Belgium had over 400,000 people with long-term illnesses at the end of 2017, according to data from the National Health Insurance-Disability Institute, quoted by De Tijd on Tuesday. In December last there were 405,000 people on sick leave for over a year, a 3.7% increase (+13,700) compared to the end of 2016. Since the start of the millennium, the number of people with long-term illnesses has doubled.
Nevertheless, the numbers have been increasing more slowly. The 3.7% hike was the lowest in 10 years. “The upward trend in the number of long-term patients is being reversed,” Public Health Minister Maggie De Block said.
Minister De Block stressed the importance of a project to reintegrate people with long-term illnesses into the job market that she worked out with Labour Minister Kris Peeters to reduce the number of workers on sick leave.