By 2040, all Dutch citizens will live at least five years longer in good health, while the health inequalities between the lowest and highest socioeconomic groups will have decreased by 30%.
The general health of the Dutch is doing well: people are getting older and the number of years in good health is increasing. Nevertheless, the socioeconomic differences in health are large and persistent: 6 years difference in life expectancy, 15 years difference in healthy life expectancy.
‘It is often wrongly thought that this only concerns a small part of the population’, says Mohammed Azzouz, programme manager at Pharos. ‘The problem is much larger and has an impact not only on the life course of the people concerned, but on society as a whole. Reducing health inequalities is an urgent societal challenge and must be placed high on the agenda.’
By 2040, the burden of disease resulting from an unhealthy lifestyle and living environment will have decreased by 30%.
It was the success story of the last 150 years: prevention. Our system is based on all possible means of prevention. Whether it be through schools, vaccination programmes or the sewerage system, all of these aspects have contributed to an additional life expectancy of no less than 35 years. Healthcare, however, compares less well if we take a look at the facts: it has "only" added 5.5 years to the life expectancy. The question that now arises is: have we reached the limits of implementing prevention? Apparently, it is already embedded so deeply in our system that we no longer even notice it. But has it become a dated concept, or does it still have the potential to be a possible success story again? In this interview, Rick Grobbee tells us his view on the prevention story.
Rick Grobbee's career is impressive. He started his career as a doctor before he was appointed as a professor at the Erasmus University in Rotterdam. In 1996, Grobbee founded the Julius Center in Utrecht. Today, Grobbee is chair of the NWA route "Healthcare research, prevention and treatment" .
This is one of the 25 routes that form the instrument for the Dutch Research Agenda. The routes serve to transform important social and economic questions in society into researchable themes. ‘The ideas that have been generated must now be translated into projects and preferably into feasible conclusions,’ Grobbee says.
By 2030, the extent of care will be organised and provided to people 50% more (or more often) than present in one's own living environment (instead of in healthcare institutions), together with the network around people.
By 2030, the proportion of people with a chronic disease or lifelong disability who can participate in society according to their wishes and capabilities will have increased by 25%.
By 2030, quality of life of people with dementia will have improved by 25%.
The results of the dementia studies are slowly starting to transform from a shattered puzzle to a fixed-piece puzzle. Although the pieces are starting to fall more into place, dementia still presents us with an enormous challenge. Wiesje van der Flier has been working on this research for years and says that ‘dementia is an enormous challenge that we must tackle together, shoulder to shoulder. That is only possible through cooperation.’
This cooperation also needs to extend beyond the Netherlands to the international context. We have to stand firm together.
Van der Flier has devoted a large part of her career to dementia research. She is currently head of clinical research at the Alzheimer Center Amsterdam. The aim of the center is to combine patient care and science, for patients with Alzheimer's disease and other forms of dementia.