The Reinier de Graaf hospital in Delft and the University of Antwerp will start ‘De Reinier de Graaf Chair in Youth and Alcohol’ from 1 January 2021. Pediatrician Nico van der Lely, who has developed a successful approach in the Netherlands in the fight against alcohol abuse among young people, will hold this new chair as professor.
The aim is to further reduce alcohol abuse among Belgian youth as well. The chair focuses on scientific research into alcohol problems among young people, creating awareness and the first Youth and Alcohol Outpatient Clinic at the University Hospital Antwerp (UZA).
Alcohol abuse by young people leads to damage in society. The damage to the brain causes a loss of intellectual capital. Not only medical costs, but also loss of productivity, destruction, police deployment and long-term intellectual damage affect society as a whole. The new chair aims to investigate current bottlenecks in the Belgian approach to young people and (excessive) alcohol consumption and to develop new initiatives to reduce alcohol use among young people.
The chair is embedded in the Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences of the University of Antwerp, where Prof. Dr. Nico van der Lely will be working closely with Belgian professors Dr. Guido Van Hal (Research Group Social Epidemiology and Health Policy), Dr. Jozef De Dooy ( pediatrician / UZA) and Dr. Stijn Verhulst (UZA).
Prof. Dr. Nico van der Lely has been fighting against alcohol consumption among young people for years. In 2006 he founded the first outpatient clinic for youth and alcohol in the Reinier de Graaf hospital; a place where children with alcohol poisoning are treated and, together with their parents, are educated about the irreparable damage that binge drinking causes. Twelve of these outpatient clinics have now been set up in the Netherlands. Due to effective information campaigns in the country, in addition to activities of the Youth and Alcohol Foundation, alcohol abuse among young people in the Netherlands has decreased.
Van der Lely is now applying his knowledge and acquired experience within the new chair in Youth and Alcohol: “The chair offers me the opportunity to intensify the cooperation that has existed for ten years and to structurally shape it at a higher level. It is therefore our joint ambition to open the first outpatient clinic for Youth and Alcohol in the University Hospital in Antwerp in January 2022. ”
Setting up a first alcohol polyclinic, following the Dutch example, and then creating a national network of alcohol polyclinics in Belgium does not stand alone. It is related to conducting scientific research into alcohol abuse among young people and generating awareness among youth and parents, the medical world and policymakers, but also sports clubs and schools. Prof. Dr Guido Van Hal: “Unlike in the Netherlands, we currently do not have an efficient registration system for alcohol abuse among young people.
Our own research shows that among 17 and 18 year olds one in three young people binge drink at least once a month. We want to map out the problem in detail via the chair. The intention is to reduce alcohol abuse among young people, but prevention and awareness will also receive a lot of attention. ”
Source: Reinier de Graaf Hospital