is above the OECD average, the number of healthy life years for people living in Austria is below the OECD average.

Objective: The Austrian health targets were developed to prolong healthy life years in Austria by addressing major health determinants with particular focus on vulnerable and disadvantaged population groups.

Implementation status: Fully implemented and ongoing

Key Contextual Factors

  • The 10 Austrian health targets were developed through a broad participatory process involving stakeholders from most Austrian ministries, non-governmental organizations, civil society, unions and interest groups, with the aim to prolong the healthy life years of all people living in Austria within 20 years (until 2032) – irrespective of their level of education, income or personal living conditions.
  • The process is led and coordinated by the Austrian Federal Ministry of Social Affairs, Health, Care and Consumer Protection.
  • As health is profoundly influenced by the settings where people live, learn, work, or play, representatives of different organizations and areas of policy need to work together closely, with more than 40 institutions and organizations from different sectors of policy and society involved in implementation.
  • The strategy needed to target all people living in Austria with special attention given to health equity.

Key Components/Steps

  • A plenary committee (a form of advisory board) was established that represents public authorities at federal, regional and local level, social insurance, social partners, health care professionals, institutions of the health and social care system, representatives of patients, children and adolescents, elderly people and socio-economic disadvantaged people (
  • For each of the 10 targets, an intersectional working group was set up. These working groups define sub-targets, actions and indicators for monitoring in an ongoing process.
  • So far, seven working groups have finalized their reports, with the operationalization of two further targets started in 2019.
  • Now that most targets are in the implementation phase, the focus is on identifying and strengthening high-impact actions that reach large parts of the population.

Main Impacts / Added Value

  • The process is based on the recognition that population health is determined in large parts by environmental, living and working conditions and lifestyles, all of which are influenced by many sectors.

  • The targets provide a framework for coordinated action, which is backed by all institutions involved and thus helps to overcome silo’s thinking.

  • The structures established to implement the health targets add to strengthening intersectional cooperation which has proven helpful in the COVID crisis.

Lessons Learned

  • Leadership of the Austrian Federal Ministry of Social Affairs, Health, Care and Consumer Protection was essential to ensure political backing, continuity and sustainability.
  • Continuous dialogue at all involved levels, and with all the active institutions, organizations and individuals is key.
  • Linking the targets to other intersectional policies helps to broaden its scope.
  • Linking the targets to processes happening at the international level (e.g., Agenda 2030 and the WHO EURO Health 2020 strategy) helped to gain recognition internationally (the health targets have been described as an example of good practice in the health promotion / public health arena).
  • The accompanying monitoring process helps strategic management and optimization of the strategy and actions.

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References and Documentation