What is the Public Health Monitor?

Insight into health required to continue to be a healthy city
Utrecht is a large and growing city. The city is expected to have 400,000 inhabitants in 2027. Insight into the health of Utrecht residents is essential for a healthy, growing city. The Public Health Monitor Utrecht (Volksgezondheidsmonitor Utrecht, VMU) continuously monitors the health of Utrecht residents. Once every four years, we take stock of the health situation in the Utrecht Health Profile: a summary of the latest health figures and the major developments concerning public health in Utrecht.

The Public Health Monitor Utrecht is intended for residents, professionals and policy-makers
Insights from the Public Health Monitor Utrecht are intended for residents, professionals and policymakers. This information helps them enhance their own insights and make well-considered choices. Positive developments concerning health in Utrecht are made visible. Additionally, developments that require attention or differences between population groups in Utrecht are addressed. The Public Health Monitor Utrecht and the Utrecht Health Profile together are a major source for the municipal health policy. The Public Health Monitor Utrecht is not an evaluation of policy in practice (which requires a different type of research). However, insights can be used as part of accounting or evaluation.

The Public Health Monitor Utrecht: more than figures
Researchers at the municipality of Utrecht continuously collect and analyse data from various sources. There is also close contact with knowledge institutes and organisations that have access to Utrecht data. By participating and by building an active network, we ensure that insights into health in Utrecht increase. Next, we interpret these insights in collaboration with residents and social partners. The result is a comprehensive picture of what is going on and of what Utrecht considers important when it comes to health. These current issues and important public values give direction to setting priorities and to the joint effort. Exchanging knowledge and insights has a connecting effect. The process as described above is an on-going process. Once every four years, we take stock of the health situation. The next Utrecht Health Profile will be published in February 2018.


Health is an end as well as a means
Almost everyone puts ‘health’ first when it comes to the most important things in life. Good health is an essential condition for individual happiness in life. A healthy and vigorous population also has a great social benefit. People who are healthy can participate in society, and participation enhances one’s health. Health, therefore, is an end as well as a means.



Health has a broad definition
Much consideration is given world-wide – so also in Utrecht – to redefining health as ‘the ability to adapt and conduct one’s own control from the perspective of the physical, emotional and social challenges of life.’ This is a positive approach to health, with an emphasis on well-being and resilience.
The World Health Organisation describes health as ‘a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being.’ This definition does not do justice to people with one or more chronic diseases or impairments. Although they have a disease or impairment, they can perceive a good quality of life and fully participate in society.
 
The municipality of Utrecht has the statutory obligation to monitor health
The Public Health Monitor Utrecht is a statutory task. Pursuant to the Public Health Act (Wet publieke gezondheid), municipalities have to conduct their policy based on knowledge about public health in the respective municipality. In Utrecht, this task is executed by researchers and epidemiologists of the municipality of Utrecht (formerly the GG&GD Utrecht) in close collaboration with the Municipal Health Service (Gemeentelijke Gezondheidsdienst, GGD), Utrecht region. Additionally, we collaborate with many parties in the city on co-production. The municipality of Utrecht has formulated the ambition in the municipal executive agreement 2014-2018 (in Dutch only) to further strengthen the Public Health Monitor Utrecht as an independent monitor.
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