Opportunities in preventive health care in the Netherlands
Agreement on Healthy and Active Living published
Early February the Dutch government announced an important covenant had been agreed on with major health care stakeholders: the Agreement on Healthy and Active Living. The Agreement, the Dutch acronym for it is GALA, aims to increase the emphasis on the notion of positive health in basically all policy domains. The partners in GALA are a broad coalition of municipalities, the Ministry of Health, Welfare and Sport, health care insurers and regional public health service organisations.
Goals of the Agreement
The GALA-Agreement aims to achieve seven goals or results:
- reducing poor health related to factors such as income level or living area;
- promoting healthy physical living environments that invite to ‘move and meet’;
- strengthening the social basis;
- promoting healthy lifestyles;
- strengthening mental wellbeing;
- vital ageing;
- creating a regional governance across silos, aimed at supporting prevention;
The text of the Agreement gives more details about the goals and how they should be achieved. For instance, GALA stipulates that municipalities integrate mental health into their broader approach to health and prevention, resulting in:
- for all residents of the Netherlands it will be more convenient to talk about their mental health, including through culture;
- all residents of the Netherlands know better where they can find low-threshold support within their municipalities;
- all residents of the Netherlands know which options there are to work on their mental health.
To achieve these goals, GALA imposes on municipalities the obligation to define certain policies, and to include proven approaches from specific organisations in these policies. GALA requires the Ministry of Health, Welfare and Sport to ensure that municipalities can benefit from certain national instruments. The idea is that integrating local policies with national instruments should make everything more effective. This is just an example: on all areas mentioned above, the GALA-Agreement gives more detail to both objectives and instruments.
For companies outside of the Netherlands, it’s good to know that there is a broad understanding among the main Dutch stakeholders about the way forward, and that there will be substantial focus on, and financing for, preventive health. While the GALA-Agreement itself is mostly – if not all – high level policy mumbo jumbo, the implementation of it will require solutions that bring tangible results. Companies that have proven solutions in these areas, from mental healthcare to healthy lifestyle, and from food to fall prevention, will therefore find ample opportunities in the Netherlands in the years to come.