Generally the advantages and disadvantages of screening also apply to population screenings.
In screening, all participants are exposed to the disadvantages of the screening, while the advantages only apply for those participants where the risk factor or disease is determined correctly. This is even more true for population screenings as the screening is offered systematically to the whole proposed target group.
So when organising a population screening it is extremely important that the advantages of the screening are weighed properly against the disadvantages and that the quality control of the screening is guaranteed.
To guarantee this, criteria have been included in Flemish legislation which a screening within a population screening must fulfil. These criteria are largely based on the criteria approved by the World Health Organisation in 1968 and subsequently refined further.
All population screenings organised by the Flemish government since 2008 are tested against the criteria laid down in the Flemish legislation.
Population screenings by other initiative takers, such as care providers or companies, are only permitted in Flanders after approval by the competent minister. The Population Screening work group advises the minister on these population screenings and bases its advice on the same criteria.
It is forbidden to organise a population screening without the permission of the competent minister.
A good-quality, responsible population screening fulfils the set criteria. But whether it is appropriate for you to take part depends also on individual factors. Perhaps a screening doesn’t make sense in your case or the advantages are outweighed by the disadvantages. So make sure you are well informed in advance and don’t hesitate to contact your doctor if you have any questions or doubts.