Doctors and patients are calling for a national action plan to improve what they consider the failing treatment of Long Covid patients in the Netherlands, the AD reports.
Research into Long Covid is fractured and underfunded, and treatment is dependent on the individual efforts of doctors or hospitals, doctors and patient organisations told the paper.
Jan Kluytmans, a professor of microbiology and member of the government’s Outbreak Management Team said Long Covid patients are not getting the medical answers they are after and are being ‘left to their own devices’, often seeking unproven alternative help.
‘If you have cancer, every door opens. Treatment is costly but that is no impediment, and that is how it should be. But with Long Covid the doors remain closed,’ Kluytmans said.
Long Covid, he said, would become a ‘very important disease if some wonder drug became available’, but that as long as there is no proven treatment, health insurers are not paying.
Experts are also calling investment into the disease – currently just over €10 million – ‘laughable compared to the size of the problem.’
Researchers have estimated that one in eight people who caught coronavirus have longer term problems but how many people are permanently disabled by the disease is not known.
Health minister Ernst Kuipers said in a reaction that more research into Long Covid cures and diagnosis is needed and that the health ministry is supporting European-wide research.
Kuipers said he will shortly discuss plans for an expertise centre aimed at longer term national research. ‘We are making progress but for those directly involved it is a slow process, we are aware of that,’ the minister said.
The Volkskrant reported last month that two large clinics set up to help people with Long Covid in Amsterdam and Rotterdam are being forced to close their doors to new patients because of money concerns.
The clinics, which help people with long-lasting, serious complaints, say the payment they are given by health insurers, based on a 10-minute consultation, is not enough to cover the cost.
At the same time, more than half of people suffering from the long-term effects of coronavirus are expected to be unable to go back to work after two years, state-run job centre UWV has said.
The UWV said in March around 17,000 people are on the waiting list to be assessed for Long Covid and expects the number to grow this year. So far around 60% have been declared unfit for work.
One-third of applications are from workers in the healthcare sector, who accounted for a high proportion of infections in the first wave of coronavirus in the spring of 2020, when they were exempted from many of the quarantine restrictions so they could keep working on infected wards.
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