Netherlands not prepared for new pandemic: GGD
The Netherlands is not prepared for a new health crisis like a pandemic, Andre Rouvoet, chairman of health service umbrella organization GGD GHOR Nederland, said to NOS. Expert Henk Bekedam, former director of the World Health Organization who helped many countries strengthen their pandemic preparedness, also told the broadcaster that he is concerned about the Netherlands.
Rouvoet is particularly worried about the shortage of doctors specializing in infectious diseases. "There are real holes there, and we should not invest a little, but very substantially and very structurally. The number of these doctors must at least double to be prepared for the next pandemic," said Rouvoet.
The Cabinet promised 300 million euros per year for pandemic preparedness. But according to Rouvoet, that is not nearly enough. "I am afraid that a lot of that money will go to set up a crisis organization, and little will be left for public health. I make an urgent appeal to parliament. That really has to change," Rouvoet said.
Bekedam thinks the Netherlands needs to look further ahead than the current pandemic. "I now hear the government talking about a long-term plan for corona, but above all, there has to be a plan for the next outbreak, whatever it is. With such a preparedness plan, you have to look at the lessons you learned from the most recent outbreak. Such an evaluation has not yet been carried out in the Netherlands," he said to NOS.
Strengthening the GGDs is crucial for preparedness, Bekedam said. "The discussion in the Netherlands is often about ICU beds, but let's not forget that it is the GGDs that test and administer by far the most vaccinations. There is just far too little attention for public health. The GGDs have been financially stripped in recent years."