Everyone in the Netherlands – at a certain point in their lives - will be invited to take part in one of the national population screening programs. Most programs are intended to identify (life threatening) diseases at the earliest possible stage so that prompt treatment can be given. The screening programs help to enhance public health. In case of the Down’s, Edwards' and Patau syndromes screening, the program is meant to inform parents on their options.

The RIVM Centre for Population Screening (CvB) directs, manages and coordinates the national population screening programs for cervical cancer, breast cancer, bowel cancer, Down’s syndrome screening, the 20-week ultrasound, the heel prick program, newborn hearing screening and pregnancy blood screening. This ensures that the chain of health care providers responsible for diagnosis and treatment can function as effectively as possible. Each link in that chain has its own responsibilities and authority. The centre is also responsible for providing clear public information. In addition to the screening programmes, CvB is responsible for the Dutch national influenza prevention program. It coordinates and directs all these programmes on behalf of the Ministry of Health, Welfare and Sport (VWS).

Population screening programmes

VOICE-OVER: The Centre for Population Screening directs and coordinates
the seven national population screening programmes
that are offered by the Dutch Government.
In this presentation, we explain the core activities and responsibilities
of the Centre for Population Screening.
There are seven population screening programmes
offered by the Ministry of Health, Welfare and Sport.
Each of the seven screening programmes is offered to a unique group of people.
They include pregnant women, newborns and adults in different age groups,
without symptoms of the disease under investigation.
A large number of organisations carry out the population screening programmes.
Each party has its own responsibilities and authority.
Thanks to the joint efforts of these organisations and their professionals,
the population screening programmes contribute to a healthier society.
The Minister of Health, Welfare and Sport is ultimately responsible
for the national population screening programme.
The minister is at the head of the organisation of screening programmes.
She makes final decisions, determines the preconditions,
distributes assignments and finances the programmes.
The Ministry of Health, Welfare and Sport
has given the Centre for Population Screening the assignment and the assets
to coordinate the seven population screening programmes.
The centre is also responsible for the national influenza prevention programme.
The task of the Centre for Population Screening is to achieve health benefits
through a range of high-quality population screening programmes.
The screening programmes should be accessible, safe and integrated
within the healthcare system at reasonable costs.
Effectiveness, quality and affordability are therefore among the predominant criteria
within the screening programmes.
The Ministry of Health, Welfare and Sport
has given the Centre for Population Screening the assignment
and provided the finances to coordinate the seven population screening programmes.
The Centre for Population Screening further distributes assignments
and finances to the private and the public sectors.
The tasks and responsibilities to implement screening are devolved to executing parties
that, in the centre's experience, are most competent.
This is often done by setting up contracts or agreements with executing parties.
The centre oversees all collaboration and makes sure that it works out successfully.
We will now give a more detailed example of the key responsibilities
of the Centre for Population Screening.
The centre either finances population screening itself
or directs other organisations to do this.
Financing is mainly achieved through procurement or subsidies.
With procurement, detailed demands and preferences are drafted,
in regards to the provision of a service or product.
For example, a laboratory analysis or a mammography machine.
The demands and preferences are then published in the market,
so private companies can compete for the contract to deliver the service or product.
The company that can deliver the service or product at the best price-quality ratio
is granted a contract.
With subsidies, an organisation in the screening process,
such as a midwife organisation or a GP organisation,
is approached to do additional work for the screening programme.
The quality requirements and the amount of time that needs to be spent on each activity
will be agreed on, and then the costs for the additional work estimated.
The Centre for Population Screening is responsible
for executing or overseeing the procurement and subsidy processes.
The centre is in charge of assessing quality and assuring the quality
of all seven screening programmes.
In many cases, a reference function, an independent assessor, is set up
for assessing the quality of screening professionals and screening equipment.
Licences and permits are granted by the assessor,
and regular inspections take place.
The assessor optimises and safeguards medical, technical and physical quality.
The Centre for Population Screening is responsible
for the quality of entire programmes and designs quality assurance systems.
It drafts guidelines, scripts, training and accreditation requirements.
The centre is responsible for ensuring good information management
within the screening process and the executing organisations.
Digital information is crucial in managing the primary process
of planning, selecting, inviting and screening the population.
The Centre for Population Screening directs huge IT systems and operations
on linking the information needed from all kinds of different data sources.
With the right information in the right place, key processes can be monitored.
The centre is also responsible
for monitoring the quality of screening programmes
and evaluating aspects for improvement.
Each year, the Centre for Population Screening publishes a monitor report
on the key indicators of each programme.
These monitors are prepared by independent external parties.
They are used for accountability
and for checking the effectiveness, quality and affordability of the programmes.
The centre also commissions scientific evaluations from external research parties.
Strategies for optimisation, explanation of trends and long-term revenues of the centre
are regularly evaluated to improve the screening programmes.
The centre is in charge of balanced communication with the public,
with professionals and with stakeholders.
The Centre for Population Screening is responsible for providing folders
to invitees and professionals.
Information in these folders should be balanced,
so invitees can make an informed decision on whether or not to participate.
The folders are always pretested, using a panel of target group representatives.
The centre also actively updates online information,
follows social media and responds to social media.
The centre furthermore pools knowledge from its broad network
and guides innovations throughout this network.
The broad network is proactively maintained.
Together with many partner organisations, the centre produces and pools knowledge,
and provides access to the knowledge and expertise required
to implement screening programmes.
Together with partner organisations, the Centre for Population Screening
signals, prepares and implements new programmes,
and adapts existing programmes on an ongoing basis.
The centre takes the lead in implementing major innovations
and introducing new screening programmes.
It ensures that they are introduced according to the latest insights
within the existing infrastructure.
Last but not least, the centre advises and informs policymakers
from the Ministry of Health, Welfare and Sport on the latest issues.
The Centre for Population Screening ensures
that government policy is implemented.
But also that knowledge and developments from every day implementation
are channelled back to policymakers.
The centre considers it an honour
to coordinate the seven national population screening programmes
and is dedicated to carrying this out in a professional, business-like way.
Thanks to the joint efforts
of all the collaborating organisations and their professionals,
the Centre for Population Screening directs and coordinates
the seven population screening programmes
with great passion, expertise and transparency.
The centre hopes to continue to deliver an important contribution
to public health in the Netherlands.

(On-screen text: The Dutch National Population Screening Programme. RIVM Centre for Population Screening. 'Balance is Coordination'.)

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