Everyone in the Netherlands – at a certain point in their lives - will be invited to take part in one of the national population screening programs. Most programs are intended to identify (life threatening) diseases at the earliest possible stage so that prompt treatment can be given. The screening programs help to enhance public health. In case of the Down’s, Edwards' and Patau syndromes screening, the program is meant to inform parents on their options.
The Centre for Population Screening (CvB) directs, manages and coordinates the national population screening programs for cervical cancer, breast cancer, bowel cancer, Down’s syndrome screening, the 20-week ultrasound, the heel prick program, newborn hearing screening and pregnancy blood screening. This ensures that the chain of health care providers responsible for diagnosis and treatment can function as effectively as possible. Each link in that chain has its own responsibilities and authority. The centre is also responsible for providing clear public information. In addition to the screening programmes, CvB is responsible for the Dutch national influenza prevention program. It coordinates and directs all these programmes on behalf of the Ministry of Health, Welfare and Sport (VWS).