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Preventative Healthcare -
The Consultatiebureau (Clinic), 0-4

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As soon as you have registered your baby at the town hall, the Dutch preventative healthcare system - powered by the GGD - creaks into action. Your first encounter will probably be when someone rings you to make an appointment for the hielprik , the heel prick, within a very few days of the birth. This is a routine test for some rare hereditary disorders run by the RIVD, the government body for vaccinations, screening and epidemiology. Read more (in English) at . Newborns are also tested for hearing; read more on the hearing and sight page.

The next brush with the GGD comes when the verpleegkundige jeugdgezondheidzorg visits you at home very shortly after the birth, often while your kraamverzorgster (maternity nurse) is still there and definitely within a fortnight of the birth. That mouthful of a title means Youth Healthcare Nurse, henceforth referred to as 'nurse' (also referred to as wijkverpleegkundige in Dutch, 'local nurse'), and she (it's almost invariably a she, or a pair sharing the work) will be your main point of contact. During this first visit she will do very little other than introduce herself and take basic note of you and your child: its existence, gender, name and DOB, and that's about it. All admin is done by the GGD, whose website is . It has a great deal of information (in Dutch) about the system, and their phone number is 071-5161318.

The nurse will make your first appointment at the Consultatiebureau (clinic), for when the infant is around a month old and you are assumed to be in a fit state to walk / cycle / drive your child to the surgery. If you don't feel this will be the case, for whatever reason, you should say so! She will also present you with its Groeiboek (Growbook), a small paperback with lots of useful information in it about developmental stages etc., and space for you to tuck in the vaccination cards (which you should be sent at home within eight weeks of your child's birth; tell your nurse if this has not happened), note down all your appointments, the child's weight and length and that kind of thing. The Groeiboek in English is no longer directly available from the nurse; it is apparently available via the website , but I can't see how. If you know, please tell me.

For people who are not English native speakers, it is really helpful to go for the Dutch Groeiboek , as it helps you learn all the relevant vocabulary in Dutch. If you know the words, you can carry out the conversations at the consultatiebureau in Dutch, and you will see that you get much more explanation, just because the nurses/doctors are using their native language.

The clinic will be your focal point for preventative healthcare (including vaccination) until your child turns four, when she will come under the care of the school doctor (schoolarts ), of which more later. Even if your child goes to (non-Dutch) school earlier than four, the system still applies and the appointments will come at the same points as his Dutch contemporaries. Read more about the clinic here.

Do I have to go to the clinic, or indeed take part in any of this?

The healthcare professionals would like you to visit the clinic and it is generally speaking in the best interests of you and your child, but it is not mandatory. Likewise, the heel prick test and the state schedule of vaccinations are voluntary. Read more here about opting out in general. Furthermore, alternatives exist to the standard clinic; click here for more information.

  Preventative side



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