Today symposium Closing the Gap, on health care for internationals

Today the Symposium ‘Closing the Gap’, on health care for internationals is taking place in Eindhoven.

The symposium focussed on health care for internationals with the theme ‘Closing the Gap’ is taking place today, June 2nd from 12:00 to19:00 at Seats2Meet, Strijp S, Eindhoven.

An estimated 400,000 people with an international background reside in the Netherlands, of this number, an estimated 30,000 live in the Eindhoven region. A large part of these internationals do not feel at home when it comes to the Dutch health care system. Confidence in doctors, especially the General Practitioner is very low. Surveys have indicated that only 32 percent of Internationals trust their general practitioner, which is extremely low compared with the 85 percent amongst Dutch nationals.

The symposium has been organized to create greater awareness of this health care gap amongst stakeholders, employers, administrators and health care providers. Internationals are used to health care systems where direct access to medical specialists is common. In addition they are more used to their doctors being more proactive through preventive diagnosis as well as more likely to provide medication and antibiotics than Dutch doctors. Even more important there are often cultural differences and there is almost always a language barrier.

The following statements are illustrative, based on surveys undertaken on the topic:
"My doctor told me to go home to drink plenty of water, meditate and take paracetamol if necessary."
"It’s a question of money: the doctors are instructed to keep you away from specialist care."

The lack of trust in their GP has a negative impact on the treatment relationship and hence the outcomes of their care. For the patient it leads to a sense of insecurity and sometimes stress. For many this means that they do not feel at home in the Netherlands and this hampers their social and economic integration. Because of their lack of trust in the Dutch health care system, internationals also look for help and medication outside the regular channels and outside guidelines. Self-diagnosis with treatment by medication sent from ‘home’ is a result from this lack of trust which poses a considerable health risk.

The intended audience for the symposium, which is organized in collaboration with the entire network of stakeholders – is not only the target group itself, but also the city of Eindhoven, health insurers, employers and other healthcare providers – and is organized with a vision to maximise the exchange of knowledge on the needs of the target group and to provide possible solutions. How can people with an international background feel at home in the Netherlands? How can this gap be closed between expectations and what is currently offered in terms of health care?

The symposium will also highlight the efforts of SGE International in bridging this gap which is celebrating the opening of the health care centre for internationals, SGE Internationalat Strijp-S in Eindhoven.

Workshops with themes like ‘Interface Care and Culture’ and ‘How and Why was SGE International established’ are parts of the extensive program. Also panel discussions with internationals and talks by prominent members in this field are taking place.

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