On 11 November, iPH, ZonMw and the Health Council of the Netherlands organized a festive conference to reflect together on 10 years of working and thinking from this dynamic vision on health and to explore the route towards a resilient society.

What do we have to do together to make Positive Health and Trusted Networks work in all domains, so that health inequalities become smaller, we age more vigorously, and we can talk to each other about social issues? What impact will this have, and how can we keep healthcare affordable?

Key concept is connecting

Machteld refers to a book that inspired her greatly, namely ‘Amsterdam, history of the most liberal city in the world’ by the American Russel Shorto. Shorto describes how in the seventeenth century the Netherlands was a sanctuary of new ideas and discoveries. Here lies the seed of what would later become Western culture. But also a time when the philosopher Descartes stated that body and mind are two separate entities, a dichotomy that is still reflected in our contemporary health care. But as long as we see it that way, we remain – according to Machteld – stuck in a too one-sided care system. The key concept, according to her, is connecting. Let us look at man as a whole and as an inseparable part of nature and the social environment. Because of our pioneering role at the time, we may now have a debt of honour. It would then also be up to the Netherlands to initiate this new movement. Let’s follow our hearts in healthcare, use our heads and then do something with both, says Machteld.

Trusted Networks as a foundation

Alex Jadad starts off by showing a picture of a group of parachutists hanging in formation in the air with their parachutes still closed. This illustrates the importance of trust in each other and that the mutual connections determine the strength of the group. According to Jadad, our lives are built on networks, both physical and digital. Each of us has an inner circle, around which is a circle of friends and around which is a larger circle. These multiply into a network, which is part of the greater whole. It is there, but it is not visible. There are many things we cannot see, such as climate change and the coronavirus. It takes faith and trust in each other to be able to tackle these global, large-scale challenges and come up with solutions. Trusted Networks are the foundation of a new adaptive society.

In the afternoon there was  a special online programme for our international participants. to join in the English livestream.

  • Introduction of EuroHealthNet, work on health equity and positive health, examples and experiences from the partnership.
  • Working with Positive Health, broad perspective of health, patient empowerment, various international experiences: Iceland, Denmark, Spain, UK and from the project Vitality for the Future.


Karolien van den Brekel

General Practitioner and consultant prevention/positive health on local, regional and (inter)national level and author "Handboek Positieve Gezondheid in huisartspraktijk, samenwerken aan betekenisvolle zorg"

Barbara Piper-Roelofs

Senior Advisor Education & International Programs Positive Health
Machteld Huber

Machteld Huber

Founder and strategic advisor iPH

Alex Jadad

Founder, Centre for Global eHealth Innovation, Toronto, Canada

Caroline Costongs

Director at EuroHealthNet and expert in public health and health promotion