Dutch news in brief, Tuesday 10 November 2009

10th November 2009, Comments 0 comments

Read the roundup of today's Dutch press from Radio Netherlands.

Health minister recommends swine flu
Swine flu vaccination continued to dominate the front pages of most papers as Health Minister Ab Klink urged parents to vaccinate children from six months to four years old based on the recommendation of the health council. 

de Volkskrant said vaccination was also being advised for the family members who have babies that are younger than six months to protect them from infection. The babies themselves will not be inoculated for the flu because the vaccine has not been thoroughly tested on people so young.

One of the reasons for widening the vaccination programme is to attempt to limit the number of hospital admissions. As admissions are relatively high among the under-twos compared to other population groups, the health council was worried that hospitals' capacity would become overstretched, reported de Volkskrant.

De Telegraaf quoted Klink’s attempt to put an end to negative publicity about flu vaccination circulating on the internet and elsewhere.

"Any risks of vaccination side-effects pale into insignificance when compared to the health benefits," he said.

The paper said the logistics of the inoculation campaign would prove an enormous challenge for the authorities, with sports halls and other public buildings being used for the mass vaccination of youngsters.

Healthcare savings debate kicks off
AD reported the Labour Party wanted to scrap the present system whereby everyone pays the full basic healthcare premium.

Labour MP Eelke van der Veen explained: "The present system is unnecessarily expensive and complex. First everyone pays in full; then, more than half of the people get something back from the taxman. It would be simpler if everyone immediately just paid what they should."

The paper said the reform would yield EUR 59 million for the government who is looking for healthcare savings.

Critics said this was too little to warrant the chaos which would be brought about by reorganising the system.

Undeterred, Van der Veen also wanted to do away with the present mandatory own risk where people pay the first EUR 150 worth of certain treatments.

"The chronically sick and disabled are reimbursed via a complicated and expensive system. If this own-risk charge costs more than it brings in, it should be scrapped," he argued.

Controversial Labour figure causes local crisis
nrc.next said a crisis was brewing in the Labour party’s leadership in Amsterdam's New West district.

A committee unanimously put forward well-known Amsterdam politician Ahmed Marcouch to lead the Labour group into local elections due in March. However, some on the local executive are now refusing to endorse Marcouch, preferring a less controversial candidate.

de Volkskrant explained this may be because he is considered too outspoken by people including many from his own Moroccan-Dutch community. Many Muslims find his position on gay rights and his tough words on problematic Moroccan youths hard to take.

nrc.next reported rumours of Labour chair Lilianne Ploumen of threatening to sack the local executive if they fail to put Marcouch forward.

A Labour spokesman explained that this wouldn't be necessary: "Four of the seven executive members back Marcouch. The rules are that if the executive can't agree it will fall."

Minister gets tough with students who commit student-grant fraud
Education Minister Ronald Plasterk is getting tough on students who lie about where they lived in order to get more living expenses from the government.

Trouw said many students get an extra EUR 200 added to their grant every month by saying they live away from their parents.

Under existing laws, if students are found to have committed address fraud, the money they owe is added to the money they have to repay after finishing their studies and getting a job.

Plasterk planned to introduce legislation which would require students to pay the money back immediately plus a 25-percent fine. He also wanted more serious cases of student-grant fraud to be dealt with by the courts.

Big news in little town
de Volkskrant published a picture of Sultan Kösen from Turkey, at 2.465 metres, the world's tallest man, towering over the tiny buildings of the miniature Dutch town, Madurodam. Next to him stood the tallest Dutch man, Rob Bruintjes, a mere 2.21 metres.

The paper said the drawbacks of being so tall included obvious jokes such as "Is it cold up there?"

Bruintjes also listed the many other inconveniences including "having to get everything tailor-made, from shoes and clothes to furniture."

The paper said Kösen did not mind putting up with the tedious jokes and inconvenience. Since officially being named the world's tallest man, he has earned a good living from his guest appearances.

Radio Netherlands / Mike Wilcox / Expatica

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