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Prof. Dr. Anton J.M. Loonen


This is the fifth blog on this foundation’s website. The past year did bring some changes for me personally. Much to my delight, I emigrated from the European Netherlands and am now a resident of the Caribbean Netherlands. Although I still have an unpaid appointment at the University of Groningen as an author of scientific articles and several relatives and friends live in the Netherlands, I am happy to have been able to leave that country.

On December 27, 2023, my good friend and colleague professor Brian E. Leonard passed away (1936-2023). He served as a role model for me as a scientist and educator, but was also an example to me for his genuine social commitment. Shortly before his death, he still sent me an email encouraging me to keep fighting against barbarism, by which he meant the foreign policies of the US, UK and EU. I will miss him greatly.

A few more publications appeared in 2023. These are listed under the heading ‘Publications’. The figures from these publications are again in open domain and may be freely reproduced by anyone. A PP file containing these figures are found under the heading ‘Figures’. The publication on the possible role of neuroglia in the habenula is not (yet) included in Pubmed and Embase, but may count as preliminary work to the review in Brain, Behavior & Immunity – Health that provides arguments to suspect a role of immune responses in the mechanism of tardive dyskinesia. A pdf of the results of a systematic review are provided in the appendix to this article.

Over the past few years, my most original work often deals with the possible role of the dorsal diencephalic connection system (DDCS) that runs through the stria medullaris, habenula and fasciculus retroflexus. That this structure is potentially important can also be inferred from its ongoing involvement in forebrain functioning throughout vertebrate evolution. It is exasperating that the main professional associations of neuropsychopharmacologists (such as the Netherlands-based ECNP) pay little attention to the DDCS during their conferences. I have now ceased making this suggestion.

In June of this year it will be 5 years since I left practical health care and I find that I am getting further and further away from it. Yet I find it painful to see how in the Netherlands medicine has been ruined in barely three decades by politicians and officials of the Ministry of Health, Welfare and Sport (VWS). The policies they have outlined have resulted in poor accessibility of care (for example, in youth care, mental health care, pharmaceutical care), over-protocolization, over-valuation of technical and evidence-based medicine, and neglect of the medical premise of alleviating patients’ suffering as much as possible. The consequences of these policies on the longevity of sick people has disastrous consequences for them and society. The Ministry of Health, Welfare and Sport realizes its policy by blackmailing professionals. Any professional who deviates from the imposed policy is hit in their financial means. This is arranged out-of-sight of the public and eludes the democratic control of parliament and the people. I would argue that in the Netherlands the Ministry of Health, Welfare and Sport should be placed under guardianship and preparations should be made for a discussion among professionals about what health care should actually entail. The problem here is that current health care professionals are no longer sufficiently trained to do things differently in the short term. Space should be provided for academic Physicians and Pharmacists to provide the necessary support in this regard.