In 2011, we were still wondering whether the Dutch population was happy or not. On the list of world’s happiest countries in 2012 and 2013 (PDF) the Netherlands was fourth. However, researchers at University of Queensland in Australia have recently mapped the rates of depression around the world, and some results are surprising:
“The burden is highest in Afghanistan and in Middle Eastern and North African countries, as well as in Eritrea, Rwanda, Botswana, Gabon, Croatia, the Netherlands (!) and Honduras.”
I didn’t add the exclamation mark. Apparently, there are no obvious reasons why the Dutch population is depressed, only guesses: the weather (what about Belgium, the UK, etc.), going through a crisis (stress), not admitting you’re actually depressed (shame) and my personal favourite, readily available antidepressants to anybody feeling a bit blue. If 16% of the Dutch population is depressed and possibly on drugs to ‘feel’ happy, then yes, that’s depression, not happiness.
And actually since all of this is opinion and the research was not a survey of how people feel, the exclamation mark seems warranted.
(Photo of wilted tulip by Graham Keen, some rights reserved)
Tags: Australia, depression, happiness
Dr. Corrie is a fictional character who talks on public TV to 10- and 11-year-olds about topics such as how to French kiss, what it’s like to be in love, what to do when you’ve got an unwanted erection, and so on.
She uses a lot of humour and I think this is why a group of ‘concerned parents’ has started a website called Stop Dokter Corrie!—the show normalizes sexuality and there are people who don’t want that. The action committee believes it’s not the government’s task to raise children. The group claims it is not tied to any religion, so it must be especially painful for them that only Christian media seem to be spreading their message.
All episodes have a famous Dutch person talking about some early experience with love or sex. Dokter Corrie is played by comedian Martine Sandifort.
An example of an episode that the group objects to is the one about kissing. The broadcaster’s description says “it is important that you only start with kissing when you are ready. Don’t do it just because somebody else wants you to.” Children seem to like the show.
(Photo: screenshot of the show from YouTube)
Tags: elementary, sex education, sexuality
Two years ago the Dutch ALS Foundation (ALS is also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease in North America) started a bold advertising campaign to call attention to the disease.
The campaign consists of portraits of ALS sufferers on posters and in videos. New ads are released only after the model has died. The caption printed on the posters, “ik ben inmiddels overleden”, means “by now I have died”.
In 2010 the foundation made portraits of 9 patients which it expects to distribute in the next few years. It generally takes 3 to 5 years from the onset of the first ALS symptoms to the death of a patient. In 2011 the campaign kicked off after two patients had died, a woman called Conny Deenik and former hockey player and Olympian Theodoor Doyer (photo).
There is no cure for ALS. The disease causes nerves to die, after which the respiratory system breaks down.
(Photo and story: Adformatie / Stichting ALS Nederland)
Tags: advertisements, advertising, advertizing, ALS, hockey, posters, Theodoor Doyer
People posing as doctors and people who have set up fictitious health care institutions have been defrauding Dutch health care insurers out of millions of euros by submitting false invoices for services never rendered.
The fraud is apparently childishly easy to commit using the personal codes of practicing physicians that have been ‘lending out’ the right to use their code to crooks for a piece of the action. However, the whole practice was uncovered when a woman in Rotterdam defrauding the system got caught using the code of a doctor who just happened to be in jail at the time. Some crooks have gone so far as to use the codes of doctors who are retired and even deceased.
According to just one health insurer who claims to have hundreds of these cases, this could be the biggest form of fraud in the entire country. The company responsible for handing out the codes does not do any checking after it a code has been given, making it easy to defraud health care institutions who are in fact responsible for reporting any fraudulent use of the codes.
It’s one thing for crooks to piggyback on the personal codes of doctors, which makes us point fingers at the total lack of security related to these codes, but it makes me really uncomfortable to know that doctors are actually joining in to this fraud to make some quick cash.
Tags: doctors, fraud, physicians
City governments are pressuring single mothers to reveal the name of the fathers of their children, so that they can then force said fathers into paying some sort of alimony, Dutchnews reported last Friday.
Apparently a man from Rotterdam, Eric van Deurzen, was ordered by a court to pay either the city or the mother 486 euro a month. (If I am being vague it’s because my sources are.) Volkskrant quotes two law professors, Paul Vlaardingerbroek and André Nuytinck, as saying that only the mother can bring suit.
Professor Nuytinck told Gelderlander that this also puts certain kinds of sperm donors in a tough situation: “Sperm donors who haven’t gone through a sperm bank may have difficulty proving that they did not conceive the child. For conception [as a legal term--Branko] there needs to have been intercourse.”
Since everybody is being so incredibly vague I had to do my own homework here.
Title 17 of Book 1 of the Dutch Civil Code (Burgerlijk Wetboek) states that “he who conceives a child that only has a mother [...] is obliged to contribute to the cost of rearing and caring for the child until it reaches the age of majority [...].” Although the law does differentiate between a father, a conceiver (verwekker) and a donor, it does not state that there is a difference between a donor and a conceiver when it comes to financial responsibility for raising a child.
Several websites and professor Nuytinck do make that distinction though, which leads me to believe that there must be a separate, more specific law detailing the rights and responsibilities of sperm donors somewhere. Not all the cost of artificial insemination are covered by basic health insurance and in 2010, a lesbian couple was refused treatment by a hospital in Leiden.
The law I quoted above seems to have especially dire consequences for gay couples. The partner who is not the parent only has rights if they’ve gone through official, sometimes homophobic channels and the donor has expressed the wish to remain pseudo-anonymous (in the Netherlands a child always has the right to know its father once it turns 16).
It is still not clear to me why a municipal government would have standing in a case where they ask for the determination of fatherhood.
(Photo by Gniliep, some rights reserved)
Tags: children, conception, fathers, gay parents, gay rights, human rights, IVF, legal standing, mothers, parenthood, parenting, single mothers, sperm, sperm donors
A study commissioned by the Ministry of Infrastructure and the Environment revealed that accidents with mobility scooters involve tipping in 70% of cases.
Plus Online wrote yesterday that 20% of these falls was due to inclines, bumps in the road and the likes, while 14% was due to driver error and 7% because the driver took a turn.
The cause of accidents with mobility scooters has become more relevant as the use of mobility scooters in the Netherlands has increased from 150,000 in 2006 to 250,000 in 2012.
The union for the elderly, ANBO, told Telegraaf yesterday that municipalities should provide training to new users of mobility scooters. Project leader Liesbeth Boerwinkel told the paper that matters such as braking and accelerating are confusing: “You need to squeeze the handle to accelerate, but people are used to bicycles with hand brakes. That is one source of problems.”
Both ANBO and traffic safety organisation Veilig Verkeer Nederland have their doubts about making training mandatory. A spokesperson for VVN points out that enforcing training “would be a reason for many people to not to use a mobility scooter in the first place. That would limit their freedom whereas we want to keep people mobile for as long as possible.”
The city of Purmerend recently offered a mobility scooter course to 450 people, Dichtbij writes. One third of them took the city up on its offer. During a two-hour workshop participants had to drive over an obstacle course that contained bumpy surfaces and sharp turns and where they had to practice stopping on an incline and parking.
The workshop was provided by scooter seller Harting-Bank who are in favour of making training mandatory—surprise, surprise!
(Photo by Facemepls, some rights reserved)
Tags: accidents, elderly, mobility scooters, safety
In the past weeks 230 people in the Netherlands have been infected with measles, Telegraaf reports.
The epidemic is concentrated in the Bible Belt where many Orthodox Protestants live who often refuse to get vaccinated. The RIVM (National Institute for Public Health and the Environment) expects the actual number of cases to be higher because not every sufferer goes and sees a doctor. So far seven people have been admitted to hospital, six of which were children. The RIVM expects the worst is yet to come. A recent measles epidemic in the UK lasted eight months and resulted in 1,219 reported cases and one death.
Municipal health services have started inoculating children ‘on the sly’, NRC reports. The health services have sent letters to Orthodox Protestant parents offering to inoculate their children at home, after school hours. So far a few dozen children have been inoculated this way, only a small percentage of the children of the community.
The Dutch Bible Belt runs from Zeeland in the South West all the way to the topmost tip of Overijssel in the North East, a bit like a spear stuck into the side of country. The Reformed Congregations are the biggest Orthodox Protestant church of the country with 106,002 members. It is the only major church in the Netherlands that is growing, presumably because of a large procreation rate. The largest religion in the Netherlands is ietsism, which accounted for 36% of the population in 2006.
(Public domain illustration via Wikimedia Commons)
Tags: Christianity, measles, vaccination
International Business Times writes about an anonymous 55-year-old woman who experienced spontaneous orgasms that started in her left foot:
The woman, known in the study as Mrs A., said the sensations started after she received treatment on her foot a year and a half ago from a sepsis infection. Doctors said her foot may have experienced ‘partial nerve regeneration’ whereby the brain may misinterpret foot stimulation as originating from the vagina, according to the study’s results.
Doctors said the woman’s MRI scans showed no foot abnormalities, but another test showed differences between the nerves of her right and left foot.
One Dr Waldinger of Utrecht University has been treating the problem with an anaesthetic. The woman has been foot-orgasm-free for eight months.
(Photo of a Fernando Botero statue in The Hague by Photocapy, some rights reserved)
Tags: feet, orgasms, Utrecht University
Chinese expatriates have been buying up large amounts of Dutch baby formula and shipping it to their families in China for the past few years.
After the melamine scares 2008 and later, it appears that Chinese parents no longer trust the formula from their own brands, even if it is made by Dutch manufacturers. Apparently there is a scarcity of baby formula in the Randstad region. Not just the Netherlands but also Germany, the UK, Australia and New Zealand suffer from Chinese bulk purchases, Gelderlander wrote last week.
Manufacturers and supermarkets have asked Minister Sharon Dijksma of Economic Affairs to interfere, NRC says. Dijksma has asked the Netherlands Food and Consumer Product Safety Authority to study the grey market. Producers of formula have promised to increase production in the meantime.
According to retail expert Paul Moers the shortage of formula in Dutch supermarket is not because of Chinese parents buying all the product. Moers says according to Gelderlander that Nestlé, Nutricia and Unilever can simply make more money by selling to Asian countries:
“Multinationals are focussed too much on profit. How can it be that the Netherlands, where the product is made, has a shortage of baby formula? Doing business should also be based on morality and ethics.” Moers used be a manager for Unilever in Asia.
See also: Chinese buying up Dutch baby milk powder (RNW, 2010)
(Photo of a poster protesting Nutricia by Martijn van Exel, some rights reserved)
Tags: baby formula, China, infant formula, Nestlé, Nutricia, parenting, Paul Moers, Unilever
The police of Amsterdam has made a list of all the ‘crazies’ it suspects might disrupt the inauguration of King Willem Alexander next Tuesday, nu.nl reports.
The news site quotes TV news show Eva Jinek op Zondag which interviewed Mayor Eberhard van der Laan. The mayor said that there are people roaming the city with psychological problems: “They are all right most of the time, but sometimes have psychotic episodes and then blame the royal house for everything. A day like next Tuesday is like a magnet for them.”
“There are not that many of them. The police has plans for help and supervision for every one of them.” The mayor is not considering preventative detainment. “But if any of these people still have prison time left from previous convictions, it would be useful if they could serve a day on 30 April.”
On Tuesday 30 April, Queen Beatrix will abdicate and her oldest son Willem Alexander will ascend the throne. The inauguration ceremony will take place in Amsterdam.
(Photo of the mayor of Amsterdam, Eberhard van der Laan, by the Dutch government, via Wikimedia Commons. Yes, I know what you were thinking. No, he is not one of the crazies. At least, not officially.)
Tags: Eberhard van der Laan, inauguration, King Willem Alexander, psychosis