Belgium Country Drug Report 2019

Quality assurance

In Belgium, efforts have been made to develop an integrated, balanced and evidence-based drug policy. In the Flemish Community, the Flemish Centre of Expertise for Alcohol and Other Drugs (VAD) promotes evidence-based practice in alcohol and drug prevention and treatment.

In 2014-15, the Belgian Federal Science Policy Office (BELSPO) funded a study on consensus building vis-à-vis minimum quality standards for drug demand reduction in Belgium. The aims of the study were (i) to document the critical ingredients and prerequisites for the successful implementation of these standards, based on selected good practices; (ii) to assess the acceptability and actual implementation of the minimum standards for drug treatment, prevention and harm reduction; and (iii) to specify and put into operation the consensus minimum standards and develop standards of excellence that can be used as measures and benchmarks for monitoring and evaluating prevention, treatment and harm reduction interventions. As a result, 32 prevention, 24 treatment and 20 harm reduction quality standards were identified. As a next step, these will be translated into measurable indicators, among other things, through the VIP²-project (Flemish Indicator Project for Patients and Professionals), which is currently developing generic quality indicators for mental health care in Belgium.

EBMPracticeNet consists of Belgian organisations active in evidence-based medicine (EBM) and is currently focused on offering evidence-based information to general practitioners and other first-line caregivers. The Belgian Centre for Evidence-Based Medicine (CEBAM) — Cochrane Belgium — is the institution recognised by the federal government for the promotion of evidence-based medicine for care providers in Belgium.

Several organisations — some of which are active at the regional level to support professionals belonging to different linguistic communities — provide specific continuing education and specialisation courses in the field of drugs and related subjects. To date, there is no specific accreditation system for intervention providers, and nor is there an academic curriculum for professionals working in the field of demand reduction.

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Methodological note: Analysis of trends is based only on those countries providing sufficient data to describe changes over the period specified. The reader should also be aware that monitoring patterns and trends in a hidden and stigmatised behaviour like drug use is both practically and methodologically challenging. For this reason, multiple sources of data are used for the purposes of analysis in this report. Caution is therefore required in interpretation, in particular when countries are compared on any single measure. Detailed information on methodology and caveats and comments on the limitations in the information set available can be found in the EMCDDA Statistical Bulletin.