Belgian Minister of Health, Maggie De Block, and her Luxembourg counterpart, Lydia Mutsch, signed an agreement in Brussels this Tuesday which enables Luxembourg citizens to use the Belgian Poison Control Centre. The 5-year agreement, renewable after evaluation, authorises access to, among others, telephone contact about poisonings for Luxembourg health professionals and citizens as well as the updating of data related to drugs, plant protection products and biocides on sale in the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg. The Belgian Poison Control Centre – which European law also designates as the body responsible for managing information about how to respond to health emergencies in the Grand Duchy – will also keep a list of antidotes available in Luxembourg hospitals.
The Grand Duchy, which does not have its own poison control centre and whose doctors already use the Belgian centre, will pay 198,000 euros per year to Belgium in exchange for this service. “The most important aspect of this agreement is that the population will get better service. However, as a public authority, we also have to manage our health care in a practical and effective manner. As such, collaborating with the Grand Duchy in this way will enable us to share, and therefore reduce, costs,” said Maggie De Block.
Last year, the Belgian Poison Control Centre received some 54,200 calls, an average of 149 calls a day (+1.15% compared to 2013). The collaboration with Luxembourg is expected to add a further 2,500 calls over the year. Nearly 50% of these calls involve children, with the under-4s being the main risk group. The actual breakdown of calls was as follows: children: 46%, adults: 47%, animals: 7%). The Belgian Poison Control Centre (freephone 070/245 245) is part of the Ministry of Public Health and was created in 1963. Of the 3à people it currently employs, 13 are doctors.