Prevention dinner encourages healthy, active living in Amsterdam region

Health prevention was the theme of the working dinner that Amsterdam Economic Board organised March 27th for experts from business, government, knowledge and healthcare institutions.

The occasion followed the recent signing of the Healthy and Active Living Agreement (GALA). The starting point of this agreement between municipalities and GGDs, health insurers and the Dutch Ministry of Health, Welfare and Sport is that reduced health disparities and affordable healthcare are important conditions for a Broad Prosperity.

GALA serves as the foundation for a focused local and regional approach to prevention, health and social basics. This also gives momentum in the Amsterdam Metropolitan Area to focus energy and vigor on the area of prevention.

In addition, several members of our Board called for an open conversation about prevention in relation to health, as a complex and societal challenge where collaboration is essential.

Prevention high on the agenda

Society cannot afford to focus primarily on curing disease. Proper prevention could have avoided health problems. But prevention requires a different approach and different forms of financing. Many parties have already picked up the gauntlet to work more towards prevention; through lifestyle, mobility, using medical data, a sustainable living environment, through earlier diagnostics, etc. Prevention as a theme is high on the regional investment agenda formulated last year, the Transitieversneller Metropool Amsterdam (in Dutch).

Together with ROM InWest and the MRA Directie, the Amsterdam Economic Board initiated a push for this by organising a Healthy and Active Living working dinner in Amsterdam. Board members Robert Metzke (Philips) and Thalita van Elst (Nova College) had a brainstorming session with experts from corporates, knowledge and healthcare institutions and government agencies, to address the theme of Prevention from a wide range of perspectives. The evening began with three inspiring pitches:

  • Prevention opportunities with medical data – Michel van Schaik, Director Healthcare Rabobank
  • Prevention opportunities through a healthy lifestyle – Karen den Hertog, Director GGD Amsterdam-Amstelland
  • Prevention opportunities in a sustainable environment – Robert Thijssen, Programme Leader Innovatielab Sigra

Regional approach to Healthy and Active Living

Attendees engaged in a conversation about what Healthy and Active Living could look like in a Metropolitan Amsterdam in which Broad Prosperity would be the norm. What would be a regional approach to Healthy and Active Living? What are the regional challenges and how could we tackle them together? In three rounds, we had discussions at three tables about the three perspectives.

Discussed were the promotion of healthy lifestyles for young and old, the use of data as a predictor of the social impact of interventions and who should be responsible for promoting preventive health. The role of corporates and innovative startups was also highlighted. Attendees saw great opportunities for digitalisation by leveraging data and AI for preventive diagnosis and more focus on spatial planning, living and working in a green environment with clean air. Active mobility was also mentioned, by encouraging cycling and walking. In addition, social cohesion plays an important role in preventing disease.

Addressing sub-tasks

Based on the discussions, five sub-tasks were formulated for further action:

  • Employer Approach to Prevention – employers could offer a comprehensive health approach (checkup, bicycle incentives, etc.) for employees at all levels;
  • Startups for Prevention – helping startups in the field of prevention move forward through matchmaking; with funders, health insurers, pilots in healthcare facilities, etc;
  • Regional Prevention Coalition MRA – formation of a regional prevention coalition of corporates, knowledge and healthcare institutions and governments. This encourages collaboration, knowledge sharing and profiling. Establishing a regional health focus is important, for example through a top 10 of regional best practices;
  • System Dynamics & Digital Twins – using data for simulation modeling and the use of gamification to predict effects of prevention-oriented measures;
  • Neighbouring – having an approach at neighbourhood and district level is crucial. A prevention approach through the use and formation of local communities.

The next step is now to take stock of which parties want to take up which theme, identify possible follow-up actions and determine the role of the Amsterdam Economic Board.

Want to participate, have feedback or ideas on Healthy and Active Living in the Metropolis of Tomorrow? Please contact Richard Hoving or Gerty Holla.

14 April 2023

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