Healthcare, budget cuts and the arts are on the menu in the Dutch dailies today.
Baby fatality high in Rotterdam
Women in the Rotterdam district of Feyenoord are not aware of the risks of an unhealthy pregnancy reports Trouw. Prenatal and neonatal deaths are particularly high in the Netherlands - one in every thousand babies dies shortly before or shortly after birth. As a result, the country has one of the highest fatality rates in the European Union.
In Rotterdam, the fatality rate is even higher - between 10 and 37 deaths per 1000 births. One in six babies has a poor start in life according to Erasmus Medical Centre researcher Samiha Denktas. They are born too early, have a very low birth weight or have a congenital defect. In the city’s low-rent neighbourhoods the problem is even worse.
For example, less well-educated women are not always aware that smoking has a negative effect on fertility or that a mother’s obesity affects the health of her baby. Since 2009, the city has been trying to improve the health of its youngest residents by examining the risk factors of couples before they begin having children and by holding ‘tupperware party’ gatherings in people’s homes to “wake up prospective parents in Feyenoord”.
Health minister scraps anti-smoking lobby subsidy
Meanwhile, the government has decided to cut the 2.7 million euro subsidy to the Dutch anti-smoking lobby Stivoro as of 2013 writes Trouw. In addition, most of the support for anti-smoking campaigns will be scrapped in 2012. Health Minister Edith Schippers thinks the campaigns are not effective and says she is more concerned with the government’s reputation as a nanny state.
However, the International Tobacco Policy Evaluation Project (ITC) believes Stivoro is an essential source of objective information on smoking and tobacco addiction. The ITC is investigating whether the Netherlands is meeting its obligations after the country signed a World Health Organisation convention in 2005, in which countries promised to discourage smoking.
The organisation accuses the minister of being too eager to please the tobacco lobby. The government has declined to raise taxes on cigarettes, reduce the number of sales points or discourage smoking by printing photos of the effects of smoking on cigarette packets. In fact, the first thing this minister did when the current government came into power was to repeal smoking restrictions in small pubs. Rather strange for a health minister, don’t you think?
Culture cuts to hit the provinces
The proposed government culture funding cuts are still hogging the headlines. According to Trouw, Deputy Culture Minister Halbe Zijstra’s cuts will hit the provinces particularly hard. The southern part of the country fears it will turn into a “cultural no-man’s land”. Only five percent of the cultural subsidies that remain will go to the three southern provinces of Brabant, Zeeland and Limburg. Brabant argues that the cut is disproportionate as it contributes 20 percent of the national income.
The opposition, rather predictably, fiercely opposes the axing of 200 million euros in subsidies out of the current budget of 900 million for the cultural sector. While D66 criticises the rate and extent of the cuts, the Labour Party warns that the policy will put tens of thousands of people out of work.
Meanwhile nrc.next prints the diary of an optimistic young artist who has gone in search of sponsors. Exactly the kind of initiative the minister is hoping to see.
Ruud Gullit faces the sack
Dutch coach Ruud Gullit’s Grozny adventure appears to be coming to an end according to AD. The president of Terek Grozny - the Chechen capital’s football club – who also happens to be the president of the country, says if Gullit doesn’t win the next match he’ll be sacked.
On his website, President Ramzan Kadirov says he’s disappointed with the Dutch coach who he took on to get Terek into the European competition, noting that, so far, he has failed to improve the club’s position in the Russian league.
It is Gullit’s first season with the Chechen club, but President Karidov blames him for the team’s lack of a recognisable style. He says, “Terek look more hopeless now than they ever did.” He accuses Gullit of being more interested in the nightlife than the football. But there is a little ray of hope for Gullit; the next match is against Amar Perm, which is also pretty low in the league.
Pinkpop criticised over Coldplay fee
The success of the weekend’s Pinkpop music festival has been overshadowed by a bit of political fallout. Festival organiser Jan Smeets criticised the increased rate of Value Added Tax on tickets for the stage acts (from 6 to 19 percent). In response, Christian Union chairperson Arie Slob twittered criticism of Mr Smeets for paying 1.3 million euros for Coldplay.
De Volkskrant writes that in programming a few extremely expensive bands, the festival could only afford mediocre acts to fill the rest of the time. AD calculates that the famous British band earned 1.3 million in just 85 minutes, making it the most expensive band ever to play at a Dutch festival. The critics called it the weakest festival musically in years. Nevertheless it didn’t seem to bother the 200,000 festival-goers writes De Telegraaf.