Introduction

The management of health crisis is an integral part of the basic remit of the Federal Public Service for Health, Safety of the Food Chain and the Environment (FPS-HSFCE). The FPS HSFCE is responsible for coordinating and implementing the integrated policy and management of health crises in cooperation with the various partners.

What does this mean in the context of the COVID-19 crisis?

  • The FPS HSFCE is closely monitoring the development of the pandemic, in order to propose the most appropriate measures to support political decisions to protect the population as a whole and stop or at least limit the spread of the virus;
  • It is responsible for the organisation and planning of care, which includes psychosocial care as well as emergency assistance;
  • The FPS HSFCE is responsible for the health inspection of ships and certain airplanes coming from risk areas;
  • The FPS HSFCE is responsible for the logistical and medical aspects of looking after Belgian nationals returning from abroad;
  • It is tasked with informing healthcare professionals about the risks of the virus and the measures to be taken if in doubt about infection;
  • As a public service, the FPS HSFCE has the duty to inform the public as effectively as possible.

All these actions were implemented in cooperation with the partner organisations involved. In the current report, we opted to focus on actions in which the Directorate-General for Health Care of the FPS HSFCE was actively involved. The publication is divided into 4 chapters in which we elaborate on some of the above-mentioned tasks. In the chapter ‘Organisation’, an overview is given of the various consultation bodies and crisis units that were set up in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic. In addition, we describe some of the centres that were set up to deal with the COVID-19 crisis, as well as of some of the systems that were used to inform the public about COVID-19. The chapter ‘Care ­activity’ summarises the actions taken by the Hospital & Transport Surge Capacity (HTSC) Committee. Several observations are presented on the impact of the pandemic on the emergency response. The chapters on ‘Funding’ and ‘Quality’ illustrate some of the initiatives taken during the pandemic in relation to these issues.