In the context of the White Book of Physical and Rehabilitation Medicine (PRM) in Europe, this paper deals with a global overview of the role of PRM in healthcare systems in Europe. Several documents and reports by WHO and the UN call for the worldwide strengthening of rehabilitation as a key health strategy of the 21st century. Therefore, further implementation of PRM in healthcare systems is crucial. Many aspects need to be considered when implementing PRM in a health system. Since PRM should be provided along the whole continuum of care, a specific phase model has been developed. Those phases depend on patients' functional needs as well as on temporal aspects of a health condition: it can be congenital or acquired, and the disorder can have an acute onset or a progressive or degenerative course. The following phases are described in the paper: habilitation. prehabilitation, PRM in acute settings, in post-acute and in long-term settings. Regular triage and reassessment to assign the patient to the appropriate level and setting of rehabilitation care is mandatory. Therefore, rehabilitation services should be stratified and organized in networks, in order to allow for the best possible care adapted to the individual's needs and goals, over the continuum of care. Providing correct PRM services requires good planning of service delivery, capacity building and resource allocation. The needed resources are human (with complex multi-professional teams), technical (diagnostic and therapeutic equipment, equipment for performing complementary diagnostic means. rehabilitation technology and assistive devices), and financial. Decisions on the allocation of the usually limited resources require a reasoned process and clear and fair criteria. Principles of clinical governance must be respected, and appropriate competencies are required. Disease prevention (primary, secondary and tertiary), health maintenance and support in chronic conditions as well as global health promotion are gaining growing importance in PRM. They include encouraging physical activity and promoting healthy behavior aiming at the maintenance of maximum function and avoiding complications in disabling or progressive conditions. This is discussed in the paper together with some ethical reflections on the choices PRM physicians continuously have to make during service delivery.