A new safeguard agreement is in the works for a healthier society, but it remains to be seen if it really works this time around

The government allocates an additional 500 million euros annually to prevention. Through the new Active and Healthy Living Agreement (GALA), municipalities can apply for money to get residents on a healthy path.

More attention, more money, and better cooperation for a healthier society. This is the goal of the Healthy and Active Living Agreement (GALA).

health gap

A preventative agreement like this is badly needed, because there is a growing health gap in the Netherlands. People with only a primary education diploma or pre-professional secondary education live on average about 5 years less than people with a higher vocational or university education.

The first group also lived for 15 fewer healthy years than the second group.


The widest ban agreement to date

The agreement was recently signed by, among others, Martin van Ogen, Minister of State for Health, Welfare and Sport, Connie Helder, Minister for Long-Term Care and Sport, and Ernst Kuipers, Minister for Health, Science and Sport. The Federation of Dutch Municipalities, health insurance companies and all GGDs also joined. This makes GALA the widest prevention agreement to date.

It is no longer voluntary

With GALA, an additional half a billion euros are allocated to prevention each year. The Dutch should smoke and drink less, eat healthier and exercise more, that’s the goal. Municipalities and the Secretary of State are politically responsible for achieving the prevention goals set out in the Convention. So the non-binding nature of previous initiatives disappears.

GALA states how to achieve a healthy generation in 2040, with healthy people who grow up, live, work, and reside in a socially and physically healthy living environment.

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pressure on society

But many initiatives predated GALA and failed. The 2018 National Prevention Convention, announced with great fanfare, has achieved little in the area of ​​prevention. Almost half of the targets set for smoking, alcohol consumption and exercise were not met.

A change must happen in the Global Health Work Act (GALA), because the Netherlands is becoming increasingly unhealthy, less mobile, and mental health is deteriorating. Not only is this an individual problem, it also puts a lot of pressure on society.

Cautiously optimistic

The question is whether this new initiative will achieve what other initiatives have failed to do. “We have it all health, young people at a healthy weight, promising starter programme, and of course the NPA and countless other pilots, testing grounds and initiatives. It’s very fragmented,” says Helmond-Aldermann Kathalien Dortmans.

However, as a signatory on behalf of the Federation of Municipalities of the Netherlands (VNG), she is cautiously optimistic. “GALA offers us the opportunity to approach prevention in a broader context, for example by also looking at reducing poverty and loneliness. Municipalities can now also make more assertive choices. GALA funds give us the opportunity to structurally support local initiatives over the years.”

No more insulin injections

According to Wim Tilburgs of Helmond, it is urgent that we start living healthier. He himself had been overweight for years and suffered from type 2 diabetes. He eventually managed to turn it around by eating healthier and exercising more. He lost weight and at some point no longer had to have insulin injections. “Netherlands is now so unhealthy that doctors can no longer solve this problem. You have to intervene at the front.”

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“It is a social problem that has to do with the living environment and social structures,” he says. In order to also help others live healthier lives, the Tilburgs started the Je Leefstijl Als Medicine Foundation. “When you come to us, you’ll be dealing with people who understand what you’re dealing with. And that often works better than a fit young lifestyle coach with a BMI, ed. Take that with something about it soon.”

“Talk to people, not about people.”

Although Tilburgs encourages the Dutch to start living healthier lives, he doubts whether GALA is having enough of an impact: “The same system players get busy over and over again. Then it becomes more of the same and a lot ends up on conference tables again.” “

He believes other players are to blame, like citizens like himself and social workers. In any case, GGD should not be the most important link as it is now envisioned in GALA. That is too much. Top to bottom, very bureaucratic. Talk to people, not people, when it comes to their health.”

Megan Vasquez

"Creator. Coffee buff. Internet lover. Organizer. Pop culture geek. Tv fan. Proud foodaholic."

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