Before discussing the Health Ministry's budget, GroenLinks-PvdA tabled an amendment on Wednesday to allocate funds to establish expertise centers for patients with long Covid. The amendment stipulates that more than 27 million euros must be available over the next two years to treat the patient group – which is still growing -. We're talking about At least 450,000 patients, of whom 90,000 suffer from moderate to severe disabilities In their daily lives.
With this step, seeing and treating long-term Covid patients can finally begin in earnest at specialized sites in the Netherlands. This means providing them with appropriate care, as well as accumulating and sharing knowledge about treatments that may be successful. This benefits both healthcare providers and long Covid patients. It reduces the burden on general practitioners who do not have sufficient specialist knowledge of multisystem disease and patients who are referred from one place to another.
The fact that GL-PvdA (together with SP, CDA, Volt, CU, PvdD and SGP) is doing its best for long Covid patients is good news. Yet sadly this is necessary. In recent years, the House of Representatives has adopted various proposals. Last year, the Christian Union's proposal to create the much-needed clinics received widespread support, but then-Health Minister Ernst Kuipers remained deaf to these voices. Because of his unwelcoming attitude, the process of establishing clinics was delayed for years. Delays that patients pay for.
The virtuous city
If things are really difficult, can these clinics be established in the Netherlands? Germany already has more than a hundred long Covid clinics. In these clinics, patients are currently treated for subtype complaints, such as clotting problems and dysphonia (dysfunction of the autonomic nervous system). These treatments are done using existing and approved medications, which have been determined to be safe to use. Although these clinics are not yet treating patients, this organization of care seems like a utopia for Dutch patients.
The support for the amendment shows that many political parties also want this reality for patients in the Netherlands. Now we depend on the voting behavior of the formed parties. The current minister in his position, Connie Helder, had previously announced that he would not take any steps towards the centers. During the discussion, the formed parties stressed that they still support long Covid patients and believe that the promised centers should be established. However, unconditional support has not yet been expressed, and the fate of the centers of expertise, and thus the fate of patients, remains uncertain. This week, the parties ask about the current situation with the funds; From which vessel should this plan come? Do doctors really want this? Patients have been crying out for these centers (if they have the energy) for years, and they are certainly supported by the healthcare providers in this field and their long-standing network of Covid experience. According to Kuipers, this network was sufficient. But this is not the case, as the network's president announced in the media that more is needed. Unfortunately, patients already knew this.
Searching for an explanation for long Covid
Some long Covid patients are already entering their fifth year of illness, with no prospect of recovery. For patients with other post-infectious syndromes, we are talking decades (think of the group with Q fever). They are repeatedly asked to continue courageously. This is almost impossible unless patients are offered perspective and given the opportunity for a better quality of life. This is within reach if our representatives continue now. The formed parties must be courageous: turn words into actions. Now that you can make a difference, stand behind us.
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