Health promotion and disease prevention are among RIVM's core tasks. As health promotion in the Netherlands involves many players, the challenge is to merge national and local approaches effectively. That is what the RIVM Centre for Healthy Living addresses. The Centre encourages systematic, informed approaches, supports local professionals and policy-makers and coordinates health promotion across the country.

Health promotion in the Netherlands

In the Netherlands, the Ministry of Health, Welfare and Sport bears overall responsibility for public health at a national level. It formulates policy objectives relating to prevention and health promotion and oversees the effective implementation of measures. Under the Public Health Act, responsibility for public health, prevention and health promotion at a local level lies with the local authorities (municipalities, in Dutch: 'gemeenten'). Every four years municipalities have to formulate a public health strategy for their area.

Municipal public health services

The responsibilities of local authorities regarding public health, prevention and health promotion are primarily carried out by their respective municipal public health services (usually known by the abbreviation 'GGDGeestelijke Gezondheidsdienst (mental health service)' i.e. Gemeentelijke/Gewestelijke Gezondheidsdienst in Dutch). There are around 30 of these in the Netherlands, each serving a particular region – and thus more than one local authority – or city. Municipal public health services carry out a wide range of public health-related activities. They can, for instance, develop and implement health promotion programmes that are tailored to the needs of local communities. Municipal public health services have developed their own local interventions around themes such as child obesity, excessive alcohol consumption and diabetes. They may also opt to implement interventions that are developed by others, for example by national health promotion institutes.

Examples of RIVM's areas of work

International recognition

In 2018, the World Health Organization (WHO) found RIVM's Centre for Healthy Living a prime example of how the Dutch national government has taken up its stewardship role within the health promotion landscape for effective health promotion in the Netherlands.

Read the WHO Policy brief RIVM Centre for Healthy Living in the Netherlands: Building sustainable capacity and alliances for effective health promotion

Website Centre for Healthy Living

The Centre for Healthy Living supports health promotion professionals and local authorities through the “” web portal.  On this website, the database with recognised lifestyle interventions is available. The Centre also facilitates websites for healthy schools and healthy child care.  Go to the website.