The Dutch public health and healthcare will face three crucial challenges in the period to 2050. This is according to RIVM’s preview of the Dutch Public Health Foresight Study 2024. These challenges include improving the health of all Dutch residents, enabling good-quality care and support, and addressing the impact of climate change on health and the living environment.  

A healthy lifestyle, including physical exercise and a healthy diet, is pivotal for the first challenge. A considerable portion of the Dutch population lacks a healthy lifestyle. Many people are overweight already, and their number will increase in the future. In addition, some people have poorer health outcomes because of the conditions in which they work and live. The exact nature of these outcomes differs per situation. Poverty, for instance, has different consequences for single older men than for families with young children. Therefore, the health impacts for various groups should be considered in policies that influence such living conditions.

Enabling good-quality care and support

The second challenge is to enable good-quality care and support. The demand for care will increase in the years to come, mainly because increasing numbers of people live to a greatly advanced age. Care demands are also becoming more complicated, because people suffer from multiple health problems at once. Additionally, there is a growing shortage of professionals and informal carers. This makes it essential to ponder the questions of what constitutes good-quality care and whether we can deliver it in other ways in the future than we currently do. A key consideration here is what ‘quality of life’ means to people.

Improving health through the living environment

The third challenge is climate change and its implications for the health and living environment of people. Climate change affects health through potentially dangerous phenomena like heat stress and floods. Simultaneously, adjustments to the living environment that adress climate change can also present opportunities for health. As an example, creating cool spots with greenery and water help to capture heat, while at the same time encouraging people to go outside, exercise and get together. Again, it is important that all people in the Netherlands have access to this.

Full Dutch Public Health Foresight Study to be published in June 2024

Every four years, RIVM examines trends in public health and healthcare. It does so at the request of the Ministry of Health, Welfare and Sport. RIVM releases this preview due to the early elections and cabinet formation. It includes insights that are currently known. The full Public Health Foresight Study will be published in June 2024 and will include possible solutions. Then we will also be publishing data on trends in crucial factors such as the anticipated future well-being of the Dutch population and prevalence of future diseases.