The new Dutch public health foresight study, in the light of COVID-19
Public Health foresight might be more necessary than ever to get a grip on possible (health) impacts of the current coronavirus outbreak. This concerns its direct health effects but also indirectly the crisis will have effects, for example, due to changes in regular health care or changes in life style. In addition, socio-economic developments might have their effect on health on the longer term. In the coming Dutch Public Health Foresight study, scenarios will be developed to provide insight into possible future impacts. The aim is to support a better assessment of (exit) strategies in which the broad effects are integrated (time horizon 0-5 years). A second goal is to provide insights into longer-term future developments (10-20 years) given the newly gained knowledge about the risks of such a pandemic.
PHFS-2018: A healthy prospect
The most recent version of the PHFS, A healthy prospect, was published in 2018. The overall aim of the PHFS-2018 was twofold: first to show how public health and healthcare in the Netherlands will develop over the next 25 years if we pursue our current course and do not take any additional measures, and second, to give options for dealing with the major future societal challenges we face.
To answer these questions, RIVMNational Institute for Public Health and the Environment has used a combination of quantitative and qualitative methods and published several products:
• Trend Scenario
• Thematic Foresight Studies (on healthcare demand, the wider determinants of health, and technology)
• Options for Action
Former editions of the PHFS
- Public Health Status and Foresight study (PHSF) 2014: A healthier Netherlands
- Public Health Status and Foresight study (PHSF) 2010: Towards better health
- Public Health Status and Forecasts Report 2006: Care for health
- Public Health Status and Forecasts Report 2002: Health on Course?
- Public Health Status and Forecasts 1997: the Sum of the Parts, synopsis
- Public Health Status and Forecasts 1993: The health status of the Dutch population over the period 1950-2010
Producing regular, comprehensive public health foresight studies is not common practice in most countries. Nevertheless, fueled by the substantial future demographic and societal changes many countries face, interest in such studies is growing. The PHFS team at RIVM therefore also engages in sharing experiences and capacity building. For example, a workshop on recent foresight activities in Europe was organised at the European Public Health (EPH) Conference in 2018, and an introductory pre-conference on how to perform a public health foresight study will be organised at the forthcoming European Public Health (EPH) Conference in November 2019. In addition, the PHFS team has organised foresight workshops in several countries including Lithuania, Slovenia and Wales.
RIVM Top Expert in Public Health Foresights
Making public health foresight studies is one of the RIVM’s fields of expertise. For several of these, RIVM has appointed a Top Expert. These senior experts stimulate the scientific and strategic development of their field of expertise. RIVM’s Top Expert in public health foresights is Dr. Henk Hilderink.