What is a chronic disease?
When a person has a chronic disease, they have no prospect of a full recovery. Not all chronic diseases follow the same pattern. In some cases, symptoms appear periodically, as with epilepsy or asthma. In others, patients experience symptoms every day, as is the case with diabetes and rheumatism. In all cases, people live with chronic illness for a long time, and make intensive use of the care and support provided by doctors, nurses, professional carers, informal carers and pharmacists.
Why research chronic disease?
ZonMw believes it is important that everyone can participate in society to the greatest possible extent, and that everyone has control over their life and disease process. This is not always the case for people who are chronically ill. Furthermore, the number of people with chronic illnesses is growing, partly because our average life expectancy is increasing. As a result, more people need long-term care and support, which is putting the healthcare system under increasing strain.
ZonMw is investing in research and practical projects to teach us more about the onset, treatment and prevention of chronic disease. We are for example focusing on topics like diet and nutrition and a healthy living environment. We are also funding projects about living with chronic illness, addressing subjects such as how to find and keep a job if you are chronically ill.
What studies is ZonMw funding?
- Diet and health are connected. A healthy diet can help prevent some chronic diseases. But it is difficult to precisely pinpoint the effect of diet on health. This has been explored in the JPI HDHL programme.
- Many people with a chronic illness suffer from fatigue. In some diseases, such as Lyme disease, Q fever en ME/CFS, fatigue is one of the main symptoms. Read about what ZonMw is doing in this field on our fatigue page.
- We rarely think twice about providing care for someone with a chronic illness, but other aspects of life, such as education, work and leisure, are sometimes overlooked. The Voor elkaar! (For each other) programme funds projects by and for patients designed to help them regain and retain control over their lives and participate equally in society.
- For many people, work is an important aspect of social participation, even for people with a chronic illness. But it can be difficult for them to find or keep a suitable job. Projects in the Onbeperkt meedoen! (Participation without limitation!) programme and the Vakkundig aan het werk (Experts at work) programme focus on this issue.
If you would like to know more about ZonMw’s other programmes and projects on the subject of chronic disease, see our projects database, and the list of news items and articles about chronic disease below.