Many opportunities for improving public health are missed

Date: 19 mei 2009.

What applies to individuals also applies to the Dutch population as a whole: even if you are in good health, you could gain a lot by, for example, getting more exercise, not smoking and avoiding work-related stress. In the European health ‘league table’, the Netherlands is now about in the middle. We are better than average, but we are no longer amongst the best.

That implies that opportunities for improving public health are currently being missed. The figures on avoidable illness and mortality back up that conclusion. Some 13 per cent of the disease burden in the Netherlands is caused by smoking, for example, a further 4.5 per cent by heavy drinking and 4 per cent by lack of exercise. In addition, diet, environmental factors and working conditions each account for a few per cent of the total disease burden.

Opportunities for improving public health in The Netherlands are currently being missed. This and more conclusions are to be found in a study of the European Observatory on Health Systems and Policies. The study was conducted upon the request of the Council on Public Health and Health Care.

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