Speaker: Arjan van Dijk, RIVM National Institute for Public Health and the Environment
Harmful effects from UV-exposure are manifest. Skin cancer incidence in the Netherlands has gone up by a factor of 4 in the past 25 years and another factor of 5 increase is foreseen in the coming 25 years. Many different organizations in the Netherlands engage in skin cancer prevention, but their actions are incoherent. Consequently, the public is left a divided: "What to do?". The government has called for action and started a project to come to a unified approach, called the "UV-Index Action Plan".
A consortium of all stakeholders is formed: ministry of health, national institute of public health and the environment, national weather service, society of dermatologists, society of eye doctors, cancer prevention foundation, skin care foundation, eye care foundation, several academic hospitals, the cancer registry bureau and the society of melanoma patients. Commercial parties are excluded from participation until further notice, but individual partners are allowed to have professional relations with them. The goals of the (growing) consortium are: coordination of communication strategies, exchange of experience, maintenance of a common knowledge agenda (including best practices from other countries), prioritization of knowledge gaps and compilation of scientific research proposals to address these gaps. A web-based discussion forum is used to facilitate and organize discussions among the members on the relevant topics.
Results and Discussion
The project is in its initial stage. An inventory is being made of the penetration of all partners in the different target groups in society, of the respective advices that are given and of the communication strategies to convey them. An agenda is compiled for national or regional regular communications in the name of the consortium, e.g. when a high UV-index is expected, at the start of the (summer and winter) holiday season, national holidays, large festivals etc. We seek a way to assess today the effectiveness that the UV-Index Action Plan will have in the future. Due to lag of several decades between exposure and resulting skin cancer, we cannot afford to monitor just the development of the skin cancer incidences. In a few decades, dramatically risen incidences will be a fait accompli. We must take the right action now.
UV-exposure has to change to avert a disaster and the UV-Index Action Plan is the Dutch initiative to reach this goal. Suggestions are welcome.