The PDPC Academy

The PDPC Academy aims to catalyse, connect and share the PDPC expertise and philosophy through knowledge transfer and education, and an academic workplace.

Knowledge transfer and education

The PDPC Academy aims to facilitate postgraduate students working on theses on one of the key PDPC topics. Students will receive education and supervision in addition to their study programmes. We are exploring several education methods, such as interdisciplinary case-based learning and possibilities for post-academic knowledge transfer. You can find the first results here: the PDPC webinars.

Academic Workplace: policy, practice and research

With its academic workplace, the PDPC fulfills a deficiency by providing short-term knowledge on pandemics and disasters. External parties and PDPC researchers, can suggest research questions to the PDPC workplace. The short-term research projects will result in a knowledge agenda that leads to in-depth scientific research. Within the PDPC Academy framework, we work closely with stakeholders, such as the Municipal Public Health Services (GGDs), the Port of Rotterdam and ministries. The Academic workplace unites questions and answers and strives to share them widely in an open-source format.

The academic workplace is intended for applied research that combines three key pillars: policy, practice and research. Examples of short-term research projects are listed below.

Knowledge agenda for health systems resilience research

Researchers from Erasmus School of Health Policy & Management and the Pandemic & Disaster Preparedness Centre publish a knowledge agenda on resilience in healthcare. The knowledge agenda brings together the key policy and science questions for a resilient Dutch healthcare system. In disasters and pandemics, healthcare institutions are expected to be resilient, but what is actually meant by resilience? And what else do we need to know to make healthcare systems more resilient?

That’s what researchers Robert Borst, Karin van Vuuren, Bert de Graaff and Roland Bal aim to answer with the knowledge agenda. They conducted a literature review and analysis of policy documents, among others, related to the COVID-19 pandemic and flooding in Limburg in 2021. They also held qualitative interviews with experts from different fields of Dutch healthcare. Read more here.

Learning from a crisis

At the beginning of the corona pandemic, advice to the government mainly consisted of the biomedical perspective. To avoid this in the future, the Pandemic Disaster Preparedness Center (PDPC) presents an interdisciplinary report and whitepaper that also explains the sociocultural and economic perspective. ‘Let this mark the beginning of more collaboration.’ Read more. 

The report ‘Learning from a crisis’ outlines pandemic preparedness in the Netherlands throughout the COVID-19 pandemic with respect to gathering crucial information and converting this into advice for policymakers. We evaluated numerous aspects of pandemic preparedness by conducting in-depth sessions with experts across different domains.

The whitepaper is based on two short simulations. During the simulations, a diverse group of scientists investigated what joint, integrated advice could look like during a pandemic. Integrated advice involves biomedical, social, and economic domains providing joint, collective recommendations to policymakers.

Learning from a Crisis

Underserved groups

The disease burden of COVID-19 infection, morbidity, and mortality is unevenly distributed across different population subgroups. A one-size-fits-all approach may not reach all groups. Identifying barriers and drivers that influence people’s behaviour towards COVID-19 public health and social measures (PHSM) (i.e. vaccination, testing and other measures) is a crucial step when designing tailored interventions.

The World Health Organization (WHO) has developed the Tailoring Health Programmes (THP) approach to assist countries in diagnosing barriers and drivers to health protective behaviours. We present the findings of the situation analysis, phase 1 of the THP approach. The aim was threefold: 1) to identify the population subgroups with a lower uptake and adherence to COVID-19 PHSM, 2) gain an overview the previously identified barriers and drivers of the general population and population subgroups, and 3) to obtain an overview of interventions and research initiated by various stakeholders in the Netherlands.


Investigating knowledge gaps

Lessons learned for an integrated assessment framework: a joint project involving the PDPC, UMC Utrecht, the Council of Public Health & Society (RVS) and the Netherlands Institute for Social Research.

The Dutch approach adopted during the COVID-19 pandemic was based on advice regarding infectious diseases, epidemiology and behaviour/society. In this project, we seek to identify knowledge gaps within these areas. We are working with different scientific experts to simulate several key decision-making moments in the COVID-19 crisis. What knowledge did they have at that time? How was this knowledge taken into account in decision-making? The outcome is an interdisciplinary research agenda (in Dutch) describing the knowledge needed to improve advice in the future.

Resilient healthcare systems

Tjebbe Hagenaars, Head of Emergency Department and Trauma Surgeon at Erasmus MC: ‘Healthcare should never be allowed to reach a crisis situation and should continue functioning effectively under all circumstances. For healthcare, that’s the overriding objective.’

Institutional healthcare systems are organized so that they only effectively function under normal circumstances. At times of crisis, this can prevent an adequate response. With this project, the PDPC aims to identify the questions we need to answer to improve the resilience of the healthcare sector, enabling it to continue to operate effectively even during a pandemic or a flood. The early detection of – and response to – risks plays a central role in this process. This project is led by Roland Bal, Professor of Policy and Governance of Healthcare at Erasmus University Rotterdam (EUR).

Measures and passenger behaviour during Omicron flights

How we travel played an essential role in the spread of the virus during the COVID-19 pandemic. We want to understand the impact of passenger behaviour on the spread of epidemics and to explore whether the measures taken had the desired effect.

In collaboration with Schiphol and the GGD Kennemerland, the PDPC will study the proportionality of measures relating to the so-called Omicron flights at the end of 2021.

Long-term COVID-19 strategy

Doctor of Social Medicine and Health Anja Schreijer from the PDPC: ‘Structural changes with more trust and responsibility for citizens are needed to make our society more robust.’

If we want to avoid far-reaching measures in the battle against COVID-19, a long-term strategy is required. In January 2022, the PDPC facilitated a meeting with experts from (bio)medical and social sciences and social partners to draw up this strategy.

After outlining four scenarios (from cold virus to worst-case), a paper (in Dutch) was drafted, exploring how to gain wide societal support and improve society’s resilience.

Get in touch!

If you have any questions regarding the Pandemic and Disaster Preparedness Center, please contact us.

Eline Boezelman

Program secretary