'Worrying' number of Belgians use antidepressants and antibiotics

Although Belgium generally has an accessible, high-quality healthcare system, the use of certain drugs such as antidepressants and antibiotics is "worrying", the Belgian Health Care Knowledge Centre (KCE) says in its latest report on the performance of the country's healthcare system.

The KCE says there is still work to be done on the correct use of antibiotics and antidepressants, and access to the system is often more difficult for people from lower social classes.

The use of antidepressants in Belgium is above the European average and is increasing. Almost half of people aged 75 and over in residential care are prescribed antidepressants, and the KCE believes their appropriateness can be questioned. Older people are also overprescribed drugs that inhibit muscle movement and affect mood.

Internationally, Belgium scores poorly in the use of antibiotics, which is about twice as high as in the Netherlands. In 2021, 32.6 per cent of the total population received at least one prescription for antibiotics, though this is a fall from 41.6 per cent in 2010. The figures were higher in Wallonia (37 per cent) than in Flanders (30.4) and Brussels (29.6).

For more than 20 years, the authorities have been making the public and doctors aware of the problem of antibiotic resistance. These drugs should only be prescribed when necessary, according to official guidelines.

The KCE report is not the only recent indicator of high drug use in Belgium. Last month, another study by the Christian health fund CM showed that the number of children and adolescents treated with Rilatine for ADHD had risen by 20 per cent in 10 years.



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Sharp increase in number of girls taking ADHD medication
The number of children and adolescents treated with Rilatine for ADHD has risen by 20 per cent in 10 years. This is a "dramatic" increase, Luc Van Gorp of the Christian Health Insurance (CM) told Het Nieuwsblad on Tuesday. The number of girls taking the medication has increased particularly sharply, by 42 per cent.

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