Important role for general practitioners and districts in public health

They demonstrate in Delfshaven that GPs can play an important role in public health. They have been there every Saturday since May at the Visserijmarkt to prevent a vaccination gap. By seeking out, listening and informing vulnerable people about covid-19. Together with neighborhood buddies who can also speak to people in their own language. This is to counterbalance the misinformation that, among other things, finds a breeding ground in the growing distrust of the government.

Doctors experience the urgency in their practice every day. In vulnerable neighborhoods with major health inequalities, the risk of a serious form of Covid-19 is high, as a result of which GPs often see patients with respiratory distress. The information campaign by the general practitioners was accompanied by a prick campaign in the nearby community centre, in collaboration with GGD, Erasmus MC and medical students. After six months of persistence, the vaccination rate is now close to the urban average.

When the GPs also saw an imminent booster gap, the GPs again decided to remove all barriers and organize four injection days in the community center during their Christmas holidays. It worked, with the market day being a peak day with almost a thousand jabs!

In addition to ‘involved general practitioners’, a ‘connected neighbourhood’ is an important success factor. After the first covid measures in March 2020, we founded Delfshaven Helpt, a partnership of all parties in the neighborhood to help residents through the covid-19 pandemic. The enormous network in Delfshaven extends to the capillaries of the district, ensuring that information and calls about vaccinations reach the target group quickly.

For public health it is essential to reach the risk groups and remove barriers. Delfshaven shows how this can be done in its approach to covid-19: through a fine interaction between general practitioners, GGD and neighborhood network. A method from which we can draw important lessons for tackling the growing socio-economic health inequalities.

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Ineke Palm, street epidemiologist (and co-founder Delfshaven Helpt)

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