The western european countries are well known for the high quality level of life which includes health system. In the internet world currently, most of the top ten best life quality countries are european. The Netherlands, naturally, also within the prestigious range. In Indonesia, where I come from, it is even become a hot comparison subject between Indonesian and Netherlands medication system.
Short story, in Indonesia, it is common knowledge whenever you go to the doctor, you will go home with a medicine prescription. If not, then either you’re doctor is incapable or there is nothing wrong with you. Well, even if there is nothing wrong, you can ask for prescription, for vitamins. Whereas in The Netherlands, you can go feverish for days end and coughing like trains, and the doctor will only say that there is nothing wrong with you, it is just a viral infection, now go home and get some rest and drink water like a fish. Applies also for little children as little as one year old. The doctor can say that a fever is only considered dangerous if it is above 40 degrees celcius and happened continuously for three days. For a young mother like me, it is practically telling me to let my baby suffer to die. Well, I learned that sometimes the hard way is the only way. Indeed, nothing wrong with me or my baby.
But let me tell you the not so well known truth about the health care. I need to underline that I write this as a sharing method, not to defame or spreading out lies and rumors. Most of the points I heard from others, but some is purely my own experience.
- They are understaffed. I don’t know what is happening to this country healthcare recruitment, but I know that they are understaffed. Even your own family doctor (huisarts) is off in weekends and you need to call huisartsenpost if there is any emergency within the weekend period. And since they are understaff, of course the waiting line is long. Applies also to labour care units. The nurse stand by is fixed amounted. So, if you go and give birth in one of those unfortunate nights where they have full delivery and care rooms, you have to be patient and do as much things as you can by yourself. That includes showering. And be prepared to be asked to leave home as soon as 6 hours after the labour, even it is still practically dawn. Don’t hope for the nurse to come and look after you or your baby. They can’t. They have other patients to attend.
- You are sick until I prove otherwise. Let me share you a story about a boy who came to the country at age 2 and by the time he is 4, he has to go to school (here they start at 4 years old). Since he came from another country with another language, and so are his parents, it is only a matter of communication when the boy seemed not interacting well with his friends. And do not actively involved in class activities. I mean, it is easy to spot the problem here, and all he needs is extra time to socialize. Then the teachers start to freak out, asking the parents to go to child psychologist to have their son checked. Not content with just the parents, they also notified nearby health centres. So, nothing else to do but to bring the boy to therapy. Guess what? The diagnose came out and the psychologist said that it is only a matter of communication and he needs more time. Didn’t I write that in another sentence earlier? I did, didn’t I?
- They are paranoid whom easily provoked. Next story is how a doctor worried about speech development of a one and a half year old baby. If you don’t have babies around you or hate them, probably will not see what is wrong with my previous sentence. One and a half year old vocabulary mainly consists of “Mama” or “Papa” or “Cookie” all simple syllables which can be repeated and easily associated. And they can only speak out a handful lot of words. So, the doctor of this baby said that the baby needs speech therapy. He doesn’t care that there is a family history of speech delay which has nothing to do with intelligence and personal growth. There is yet a development of the story, which I firmly hold my ground that in the end, there is nothing wrong with the baby.
- Cover up your bruises. They are sensitive with bruises especially the noticeable ones and the ones in babies. They can even mistaken a bluish complexion due to melanin, which happens to darker skin toned babies, as a bruise and will ask you so many things until they are certain that you or somebody else caused the bluish or bruise. If they are unsure, then they can call social services to come and visit your house. Same goes with neighbours, they can call child protection services if they see you beat your child. Even if there is nothing wrong, it still an unpleasant experience.
- Google it. It is a common and well known practice in medical field where you will be treated by an intern doctor (I don’t know the correct terms in english, cmiiw) or here they call it “co-as” short for co-assistent. If you happen to be treated or complain about your sickness to one of the co-as, don’t be startled when they got confused, look worried, and start to tap on their iPhone to google the symptoms. And if they found no luck with Google, you must wait along with them until the senior or resident doctor appears.
Well those are just side stories, so far I am content with the way the healthcare system treated me. Although those stories above will make me wince and think that behind all the glory there are small things that will make me see everything the other way around. It is like when you walk bare foot in a lush greens and suddenly you step over a sharp pebble which pierce directly to the palm of your foot. It is painful for a while but then it will not change the way you view the scenery.