Public Health in the Netherlands

smokers_2001_2004_NL_RIVMThis RIVM (Rijksinstituut voor Volksgezondheit en Milieu)website includes a comprehensive Atlas of public health in the Netherlands.  For example, this map of smokers in the Netherlands, by region. While the average has dropped since 2001 from about 33% to 30%, there has been little change despite bans on smoking in many public places in 2004.  The 30% rate, according to the BBC in a November 2004 article, was higher than all other European countries except Spain, Greece, and Germany.  Also to be noted, in September 2007, RIVM launched a new “Milieuportal“, targeting environmental professionals (and consumers), tracking air and water quality.

smokers_2016_NL_RIVMUpdate 28/5/2018:  The Atlas website has a new link.  The latest smokers (rokers) map does show a large drop.  It would be interesting to look at the data sources, but the maps give the picture.  Highest rates in 2016 are 10 points lower than 2004 values.  The Milieuportaal seems to have disappeared, but the RIVM site has a wealth of information.

MS Researach with GIS

esri_healthygis_articleThe spring edition of “Healthy GIS“, ESRI’s newsletter for GIS users in healthcare fields, features a fascinating article about a young (18 years old) researcher who is investigating the causes of MS, using GIS software.  Correlating data on the incidence of Multiple Sclerosis by US county with the incidence of  Lyme disease, Megen Blewett, has developed a hypothesis about a possible cause for MS: secondary tick bites.  Whether or not this hypothesis is scientifically and bio-medically validated (apparently scientists are now looking into this), the article illustrates a fascinating approach to medical research which is probably greatly underutilized.  As young Megan herself explained, the greatest difficulty was finding the data.  She claims to now have (to her knowledge) ”the largest standardized data set of Lyme information.”  She wants to expand her research globally.  Her website is: (no longer exists).  Note, this is a case where GIS software (such is ESRI ArcGIS) must be used for spatial statistics, but it is fantastic to think about Google Maps / Earth becoming tools for sharing the results.

Update 31/5/2018: Where is she now? Starting a promising career it seems.  Megan Blewett.