Dutch town considers giving birthday ear plugs to all 16-year-olds

Dutch town considers giving birthday ear plugs to all 16-year-olds

Local officials in the Arnhem commuter town of Westervoort will today vote on whether or not to present all 16-year-olds with a set of earplugs to protect their hearing. The gift will cost the council around €1,500 a year, according to alderman Arthur Boone, who is in charge of health. Some 175 youngsters turn 16 every year in Westervoort, which has a population of some 15,000. ‘€1,500 is a lot cheaper than the potential consequences of damage to hearing,’ Boone, who himself has hearing loss in one ear, said. The council is also considering handing out ear plugs at concerts and festivals. According to research by hearing charity Hoorstichting, one in five youngsters suffers from some form of hearing damage due to loud music.   More >

Most health insurance policies have limits

Dutch town considers giving birthday ear plugs to all 16-year-olds Three quarters of health insurance polices taken out by the Dutch only cover patients completely if they visit a healthcare practitioner who has a contract with the insurer, new figures out on Wednesday show. Just under 20% have opted to have complete freedom to decide where to get treatment and the rest have opted for a combination policy, according to research by care information platform Vektis. This year, insurance companies had 58 different policies on offer and 67% of people were covered by a collective policy, often via their jobs, Vektis said. In addition, 84% of people have taken out top up policies to cover services not covered in the basic state-determined policy. These include items such as extra physiotherapy, homeopathy and dental treatment. Just over half of patients spend less than the €385 compulsory excess on their health bills last year. Of those who opted to increase the excess charge by €500 – which results in lower monthly premiums – just 8% ended up having to pay the first €885 of their medical bills themselves. Vektis over one million people changed insurance company during last year’s window.  More >

Patient groups challenge cancer charity

Dutch town considers giving birthday ear plugs to all 16-year-olds Dutch cancer patients are taking the massive anti-cancer charity KWF Kankerbestrijding to court in a dispute over a website providing information about the disease. The 19 patients organisations say going to court is the only option now that the charity wants to seize ownership of the website. The website - kanker.nl - was set up in 2014 by the KWF, the patients' federation and the Dutch cancer centre IKNL. In the agreement, the KWF is responsible for building and maintaining the website, the patients' groups would provide information for patients and the IKNL would contribute more scientific information. However, last month the KWF announced it wanted to run the website alone, cutting out the other two groups. Patients' organisations are furious at the decision and say taking the issue to court is their only option. 'There is no other way to get back control of our property,' federation director Arja Broenland told the Volkskrant on Wednesday. Peter Huijgens, who chairs the IKNL said the cancer charity is trying to dictate policy to patients groups and take over their role. 'The KWF collects money and distributes it to cancer research experts,' he said. 'Now they seem to want to represent patients interests as well, even though they don't have the expertise.' The KWF told the Volkskrant in a reaction that it wants to research how to be best serve the growing number of cancer patients in the Netherlands. The KWF is the most successful Dutch charity, raising €117m in 2015.  More >

Chemical plant under fire over river

Dutch town considers giving birthday ear plugs to all 16-year-olds Infrastructure ministry and water board officials say a Dordrecht chemical plant should stop pumping a potentially carcinogenic chemical into the river Merwede because of the risk to drinking water, the AD said on Friday. Local water board Oasen, which supplies drinking water to 750,000 people, says the pollution poses a 'significant' risk, the paper said. It bases its claims on confidential letters between officials and the factory. The Chemours plant permit is currently being amended to stop it pumping 6,400 kilos of waste water containing GenX into the river. Officials want an initial reduction to 2,000 kilos and then a stop altogether, the paper said. The company, which used to be part of the Dupont chemicals group, is prepared to half the volume but says the province does not have the right to make further demands. The public health institute RIVM is currently carrying out research into the impact of GenX which some toxicologists say is a danger to health. The chemical has been located in drinking water in various parts of Zuid-Holland, the paper said. The public prosecution department is carrying out a parallel investigation. GenX is used in the production of teflon, and replaces another chemical, known as C8, which is a carcinogen.  More >

Fewer teens in hospital due to alcohol

Dutch town considers giving birthday ear plugs to all 16-year-olds Fewer teenagers were taken to hospital last year after drinking too much alcohol, according to new figures out on Thursday. In 2016, 791 teenagers were hospitalised with alcohol poisoning, a drop of 15% on 2015. The figures come from a special centre set up to combat teenage drinking. However, not all hospitals have participated in the research this year, which could mean the figures are inaccurate, broadcaster RTL said. Nevertheless, doctor Nico van der Lely, who started the campaign against teen drunks, says the figures do show that the rising trend may now have been halted. The youngest person take to hospital after drinking to excess was just nine years old, but the average age was 15.5. Nearly half had been drinking at a friend's house and one in four got drunk in the street. Unconscious Slightly more boys than girls were taken to hospital and on average they remained unconscious for three hours, RTL said. Spirits were to blame for 60% of alcohol overdoses. The figures also show that parents are getting tougher about teenage drinking. Of the 791 children taken to hospital, 56% said their parents did not allow them to drink at all. 'This is a trend that began in 2012,' Van der Lely said. 'Parents are increasingly aware of the risks of using alcohol, such as the impact on brain development.'  More >