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Links 08 the future of Food & Biotech
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Health Council of the Netherlands - Gezondheidsraad Views: 10857
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The Health Council of the Netherlands (Gezondheidsraad) is an independent advisory body whose task is to advise Ministers and Parliament in the field of public health. Ministers ask the Health Council for advice on which to base policy decisions. In addition, the Health Council has an "alerting" function, which also allows it to give unsolicited advice. The underlying purpose in both cases is the improvement of public health, whether the advice relates to the effectiveness of breast cancer screening, research into stem cells, prevention of obesity, the quality of natural bathing water, the impact of night-time light pollution on human beings and nature, or occupational exposure to diesel fumes or chlorotrimethylsilane. Both forms of advice (solicited and unsolicited) provide scientific support for the development of ministerial policy. The Health Council paints an accurate picture of the current level of knowledge and weighs the different options that are available for the effective improvement of public health. This does not mean formulating pioneering answers to scientific problems. The Health Council works with whatever knowledge is available at a particular moment in time. Interpreting and assessing this knowledge is, in any case, an exceedingly complex task, since researchers come up with divergent results and data are not always easy to interpret. Moreover, there is an abundance of material in each individual area. In order to do justice to this complex situation, around two hundred have been assembled within the Health Council. The Health Council does not meet in plenary session, but works in ad-hoc committees on each particular advisory report. These committees consist of Council Members who are specialists in the area in question and also external experts who are not members of the Health Council. Together, these experts endeavour to reach a consensus on the interpretation and assessment of the current level of knowledge. Advisory reports are reviewed by one or more of the Council's eight standing committees before they are presented to the Minister who requested it.

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