Pregnancy, paediatricians, vaccinations and baby teeth: our comprehensive guide to children’s healthcare in Belgium answers all your questions about your kids’ health, from conception to adulthood.
Children’s health and development require special care and attention, and parent expats in Belgium will be relieved with the quality of Belgium’s healthcare system, ranked the 4th best in Europe. The country provides free or subsidised healthcare from birth to the age of 18 to children of all residents with health insurance.
Partena, a Belgian company offering health and social security coverage and advice to expats, gives details of children’s healthcare Belgium and explains how to access it.
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Partena Business & Expats health insurance provides a dedicated service for expats, as well as competitive benefits, expert advice and fast reimbursements on hospital, doctor, dentist and pharmacy fees.
Children’s healthcare in Belgium
If you have health insurance coverage in Belgium, this will cover the costs of having a baby and will also enable you to access free early-years healthcare for your child. Support is provided by regional agencies. In the Dutch-speaking Flemish region, Kind en Gezin (Child and Family) offers support to families with children aged 0-3. In French-speaking Wallonia and in Brussels, services are provided by ONE (Office of Birth and Children) to children up until the age of six.
These agencies slightly differ in their set up and how they deliver services, but both offer:
- pre-natal support
- regular medical check-ups and screenings by a paediatrician or health professional
- free vaccinations
- weighing and measurement to monitor development
- hearing and eye tests
- information and support on nutrition and healthy eating
- educational support
- home visits as well as services provided at clinics and day centres
ONE provides each child with a Carnet de l’enfant, a document to record medical notes and vaccinations, which should be taken to all medical appointments.
Both ONE and Kind en Gezin provide services supplementary to general healthcare available, and they may refer parents to family doctors or specialist paediatricians in Belgium in the event of health problems. For general minor illnesses such as seasonal viruses, you can take your child to a GP.
Vaccinations in Belgium
Laws in Belgium state that all children must be vaccinated against polio. Vaccinations for other diseases such as tetanus and diphtheria are not compulsory but recommended. Most vaccinations in Belgium are provided for free by both Kind en Gezin and ONE for all children aged 16 and under, although you may have to pay for any consultations with a GP or paediatrician.
The full vaccinations calendar in Belgium follows this schedule:
2 months, 3 months, 4 months and 15 months (for polio, diphtheria, tetanus, whooping cough, haemophilia and hepatitis B)
12 months (for measles, mumps and rubella)
5-6 years (additional shots for polio, diphtheria, tetanus and whooping cough)
11-12 years (additional shots for measles, mumps and rubella)
14-16 years (final shot for diphtheria, tetanus and whooping cough)
Taking your child to see a doctor or specialist in Belgium
You can register your child with a family doctor in Belgium and you are free to choose your own GP. Doctors in Belgium will deal with general health complaints and illnesses in children, and will also maintain contact with early years agencies to coordinate health records. If your child is too sick to attend an appointment at the doctor’s office, a home visit can be arranged. Fees for consultations, treatment and medication need to be paid upfront and reimbursements then claimed from your insurer.
If your child needs to see a specialist for treatment, you are again free to choose where they are treated as long as it is covered by your insurer. Most specialist paediatricians in Belgium are based within hospitals. Details of all paediatric departments at hospitals in Brussels can be found on the Hospichild website. This site also contains a wealth of information on all aspects of hospitalisation of children, before, during and after their stay.
Dental care for children in Belgium
Under the Belgian health insurance system, dental treatments for children under 18 – including fillings, extractions and brace fittings – are partially reimbursed, although exact amounts refunded will depend on your insurance policy. Since 2005, all children in Belgium aged 6-18 are entitled to one free dentist check-up per year as part of a Ministry for Public Health initiative to promote dental hygiene.
Children’s mental health in Belgium
In addition to help and support from GPs, the Community Help Service (CHS) – a non-profit organization based in Brussels – has a specialist children’s team consisting of a child psychiatrist, child psychologists and education specialists that deal with a range of emotional and behavioural issues and offer psychological testing. There is also a 24/7 information and crisis helpline.
Many hospital paediatric departments include mental health service provision. The Queen Fabiola Children’s University Hospital, the only Belgian university hospital providing care exclusively for children, has an extensive psychiatry unit providing services and support to children and young people from birth to young adulthood.