While I was sitting at the bus stop after visiting a doctor, I thought about the complaints I’ve heard about the Dutch healthcare system. Many of my international friends say that Dutch doctors are ignorant or careless. I don’t think they are. I believe that Dutch doctors treat international people like regular Dutch people who have sufficient information about their health system. Unfortunately, most international patients are badly informed about it.
International patients are often angry when a doctor tells them to go back home and rest; they always want some kind of medication, like antibiotics. However, Dutch doctors are reluctant to prescribe medication. I always thought the reason for this is that the doctors don’t want patients to consume too many medicines that can make them depend on it. But when I did some research, I found that in the case of antibiotics, there is another reason.
The more antibiotics people use, the more bacteria will become resistant to antibiotics, which means the antibiotics will become ineffective and therefore useless when we really need them to fight off life-threatening bacteria. What is more, in the case of flu, which is a viral disease, antibiotics do not actually help because they only work against bacteria, not viruses.
According to the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), the Netherlands has the lowest rate of prescribing antibiotics. This must help make it one of the most efficient countries in preventing the further rise of antibiotics resistance in bacteria. So I guess Dutch doctors are not careless; we just don’t always understand their motives.
Ibnu Budiman, MSc student of Environmental Sciences, from Indonesia
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NL: Geen pillen
Internationale studenten zijn vaak boos als Nederlandse artsen hen naar huis sturen zonder pillen. Ze voelen zich dan niet serieus genomen, zegt Ibnu Budiman. Hij denkt echter dat de studenten de motieven van de artsen niet goed begrijpen. Zo ontdekte hij dat veelvuldig gebruik van antibiotica leidt tot een toename van het aantal resistente bacteriën. Daardoor worden de antibiotica waardeloos op het moment dat we ze echt nodig hebben. Door minder antibiotica voor te schrijven, proberen Nederlandse artsen dit te voorkomen. ‘Bovendien helpen antibiotica alleen tegen bacterieziekten, niet tegen virusziekten zoals de griep.’