The Netherlands Centre for Ethics and Health (CEG) was founded by the Minister of Health, Welfare and Sport (letter of foundation CEG 14/9/2001). The CEG identifies and informs about developments in the field of health which deserve a place on the government’s ethical policy agenda.
The CEG forms part of the Health Council and the Council for Health and Society, and as such is a joint venture. The CEG is therefore in a position to make the best possible use of the specific knowledge available in both these advisory councils regarding ethics and health. The CEG was set up in accordance with recommendations made in the report ‘Ethiek met beleid’ (‘Ethics with policy’) issued by the former Council for Public Health and Health Care in 1999.
Why is a Centre for Ethics and Health necessary?
The rapid developments in the field of medicine and biology can give rise to ethical questions. For example, should everything that is possible also be permissible? In addition, budgetary limitations prompt the question of what constitutes a fair distribution of resources. Opinions on issues like these often differ considerably. In order to pursue effective policy, it is necessary to take full stock of the issues at stake and to involve society in the process of coming up with the answers. This is the only approach that can enable the government to fulfill its obligation in the field of healthcare as set out in the Dutch constitution.
What does the CEG do?
The CEG has the following tasks:
Monitoring and reporting
The CEG identifies new developments in bioscience, healthcare and society which are important for public health from an ethical perspective and reports in this regard to the Minister of Health, Welfare and Sport, the parliament, stakeholders and interested third parties. This process might include ethical aspects of medical treatments, the actual situation in the healthcare sector, healthy behavior, nutrition and the environment.
Informing and referring
The CEG informs patients, professionals, policy makers and interested parties about issues relating to ethics and health. It does so through the medium of the CEG website. The CEG makes a great deal of information available on this website regarding specific subjects, legislation, organizations and institutes in the field of ethics and health. The site also features a calendar of conferences and other public events.
Networking and coordinating
In connection with its tasks of monitoring, information and referral, the CEG maintains contacts with organizations and experts in the field of ethics and health within the Netherlands and throughout the world.