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May nature be on your side

May nature be on your side

Photographer:Fotograaf: archive

I have been sick for a few days now and it just reminded me of all the things I simply hate about the Dutch healthcare system. It is expensive, slow, and not helpful, yet surrounded by white coats who will defend it until the last man standing. Actually, I think that doctors here spent the main part of their training learning how to defend their lousy system rather than to help people who are sick.

Individuals defending the Dutch healthcare system will first tell you in a bravo tone that it is one of the cheapest in Europe. These folks are either rich or lying, or probably both, in any case they are not worth of your trust. However, you are legally obliged to have a Dutch healthcare insurance if you want to work here. So you pay for it. True; the fact that everybody is paying for this healthcare disappointment may give you some comfort.

Then the white coats never cease to emphasize that The System is very accessible to everyone. Really? To be admitted to the hospital or to see a doctor other than your GP resembles a practice of approaching Judaism, for example. You ask to be admitted, then they reject you, and tell you to go home. That procedure is repeated at least three times after which you either give up and go home, or get in. However, even if you won the lottery and are allowed to see a doctor, it might very well be the case that the doctor is not going to do a thing. You see, it is fascinating how when it comes to the health, these usually rational and science appreciative people become pure hippies. So, even if you are in pain, apparently you should not get any medication because you first need to let “nature take its own course”. I do not know if nature functions differently here, but, in general, the course of nature is all of us dying. Not getting younger or healthier, unless you are another Benjamin Button. What medicine is supposed to do is to delay the trajectory to dead, which is why drugs were invented in the first place. A final point that Dutch healthcare devotees will tell you is that Dutchies are, allegedly, one of the healthiest people. This is a questionable claim. Who knows how many sick users of Dutch healthcare insurance are now back home waiting for “nature to do its thing”, or just in Belgian hospitals, where insurance costs are half of the full Dutch price?

As for me - thanks to the antibiotics from, of course, my private Eastern European stash - I finally feel better. And for you, hippies, while you gasp in disapproval, be kind to nature, you will for sure need it.

Irena Boskovic, PhD Candidate, FPN, Forensic Psychology Department



2017-05-23: Celine
I am actually quite shocked to be reading this. First off, you pay for healthcare insurance and it is one of the cheapest health insurances in the world. You can see your GP for any kind of small pain or illness you have, without cost. If you fall seriously ill, it is covered. How great is that? Compare that to the US system where people are so much in debt after they got seriously ill, that they will probably never recover financially.

A GP has enough experience to tell whether you should be referred to a specialist or not. If he will not refer you, then it is not necessary. And he is completely right, flu should run its course. Unfortunately that may take a week or more. And another great invention of the Netherlands: Medication sale at the drug store. So you just go there, get your aspirin and go home! (Do I have to tell you it is also very cheap)

And referring to your antibiotics stash: I hope you know that there is very good reason to not prescribe antibiotics every time you feel a bit ill. Here in the Netherlands we do not have a large population that is resistant to any kind of antibiotics. Thank you Netherlands, for a prudent attitude to antibiotics!

I do agree with the attitude to pain medication. There is no reason for anyone to suffer pain, and the attitude in the Netherlands is a bit too extreme. But in general, we are very fortunate with the Dutch healthcare system.
2017-05-23: Rob
Shocked to read this as well. Precisely this way of using antibiotics is what will cause increased mortality in the future. [Http://]
As for the PhD candidate you are, I suppose you could have done some more research as to why antibiotics aren't as easily prescribed in the Netherlands
2017-05-23: Jill
Dear Irena,
Thank you for your opinion, but I'm not impressed and even disappointed by your article. As a PhD candidate you should know how to write an article and to back-up your arguments with factual data, even if it's 'only an opinion'. That's what you should have learned at university and how we at university try to contribute to society.

This article reads like unfounded rant and therefore, I will not go into the content of your article. Please, first do your research and then rewrite your opinion-piece, and then I'm happy to go into discussion with you about the pro's and con's of the Dutch healthcare system.
2017-05-23: Francois
The above demonstrates why organising the health care system should never become subject to democratic processes where people without any expertise at all are allowed to spread their ignorance. The world is already suffering too much from the results of such social experiments.

An expert a day will keep a lot of suffering away!

Suggestion: what is your expertise, perhaps we can learn from you if you would write about that, good idea?


2017-05-23: Aigle
If you are sick with flu antibiotics will not help you. Flu is caused by a virus. Antibiotics kill bacteria. Which is why you won't get any if you go to the doctor here. What you do is that you destroy your own microflora and cause antibacterial resistance; Making yourself more prone to serious illnesses. So yeah. DO let nature run its course. We have a very good and functioning immune system. Sometimes it will require help. But most of the time for most people, it can take care of things just fine. Specially if you are vaccinated. So trust your doctors. And before you say it, no I am NOT Dutch. But I do study biomed.
2017-05-23: Rutger Wind
I sincerely hope the university will give this 'PhD-candidate' an extremely though thesis defense or think twice about granting her a PhD title. If this display of total ignorance and lack of proper research is any indication of her own studies, it will be a crying shame for science.
Irena, if you have no knowledge about a topic, please don't share your shortsighted opinion about it. Your kind of actions are the cause of resistance to antibiotics, which is a serious worldwide problem. Thinking that taking an antibiotic will miraculously cure common illnesses, which are mostly caused by virusses, seems more 'hippy' to me than having a thorough knowledge of the human immune response and acting accordingly.
The Netherlands has one of the lowest rates of resistance to antibiotics on the planet, thanks to our strict regime. Not giving whining patients like you antibiotics for things that resolve in a week anyway, is a strategy that should be adopted in Eastern Europe, instead of giving you a private stash. Yes, I'm one of those white coats. And yes, I do know what I'm talking about. I've seen children in Indonesia die of silly bacterial infections that are treatable in The Netherlands with simple penicillin, whereas Indonesia doesn't even have 'last resort antibiotics' for the same bacteria due to resistance.
About the expensiveness of our healthcare system: I would suggest you do a bit of research on this yourself, it seems you could do with some practice in the art of scientific appraisal of a topic.
By the way: your GP ís a doctor, don't act as if you are only taken seriously if you can consult a specialist. It doesn't suit an academic. You should know better.

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