This is a guest / cross post of Marian van Bakel.
In about two months time a TEDx event will be organised in my home town Nijmegen (8th of April). My colleagues from Radboud University Nijmegen Medical Centre are heavily involved – RUNMC is one of the sponsors. This got me thinking about the topic of intercultural and healthcare, about which you’ll find some posts on this blog the coming months.
The theme of TEDxNijmegen is “The race from 0-110” – and life starts with being born, in which already a great many differences between countries can be found. Probably one of the most well-known ways in which Dutch healthcare is different from other countries is the occurrence of home-births. Although the topic was again under discussion in 2012 (1), homebirths are considered quite normal here. I came to realise this when I was visiting a pregnant friend in Switzerland last year and asked “are you considering giving birth at home or in the hospital?” A perfectly normal question to ask in the Netherlands – somewhat stupid question to ask in many other countries…
At the other end of the scale – let’s hope we all get to 110! – is death. Another well-known aspect of the Netherlands is that euthanasia and physician aid-in-dying (PAD) are legal under strict circumstances. Although the Netherlands was the first to legalize, it is not the only country – Belgium legalized it in 2002 and physician aid-in-dying is also possible in some U.S. American states (Oregon, Washington and Montana) (2). It is not the aim of this blog to get into a discussion about euthanasia and physician aid-in-dying (there are plenty of other places to do so), but I wanted to mention it because it is clear that there are also differences between countries when it comes to dying.
As there are already many differences between countries at 0 and 110, there will be many more in between. Do you have experiences with cultural differences in healthcare or any other thoughts you’d like to share?