Pregnancy, pediatricians, 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. Parent expats in Belgium will be relieved with the quality of Belgium’s healthcare system, ranked the fourth-best in Europe. In fact, the country provides free or subsidized 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 also explains how to access it.
Partena Business & Expats health insurance
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.
COVID-19 in Belgium
The COVID-19 pandemic has been a difficult time for everyone. Many expats find themselves separated from family and loved ones in their home countries. As a foreigner, it is also sometimes difficult to find critical information regarding coronavirus infection rates, local measures and restrictions, and now, thankfully, vaccinations.
Children’s healthcare in Belgium
If you have health insurance in Belgium, this covers the costs of having a baby in Belgium and also enables 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 pediatrician 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 centers
ONE provides each child with a Carnet de l’enfant. This document records medical notes as well as vaccinations. It should be taken to all medical appointments.
Both ONE and Kind en Gezin provide services supplementary to general healthcare available. They may refer parents to family doctors and also specialist pediatricians in Belgium in the event of health problems. For general minor illnesses such as seasonal viruses, you can take your child to a GP.
Health insurance for children in Belgium
Insurance companies providing coverage for children’s healthcare in Belgium include the following:
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 generally free. Both Kind en Gezin and ONE provide them for all children aged 16 and under, although you may have to pay for any consultations with a GP or pediatrician.
The full vaccinations calendar in Belgium follows this schedule:
- 2 months, 3 months, 4 months, and 15 months (for polio, diphtheria, tetanus, whooping cough, hemophilia, 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 deal with general health complaints and illnesses in children. They 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’re free to choose where they receive treatment as long as your insurer covers it. Most specialist pediatricians in Belgium are based within Belgian hospitals. Details of all pediatric departments at hospitals in Brussels can also be found on the Hospichild website. This site also contains a wealth of information on all aspects of hospitalization of children, before, during, and after their stay.
Dental care for children in Belgium
Under the healthcare system, dental treatments in Belgium for children under 18 – such as fillings, extractions, and brace fittings – are partially reimbursed. Exact refund amounts depend on your insurance policy. Since 2005, all children in Belgium aged 6–18 receive one free annual check-up.
Children’s mental health in Belgium
In addition to support from GPs, the Community Help Service (CHS) has a specialist children’s team consisting of a child psychiatrist, child psychologists, and education specialists that deal with a range of emotional and behavioral issues and offer psychological testing. There is also a 24/7 information and crisis helpline.
Many hospital pediatric 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 as well as support to children and young people from birth to young adulthood.