New crisis organization in the NL ready to respond to pandemics within 48 hours
A new crisis organization is now in place and ready to take charge within 48 hours should another pandemic strike the Netherlands as it did in 2020. "We thought we were well-prepared back then, but to be honest, we weren't," said outgoing Health Minister Ernst Kuipers at the launch of the so-called National Functionality for Infectious Disease Control (LFI).
"We certainly hope we don't experience a crisis like Covid again, but we must be highly prepared for the possibility of another pandemic," Kuipers continued. In 2020, the response was to intervene as quickly as possible with existing organizations. The umbrella organization GGD GHOR played a significant role in managing the crisis. "But we're not really a crisis organization, we mainly stepped into that role because it was necessary," admitted chairman André Rouvoet when asked.
This needs to change in the future, the organizations agreed. In the event of a large-scale infectious disease outbreak, the LFI can swiftly scale up and lead on a national level in areas of testing, vaccination, and source and contact tracing. The LFI can also monitor and potentially prepare for infectious diseases that emerge worldwide.
The LFI operates under the public health institute RIVM. The launch took place at the institute in Bilthoven on Monday. The GGDs, the GGD GHOR, the RIVM, and the Ministry of Health jointly established the crisis organization.
The Ministry of Health announced in November that an additional 9 million euros would be made available for the establishment of the LFI, with an annual budget of 10 million euros.