About this programme

The ZonMw Palliative care programme aims to achieve a noticeable improvement in palliative care for patients and their families, with collaboration, identification and stimulation as the keywords: collaboration where possible and necessary, identification of what is going well or could be done better, and stimulation of new initiatives.

National and international collaboration

The ZonMw Palliative care programme is designed to act as a stimulator of palliative care across the board: not only knowledge development and dissemination, but also collaboration between many parties whose joints efforts should bring about structural improvements in palliative care in the Netherlands.
The Netherlands offers high standards of palliative care compared with other countries (Palliatieve Zorg in beeld, 2014). The Palliative care programme is designed to foster scientific collaboration with international experts in this field to enable the Netherlands to retain this international position. The programme will also stimulate other international initiatives, including the sharing of practical experience and best practice, and international comparative studies.

Palliative care is part of the National Palliative Care Programme (NPPZ)

The ‘Palliative care’ programme and the grants it administers are not the only means of improving standards of palliative care in the Netherlands. The programme is part of a broader approach to palliative care, in which numerous organisations and care providers all play a crucial role. The Dutch Government has made improving palliative care a focal point of its policy, and launched the National Palliative Care Programme (NPPZ) in 2014.
The NPPZ encompasses ZonMw’s Palliative care programme, activities by regional partnerships (palliative care consortia) and an NPPZ steering group, established by the Ministry of Health, Welfare and Sport to coordinate efforts. Besides the ministry, all the relevant professional groups, insurers and organisations are represented in the steering group. The Government plans to invest EUR 51 million in the programme between 2014 and 2020.

Joint mission and goals

The joint mission is therefore to take palliative care in the Netherlands to another level by 2020. This is about more than just care. The focus will be on all aspects of people in the final stages of life: physical, psychological, social and spiritual – all factors that play a role in good palliative care.


  • The needs of patients and their families must play an important role. Quality of life and dignity are key. This also includes bereavement counselling.
  • Physical, psychological, social and spiritual factors must be taken into account and support offered in these areas. Patients must have as much control as possible over the final phase of their life.
  • Care providers must arrange palliative care as close to home as possible.
  • Extra consideration must be given to informal carers.
  • Palliative care should be part of regular healthcare provision.


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