Norwegian version

Healthcare Access in Rural Border Regions. Realizing Patient Rights Across European Borders (HARBOR)

The overall aim of the HARBOR project is to develop an integrated approach of cross-border interactions and access to health care in European border regions, and to rethink healthcare planning across border regions

The project HARBOR – Healthcare Access in Rural Border Regions. Realizing Patient Rights Across European Borders – is the first cross-national and multi-scalar study of cross-border interactions and their impact on access to healthcare in rural and disadvantaged border areas in Europe. Developing a novel conceptual framework in which borders and cross-border interactions are an integral part of healthcare territories, the project aims to close the gap in regional studies and social policy literature on the provision of health care in European border regions. 

  • Participants

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    • Overview

      Access to timely and affordable healthcare is one of the key principles of the European Pillar of Social Rights. Building on data from four countries (Belgium, France, Norway and Sweden) and from both Nordic and EU-wide policy developments, HARBOR will provide new, gender-sensitive, comparative knowledge about how the EU, national, regional and local authorities can ensure quality health care in disadvantaged, rural border regions.

      The project will develop an original analytic framework which will allow scholars to bridge insights from the scholarly literature in comparative health studies and border studies. The project will identify facilitators of and barriers against cross-border co-operation, and will additionally make proposals for ways to reconcile territoriality bound social rights and supply planning with cross-border mobility and potential for pooling resource. 

    • More about the project

      The theoretical ambition of HARBOR is to construct a model of the missing links between Europeanization, regionalization and the changing centre-periphery relations within national healthcare systems. The project will combine the study of European integration and multi-level governance with the growing literature on inequalities within national health systems.

      The new framework will help European social and health policy scholars as well as policymakers to better understand the mechanisms and processes that foster or hamper the realization of timely and affordable healthcare in rural and disadvantaged areas and open new avenues for rethinking borders as new potential for interconnected and coordinated health regions. The COVID-19 crisis has indeed demonstrated that borders are still very much a physical reality but also that cross-border solidarity could benefit nations states and regions.

      The project will also seek to

      • contribute to multi-level comparative policy research between Nordic and continental welfare states
      • identify mechanisms for pooling of healthcare resources in a territorially diverse Europe
      • generate recommendations for health policy cooperation in the EU and across border regions

      HARBOR will also innovate with a bottom-up comparative study of how cross-border interactions affect access to care in border regions, mapping interactions and health services on a given territory, including ambulatory and primary care which are a crucial part of improving access to health care services in rural or disadvantaged areas.