During last week’s Health conference Prevention, the Flemish government has announced its new health objectives concerning nutrition, physical exercise and alcohol, drug & cigarette consumption. Taking place on 16th and 17th of December 2016 in ICC Gent (Twitter: #Preventie16), the conference aimed to verify the public support for its newly defined strategies, as well as to educate on those strategies that have been proven successful in the past.
In a 15 minute video (Dutch), all ministers shed light on how they’re contributing to a better and healthier lifestyle in their specific domain. We’re delighted to see that the importance of a healthy lifestyle is now acknowledged by nearly all layers of our society, with the government taking the lead.
Flemish Prime Minister Geert Bourgeois states that healthcare is above all, a shared responsibility and the consequence of cooperation. We need to start working to a more future driven healthcare, wherein all stakeholders take their responsibility. “Nowadays, we’re talking about ‘active patients’, who decide for themselves which care and support they’ll get, as well as how and where they’ll receive it. Healthcare needs to evolve to a demand driven model, as opposed to the supply driven model we have today.” As a closing statement, the Prime Minister mentions the ever growing importance of prevention. Life expectancy is no longer a concern, but how long we’ll be able to stay healthy and productive, certainly is.
His colleagues, Deputy Prime Minister Liesbeth Homans and Minister of Mobility Ben Weyts, are respectively working on the accessibility of healthy nutrition and exercise. Minister Homans: “healthy food is a vital part of a healthy lifestyle, but eating healthy isn’t always that easy for everyone. Our €1 meal program, gives the less privileged access to proper nutrition.” Minister Weyts: “healthcare and mobility go hand in hand, especially when we’re talking about cycling. We as a people, are avid cyclers on Sunday, going for 150 km tours with our friends but unfortunately, we still prefer to take our car on Monday to travel short distances to work.”
Philippe Muyters, Minister of Work, Economics, Innovation and Sports, joins him: “New Year’s resolutions often translate into exercising more, but we see very little effect of those resolutions a few months later. It proves to be very difficult to find the time for sports, next to raising children and going to work. We’re hoping that our new sports infrastructure in 2017 will convince people to keep working on their physique.”
Minister of Wellbeing, National Health and Family, Jo Vandeurzen, elaborates on the newly updated health policy: “our policy needs to be coherent in order to be successful. This conference has clearly shown that health is in all policies. We can be satisfied with the evolution of our health, especially when we’re talking about alcohol, drug and tobacco consumption. We’re really making progress. There is however, still room for improvement and that’s why we need the continuous and additional interest of the entire government for this matter. We’ll have to further inform the public on how to live a healthy life, so that everyone can make the right choices. Together, we’re striving for a healthier Flanders in 2025.”
The Flemish government has got its priorities straight and that’s great! Its numerous initiatives are sure to have a positive effect on everyone’s health and therefor everyone’s quality of life. There are however, still some points that we need to work on. While individuals have started making changes in their daily routines, research shows that companies’, especially those in the profit sector with less than 50 employees, efforts have stagnated over the last three years. Of all businesses, only 60% have taken action to increase the health of their employees. A mere 30% of all enterprises, has a wellbeing program. For the most part, those wellbeing programs focus on smoking cessation, minimizing the alcohol and drugs intake, as well as increasing mental wellbeing. Healthy nutrition, exercise and countering the negative effects of sitting down too much, are all very important subjects that are oftentimes neglected when a wellbeing plan is being drafted, it seems.
The government has taken notice of this and is now working on a plan of their own to make sure all employers do what’s necessary. Finding time for sports, taking the bike to work and eating healthy, can all be incentivized at work. As an employer, you can have an enormous positive impact on the lives of your employees if you’re willing to.
Hercules Academy is delighted to support the Government’s objectives. We’ll gladly help your organisation in creating a tailor-made and holistic wellbeing program for the employees of your company –large or small. The benefits of such a program, are numerous and far surpass ‘just’ being a great employer. Healthy employees, are productive employees, as the Prime Minister stated. Let’s join our government in enabling everyone to live a better life, in and out of the office!