Is the Popularity of Paracetamol in the Netherlands a Myth?

Earlier this month, figures from the European Union showed that what many Americans in the Netherlands think about Dutch doctors is true – they do prescribe fewer antibiotics than in any other OECD member country.

The report, entitled Health at a Glance, shows that just 10.7 people in 1,000 are prescribed antibiotics in the Netherlands at any one time. This is around half the OECD rate of 20.6 and well below league leader Greece, on 36.

The report also shows Netherlands has spent less on medicines in the last few years than many other countries, with spending down by almost 3% between 2009 and 2015.

At the same time, the Dutch health system is highly regarded in international circles. In May, the Netherlands came in ninth place in a ranking of almost 200 countries by The Lancet magazine. The ranking was compiled by looking at how likely you are to survive various diseases, including tuberculosis, whooping cough and measles. And, a year ago, research by the Commonwealth Fund think-tank in America, put the Netherlands at the top of a list of 11 western countries in terms of its healthcare system.

Insight

The International Community Advisory Panel is trying to get greater insight into attitudes to the Dutch healthcare system among the international community and has launched a new survey to find out more.

ICAP, an independent foundation set up in 2016, has already carried out two surveys, one focusing on the international community and housing and the other on education. The findings are being used by Amsterdam city council in its efforts to make the city a more attractive place to live and do business.

The research showed that 63% of people considered to be expats in the Netherlands get no financial help from their employer in paying school fees and 77% of new arrivals get no help with paying for housing.

In addition, over half of the 700 people who took part in the surveys have no plans to leave the Netherlands within the next five years at least.

Expat

‘We need to redefine what we mean by “expat” because most international workers these days do not get generous housing and school deal packages from their employers,’ said ICAP chairwoman Robin Pascoe.

‘In addition, most internationals in the Netherlands to work came here by choice and live here for much longer than a couple of years. Not only can they not afford the fees for international schools and expensive ‘expat’ housing, but they want their children to integrate into the Dutch community.’

Dutch government policy currently focuses on investing on creating additional international school places in Amsterdam and The Hague but moves are also being made to make Dutch schools more ‘international’ as well.

‘While the decision-makers at multinationals will benefit from spending on international schools, we also believe there are enormous gains to be made if the government invested properly in helping the children of new arrivals integrate into the Dutch school system,’ said Deborah Valentine, director of voluntary organisation ACCESS and a member of the ICAP board.

Do you have doubts about doctors or issues about health insurance? Is the popularity of paracetamol a myth? Have your say in the ICAP survey about the Dutch healthcare system as seen through the eyes of internationals. We much appreciate your help.

You can find ICAP’s survey here.

Photo credit: Michelle Tribe via Wikimedia Commons.

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