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    Belgian health care in Europe’s top 5

    According to a report by Health Consumer Powerhouse, a think tank that has been comparing all European healthcare systems since 2005, Belgium’s health care is the fifth best in Europe. The latest report showed improvement in the Belgian healthcare system, as the country rose in rank from 8th to 5th place this year.  Switzerland, which came in first, followed by the Netherlands, Norway and Denmark preceded Belgium.

    According to the report Belgium scores very well in terms of accessibility: in that area of care Belgium ranks second. In other words, patients are readily helped here. However, in terms of the use of pharmaceuticals, our country is doing less well: Belgians swallow too many pills, the report concludes.

    Belgium also scores well thanks to its high vaccination rate, high survival rates for cancer and rapid treatment of patients. Only in Switzerland are patients treated faster.

    Minister Maggie De Block (Open VLD) reacted positively to the report’s findings. She said: “This is good news for all Belgians. We clearly enjoy very qualitative and generous health care.”

    “For me, it is also a confirmation that we have made the right choices in recent years. On the other hand, I am not blind to the areas for improvement, because they are there, and we will take them to heart. We can and must do even better,” De Block adds.

    Another negative aspect in Belgian’s healthcare is the long wait for mental health care. “We have very specialised mental care,” De Block says. “But that care is not always quickly available. Moreover, until recently there was no reimbursement for mental care. We have changed that. Although it turns out that only a minority of psychologists are in the system of reimbursement.”

    Belgium also gets unfavourable points for its citizen’s alcohol and tobacco consumption. Belgians still drink and smoke too much. Regarding antibiotics. De Block says, “Almost 9 out of 10 Belgians know that antibiotics don’t work for the flu, for example. Yet, despite the decline in recent years, our consumption is still too high,” she concludes.

    Belgium physicians also needs to inform patients better. Every hospital now has its own mediation service, but there is no central platform. And that has to be improved. But we are also working on this. By 2020 there will be a central contact point with all the information about patients’ rights,” says De Block.

    Arthur Rubinstein
    The Brussels Times