The prospects for future public health in the Netherlands are good. Our life expectancy is steadily increasing, and most people feel healthy and do not experience activity limitations. Nevertheless, we face some major future challenges. The seventh Public Health Foresight study describes the societal challenges we will be facing and how we can deal with them.

The Public Health Foresight study 2018 shows how our public health and health care sector will develop over the coming 25 years if we, as a society, do not take any extra measures. Our ageing population results in an increase in the number of older persons. These persons also live alone and independently more frequently. More people will suffer from chronic diseases such as dementia, cancer, and cardiovascular diseases, and these diseases will also occur more often in combination with each other. As a result, health care will become more complex. Care is also changing as a result of technological developments and because patients are increasingly doing more themselves. More pressure is being put on informal caregivers. In addition, we are faced with increasingly busy cities and flexible contracts, and young people are feeling increasing levels of pressure to perform. The above are some of the major challenges we are facing.

These challenges demand a new way of working. We will have to collaborate more; this applies to policymakers, citizens, patients, caregivers, researchers, and social organisations. While doing so, the focus should be on the personal situation of each individual. This also means that we need to look beyond the scope of the public health sector and care sector as such. A healthy environment, school, and workplace are essential for a healthy future.

Much is already being done within society in relation to public health and care to be better prepared for the future. We can learn from this and use it as a base to build on further.

The Public Health Foresight study is published once every four years at the request of the Ministry of Health, Welfare and Sport. Through this study, RIVM contributes to public health policy in the Netherlands. The Public Health Foresight study 2018 consists of several elements, some of which are available in English: the Trend Scenario and the main conclusions of the Thematic foresight studies. Later this year, the Synthesis will be published in English. The complete Public Health Foresight study 2018 can be accessed at