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Medical assistance and prevention

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‚ÄčMedical Assistance and Prevention

Asylum seekers, like Dutch residents, can visit a general practitioner, midwife or hospital. But you need to make an appointment first.

Here you find all information about: visiting a doctor, the Dutch health care system, getting medicine, youth health care etcetera.

Healthcare in the Netherlands
The healthcare system in the Netherlands might be very different from the situation in your homeland. For example: the family doctor plays a big role in the healthcare system. He or she is the one you go to first. You cannot go directly to a hospital if there is no emergency help needed.
Even if  you need specific care, you have to go to the family doctor first to get a referral note.
Here you read more about healthcare in the Netherlands (only in English) http://www.gcasielzoekers.nl/en/to-the-doctor/healthcare-in-the-netherlands.html

COA made a brochure with the most important information Information about health care in the Netherlands for residents of asylum seekers' centres (azc). You can read it here.

Health care card
Within 4 to 8 days after your arrival, you will receive a health care card. You need this card, together with your proof of identity, for each conversation with the Call Centre and each visit to the GC A, the dentist or the hospital.

Health education
The GGD (municipal health service) organises health education meetings at every COA location. Their purpose is to support you with all health issues you might have. Topics that are discussed at those meeting are for example: the Dutch healthcare system, self-care, sexual health, help with the upbringing of your children, healthy food and lifestyle. You will get an invitation from COA or GGD for the meetings. There are translators present at the meetings.

Youth health
In the Netherlands a child's development is being watched over from the day they are born until their 19th birthday. This way health problems can be prevented or treated in an early stage. Children are being vaccinated to prevent them from getting serious diseases like diphtheria, mumps, measles or polio. Also children living at a COA location are being examined. At the centre there are paediatricians and nurses (of GGD or Youth healthcare organisation) specialised in youth health. They examine every child and watch their physical development as well as their social and emotional wellbeing. If they see any need, they will refer to a specialist. The youth health centre also organises information courses to help you raising and caring for your children. You will get several invitations for the youth health examinations and/or vaccinations.

I need a doctor:

- Go to someone of the COA staff. They can tell you where to go and will help you to understand the Dutch healthcare system.
Healthcare providers can call on a professional interpreter's services. COA pays the interpreter's fees.

- Or go to the Walk-in Consult of the Asylum Seekers Health Centre (GC A)

You can go during the walk-in consulting hours of the GC A without an appointment. You can explain your symptoms here to the doctor's assistant. This assistant can then make an appointment with the doctor or practice-nurse.

Here you can find the location and opening hours of walk-in consulting (only in English)


If you have pain outside of the consultation hours or have a medical question, you can always call the GC A Practice line. Qualified doctors' assistants work here, and they can always consult with a family doctor. The doctor's assistant at the Practice line can talk with you about your symptoms or questions. If you have to go to a doctor, the staff member from the Practice line can make an appointment for you. If necessary, an interpreter can be arranged. Everyone can call and use the Practice line, even if they speak little to no English or Dutch.

The GC A Practice line is available from Monday through Friday, from 8.30 am to 5.00 pm. For other times, it is only available in case of an emergency.
The GC A Practice line: 0 881 122 112


You might also find a lot of medical information in their Frequently Asked Questions section



Visit the dentist if you experience acute and severe tooth pain. A dentist is a doctor who knows everything about teeth and molars. Call the GC A Call Centre to make appointment with the dentist.

I need medicine
The GC A employee or your general practitioner will provide you with a prescription for medicine. A prescription is a small note with the name of a medicine. Submit the prescription to the pharmacy. You will then receive the medicine and an explanation of its use. Medicines such as paracetamol and nasal sprays can be bought directly at the pharmacy, chemist's, and supermarket. The COA employee can tell you where to find these or you can use the button: Location at this app

I'm pregnant

If you are pregnant, you will be provided with an obstetrician. The obstetrician will assist you during your pregnancy, the birth, and the days following the birth. You must make an appointment with the obstetrician yourself. COA can provide you with assistance in that regard. It is important that you do so as soon as possible. Doing so in a timely manner ensures the proper monitoring of your health and that of the baby's.


TBC examination
When you came from a country with a high risk of Tuberculosis (TBC), you will get a TBC examination, once you arrived at the COA location. TBC is a severe and contagious lung disease. A doctor will examine you for TBC upon your arrival in the Netherlands. This is a mandatory examination. A doctor of the Municipal Health Service Department (GGD) will take an x-ray of your longs. You will receive an invitation for this purpose. If you have TBC, you will receive medicines. Children under 12 will get a BCG vaccination.


Child (and adult) safety: drowning hazard!

There is a lot of water in the Netherlands. It is therefore important that you know how to swim! Even if you do, the water still presents a lot of hazards:
1. the bottom can be uneven and can suddenly become very deep. So, you will no longer be able to stand;
2. cold water can give you cramps;
3. strong currents can drag you away.

Always be careful, even in calm and beautiful weather.

Don't let children ever play in or near the water unattended!!

This folder may save the life of your child. Every year children die from drowning because their parents were not paying attention. Keeping your eyes open is just as important as a swimming certificate.

Outdoors hazards: Ticks, eating mushrooms, berries


  • Don't eat any wild berries or mushrooms. Some sorts are very poisonous!
  • Beware of ticks!
    A tick is a small blood sucking mite. They live in woods, long grass, undergrowth etcetera. They can be as small as the period sign at the end of this sentence. Once they have bitten someone they can grow to the size of a pea.
    Ticks can carry serious diseases such as Lyme disease.
    Stay save:

    Keep your legs and arms covered
    Try not to brush against vegetation
    Wear light clothing: ticks are easier to spot
     Check each other's skin for ticks after a walk: tick bites are painless and can go unnoticed
    If you see a tick on your (or someone else's) skin:
    Remove it carefully with tweezers or a tick remover or let a doctor do so
    DO NOT squash the tick or apply any creams, oils or heat to the tick (if you put a tick under pressure, you may pump its saliva and stomach contents into you!)
    Go to a doctor when flu like symptoms appear between the day you were bitten up to 230 days.
    Go to a doctor when the bit mark on your skin looks like a bulls eye, so with a circle around it.



Good hygiene reduces the risk of illness. The website Goviralgo also explains why washing your hand and covering your cough is so important, plus also tells you what to do in case of head lice and scabies for example.

Your body, sexual health, relationships
This website provides you with all information you might need about
your body; family planning & pregnancy; infections; sexuality; relationships & feelings, and rights & law. In 11 languages.

At this moment there is no version of this website which is based on Dutch legislation. There will be soon. But to make sure you get the right information, please check with COA or GGDGHOR.


Useful weblinks

An initiative of Pharos and GGD Utrecht. Syrian doctors and health professionals are answering questions with help from a Dutch 'buddy'.