Health and society: shifting perspectives
The Council for Health and Society (Raad voor Volksgezondheid en Samenleving, RVS) was established by the Dutch government on January 1, 2015. The RVS is based on a merger of the Council for Social Development (RMO) and the Council for Public Health and Health Care (RVZ).
The Council has defined four key themes to focus on in the coming period (2015-2019). These key themes will be used as a guideline for the advisory projects and other activities which the RVS will undertake these coming four years. The Council is already working on three advisory topics in line with these themes.
Vision and mission
Relations between the public health sector and other domains of society are changing. New social relations are evolving, thereby challenging established ideas on healthcare, welfare, housing and employment services. Existing functions, tasks and roles are either changing or vanishing, whilst new functions, tasks and roles are emerging. Similarly, technological innovations and citizen initiatives are influencing the social domain. All these factors have significant consequences for relations between citizens, professionals, civic organisations and the government authorities. Local authorities have gained additional responsibilities, citizens are required to take more personal responsibility while professionals need to be both specialists and generalists.
Embracing new ideas
These changes create a favourable climate for embracing new ideas and trends such as the personalisation of healthcare. Different opinions are voiced, and opportunities for new initiatives are provided. However, also inhibitive forces come into play. The rising uncertainties make people and organisations cling on to established practices. They wish to secure their vested interests and ‘safeguard’ their own position. The drive to innovate stands in contrast to adherence to the old way of doing things.
Both movements can create blindness. Individual limitations are no longer acknowledged, a blind eye is turned to other views. Shifting relations need a voice that questionsdiverging views both of those who advocate change and those who oppose it.
The RVS wishes to be that voice. Its mission is to present different perspectives which can serve as a guide for policy and work practices. A movement, vision or view always has multiple facets: the Council aims to identify, single out and draw attention specifically to the ‘other facet’. Good advice issued by the RVS will enable people and organisations in the broad domain of public health and society to view the world differently – this may challenge what is familiar or idealised, but will for that reason also create opportunities.
How? In the period ahead the RVS will concentrate on analysing existing views and on developing new organisational, social and ethical views. The Council thus undertakes to identify matters taken for granted, flag blind spots, break taboos and present new ways of thinking and acting.