Parents have the choice in Belgium. From the moment of his/her birth the child can be catered for by your family doctor or by a practitioner from the so-called ONE surgery (definition below).
The later can be a general doctor or a paediatrician. It is still possible to combine those two possibilities. But beware: Many cooks spoil the broth. The more advice is given, the bigger the risk of confusion. The paediatrician of your choice is qualified to accompany your child from age 0-15 years.
The ONE (Office of Birth and Childhood) is integral part of the Belgian National Health Service. It is the branch financed by the French speaking Belgian Community and aims at protecting mother and child. Its role is strictly preventive, it monitors the growth and health of children aged 0-6 years. Its activities are performed in surgeries referred to as “consultations ONE” spread out over the Belgian territory according to language-based criteria.
The ONE nurse responsible for a “ONE consultation” is immediately informed on the birth of a child in her geographical sector. She contacts the mother of the newly-born shortly after them leaving the maternity ward. This is either done by phone or by a house call.
Despite the (understandably wrong) impression created, to attend a “ONE consultation” is in no way compulsory.
Services offered by ONE doctors and paramedical staff are always free of charge.
Another field of activity of the ONE is the monitoring of “infant centres” (crèche, day care, etc.) Those control activities are compulsory. However, should a ONE doctor identify a medical problem, he cannot start a treatment (with exception of medical emergencies). Although it is in his power to prevent a child from rejoining an “infant centre” until a certificate is produced from his/her family doctor or paediatrician. On this certificate the doctor has to give precise details concerning the length of absence and the exact nature of the prescribed treatment (dosage, number of administrations of medicine). It is possible that a ONE doctor considers it essential to consult a specialist (paediatrician, HEENT, orthopaedist, ophthalmologist etc.). He/she is however not allowed to make a referral to a precise doctor. This is the sole privilege of the family doctor or the paediatrician.
During school age, i.e. 6-18 years, your child will have once yearly a check-up by the “Promotion de la santé à l’école” (Medical Inspection Service for Schools). His/her job is to notice any abnormalities and to hand you a sheet which be filled out by your paediatrician or general medical practitioner of choice.