Site Visits

Welcome to the city of Ghent! For decades and even centuries, Ghent has been a city with a strong commitment to its communities, prioritizing their health and well-being. Our city upholds these core principles of Quality: equity, diversity, and inclusivity. We are enthusiastic about showing you some high quality GP practices and guiding you through their inspiring neighborhoods where innovative projects and exciting initiatives are developed for and with citizens to promote health for all.

Site Visit A:  “Discovering Watersportbaan: the local Community Health Center as a Driver for Community Health Initiatives and Neighborhood Leadership”

Once part of Ghent's countryside, the region Watersportbaan is distinguished by a vast green space (Ghent's green lung) and numerous waterways. This neighbourhood knew an important development in the early 20th century when urbanisation and industrialisation were transforming Ghent. Industrial workers and their families were drawn to the area for its affordable social housing and proximity to employment opportunities. The creation of the Watersportbaan lake in the 1950s catalysed the area's recreational significance. The availability of water sports facilities such as rowing, sailing, and kayaking attracted enthusiasts and spectators alike, fostering a vibrant social scene around the lake. Over the following decades, the neighbourhood also witnessed demographic shifts and socio-economic changes. The original population of industrial workers and their families now form a large population of care-dependent elderly. When they move to an elderly home, their worn-out social housing apartments often become the home of impoverished young families and vulnerable people discharged from the local psychiatric hospital. This mix of population groups is a challenge for the neighbourhood. 

This site visit focuses on what it takes for primary care facilities to care for communities over solely for individual patients. During the tour, you'll first explore the local Community Health Centre. Not only providing primary care for over 4,000 registered patients, but this health care centre also addresses the broader needs of the community. You'll gain insight into the prerequisites and challenges of this community-oriented approach through various projects undertaken by the Community Health Centre. 

Next, you'll learn about the vital work of "neighbourhood directors" employed by the city of Ghent. These professionals act as intermediaries between residents, local professionals, and city officials in specific neighbourhoods. Accompanied by Evelyne, the neighborhood director of Watersportbaan, you'll stroll through the area, discovering how she translates the city's social and health policies into actionable initiatives at the local level. Evelyne's firsthand experiences and observations contribute to shaping comprehensive city-wide policies on health and healthcare, ensuring that the needs and perspectives of her community are heard and addressed.

Site Visit C: Putting theory into action: Leading towards Population Health in Ghent

During this site visit, we guide you through the historic harbour district of Ghent, a densely populated neighbourhood that houses a diverse migrant population. Accompanied by various policymakers, healthcare providers, and citizen leaders from Ghent during the walk, you will hear informal testimonies on how they actively take leadership in realising the goal of Health for All. Among these testimonials, you'll have the opportunity to learn from members of the City of Ghent community health workers project. This initiative involves training citizens to serve as bridges to healthcare for their fellow residents in the neighbourhood. Notably, this award-winning project became a model adopted by several cities in Belgium during the COVID-19 pandemic. Additionally, you will gain insights into the health and welfare policy model in Ghent. This model involves the collaborative development of the city's yearly policy plan with fieldworkers from all areas of health and welfare, providing a comprehensive and community-driven approach.


Program site visits

11.00 Registration for the site visits and the conference
Noon Light lunch (sandwiches – soup – fruit - hot and cold beverages)
12.30 Welcome and introduction to the site visits
“Action Speaks Louder: Prioritizing Health in the City of Ghent”
(Ms. Leen Van Zele - Coordinator local health policy at Stad Gent)

Practical arrangements

13:30 Transport to the site visits by tram/bus/foot
16:00 Transport from the site visits to the city hall by tram/bus/foot
16.30 Official opening and drinks in the old city hall (free but mandatory registration)
18:00 Choice between a chocolate tasting, or a guided boat trip on the canals   through the medieval city centre (both free but mandatory registration)
19:30 End of the program


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