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Philips Foundation and Stichting GelijkGezond join forces to reduce health disparities in the Netherlands

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May 03, 2024

By the Philips Foundation team

Reducing health disparities. That is the goal of the new collaboration between the Philips Foundation and Stichting GelijkGezond. The partnership focuses on increasing the lifespans of people earning minimum wages by offering structural support and tackling non-medical barriers, including financial challenges, limited access to crucial services, and social support.


In the Netherlands, the health disparities between people with different income levels are significant. For instance, men belonging to the lowest 20% income group have, on average, more than a 9-year lower life expectancy than men from the highest 20% income group, according to figures from CBS StatLine [1]. In other words, men with lower incomes generally have shorter lives than those with higher incomes. The difference in healthy life expectancy is even up to 22 years. For women, the difference in life expectancy was almost 8 years, the figures from CBS show. This gap continues to grow and calls for urgent action.


Stichting GelijkGezond – a Dutch non-governmental organization – aims to increase the number (of healthy) life years for people with a minimum income and thereby reduce health disparities. Stichting GelijkGezond improves support by offering caregivers additional time, financial flexibility, and better organizational structures. In this model, Stichting GelijkGezond allocates financial resources upfront, while health insurers contribute later, based on the actual reductions achieved in healthcare costs.


Addressing issues outside the medical domain


Many of the problems that patients typically bring to their general practitioners can largely be solved in the social domain. Consider individuals with stress symptoms due to debt issues who are unable to access debt assistance, or those who do not have the financial means to afford co-payments for physiotherapy or dental care, which can cause a minor issue to develop into more serious complaints.


Stichting GelijkGezond is committed to supporting these individuals in addressing their underlying issues. Healthcare professionals, such as general practitioners, community nursing, and ambulatory mental health services, are fundamental in identifying problems and, through collaboration with Stichting GelijkGezond, have the opportunity to offer broader assistance beyond medical care to their patients. The organization works closely with municipalities and builds on existing programs in the Netherlands.


Thanks to the support of the Philips Foundation for Stichting GelijkGezond, an important step is being taken to reduce this health gap in the Netherlands.


Joris van Eijck, founder of Stichting GelijkGezond, said: “Behind the statistics are people with real problems, such as lack of (healthy) housing, unemployment, debt, health issues, mental challenges, loneliness, and/or poverty. In the existing healthcare system, they are often overlooked. Thanks to the support of the Philips Foundation, Stichting GelijkGezond can provide these people with structural support by better equipping professionals with extra time, (financial) flexibility, and organizational capacity.”


Through collaboration with the Philips Foundation, Stichting GelijkGezond also leverages Philips' knowledge. This includes economic aspects of healthcare, building strong health systems, and insights into the Dutch healthcare sector. The collaboration demonstrates a commitment to creating social impact. This initiative contributes to Philips Foundation's goal of driving a positive change for people with limited access to care.




[1] CBS Statline (2023). Gezonde levensverwachting; inkomen en welvaart

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