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Learning from our neighbours (summary). Cross-national inspiration for Dutch public health policies: smoking, alcohol, overweight, depression, health inequalities, youth, screening

Leren van de buren (samenvatting). Beleid publieke gezondheid internationaal bezien: roken, alcohol, overgewicht, depressie, gezondheidsachterstand, jeugd, screening

Synopsis

The Netherlands does not make sufficient use of national strategies or action plans in tackling its public health problems. Our neighbours teach us that a comprehensive national strategy can contribute to the creation of a more systematic body of policy and less fragmented preventive measures. This is the conclusion reached by the RIVM in an international comparative report 'Learning from our neighbours; Cross-national inspiration for Dutch public health policies'. The Report was presented to Ab Klink, the Minister of Health, Welfare and Sports on July 9th 2007. Last year, the RIVM concluded that Dutch public health lags behind leading European nations.* The percentage of smokers hasn't decreased as fast as in other countries and Dutch young people drink alcohol more often than their European peers. The alcohol and tobacco control policies in place in the Netherlands are not as strict as those in other countries. Prevention of depression and reducing health inequalities miss a coherent strategy. Learning from our neighbours outlines existing policies on smoking, alcohol, overweight, depression, health inequalities, youth and screening throughout the world. For example Germany, Switzerland, France and Denmark levy extra taxes on breezers to discourage young people to drink alcohol. In some countries a package of cigarettes is two times as expensive as in the Netherlands. Scotland, Finland and Australia promote mental health through programmes at school and work. Market forces and other -international- influences sometimes interfere with good policy-making, but they also offer opportunities. To ensure a more coherent body of health policy, the RIVM recommends that Dutch public authorities make use of the lessons from our neighbours to set realistic goals and effective measures.
 

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