General health and safety information


What to do in case of illness?

If you have a health-related problem, you can be helpded by a whole number of healthcare workers. However, it is best to see a general practitioner (GP or 'huisarts' in Dutch) first of all rather than going immediately to a hospital.

Medicines and drugs

Several healthcare workers can prescribe drugs. Other drugs are available over the counter at pharmacies.

Health insurance

Everyone has to have health insurance, either through private insurance (taken out before arrival in Belgium or through your scholarship agency) or through a healthcare fund ('mutualiteit' in Dutch).

Healthcare costs

Mandatory healthcare cover entitles the policyholder to a basic refund, i.e. to a refund for certain types of medication, and an allowance for numerous healthcare services. More information...

General wellbeing

Health is of course more than physical wellbeing:

Children and health

The organisation Kind en Gezin (K&G or 'Child and Family') offers free services to expectant parents and families with children under the age of three. These include information sessions and home visits by a nurse. They oversee pre-school vaccinations and undertake hearing and sight tests.

Healthcare system

Belgium's healthcare system is known for its easy accessibility and high-quality treatments - made possible by the people's contributions to social security.

More information: consult the brochure 'Everything you have always wanted to know about social security 2012'

Personal Safety


  • The University Emergency Centre is open 24/7 and can be reached by dailing 09 264 71 25 (or just 88 in case of emergency - using a phone on UGent premises) or e-mailing to . More information...
  • The national emergency telephone number is 112. You should only call this number if you require urgent assistance (unnecessarily calling the emergency services may result in a heavy fine). Explain the problem briefly to the operator, who will put you through to the police, fire brigade or ambulance service. Help will arrive within minutes.
  • Other useful emergency numbers

Tip: although people involved in accidents usually have a mobile phone with them, emergency personnel do not know who to call from their contacts list. Indicate the person you want contacted by the code 'ICE' ('in case of emergency'). This is an international convention, immediately recognisable by emergency workers.

Keep safe in the city of Ghent

Ghent is no more dangerous than any other large city in Western Europe. However, it is very important that you look after your own personal safety, particularly when you are unfamiliar with your surroundings.

Here is some advice you can follow to keep safe:

  • Do not give pickpockets a chance: be sure not to flash your money to anyone on the street and do not keep your passport, purse and mobile phone in your pocket or in an open bag
  • Do not leave your bike or car unlocked (tips on securing your bicycle)
  • If you are travelling late at night, go in a group
  • Do not visit cash-points alone at night
  • Remember to lock all your windows and doors of your accommodation - even if you are only going to be away for a few minutes
  • Do not display items which would be attractive to thieves
  • Do not use your mobile phone or music player when walking alone in the street at night
  • Beware of carbon monoxide leakage (aka the silent killer) from old boilers
  • Keep your room locked
  • In the Overpoort-district is a daily ban on glass between 20h and 7h. Fines go up to 120 euros.

Ghent Police

The police department is in charge of maintaining law and order.

For example, you can expect a visit from a police officer if your party is making too much noise and the neighbours get annoyed and complain. Police are also on the lookout for people riding their bicycle without any lights, or cyclists who ignore the traffic regulations.

Everyone is encouraged to report incidents to the police (e.g. if your bicycle is stolen, if you are involved in a traffic accident, etc.). Police officers are there for your security whenever you need them. They are usually not armed and are not connected with the military forces. All police officers are approachable and they will be happy to assist you with any problem you encounter.