In the Netherlands, responsibility for various public health tasks is devolved to regional and local authorities. The Ministry of Health, Welfare and Sport (VWS) nevertheless oversees compliance with national health policy, and must therefore have information about the authorities’ performance of their tasks, and the opportunities for government intervention where necessary. The first requirement is therefore adequate knowledge.

RIVM has been given the task of coordinating certain public health activities. The Centre for Infectious Disease Control, the Centre for Population Screening and the Centre for Healthy Living have been established for this purpose. They help to develop policy, coordinate its implementation, produce guidelines and intervention plans and form an important source of information for professionals in the field.