Netherlands Offers Free Sunscreen to Combat Skin Cancer Rise

Jun 27, 2023

The top job of government is to protect the public. So say political scientists and policy experts. The Netherlands is taking that to a new level. How? By giving away free sunscreen to its citizens.   

The Netherlands is a country in Europe. It's best known for windmills, sea walls, and yummy cheese. It has 18 million people. The sunscreen program is to fight rising skin cancer rates. This is a problem that’s hurting the entire world. Scientists think air pollution and climate change are to blame.        

Skin cancer rates have steadily gone up in Europe over the past 20 years. The Netherlands ranks fourth worldwide in melanoma skin cancer rates. That's behind Australia, New Zealand, and Denmark. This is according to World Cancer Research Fund International. Studies show that one in six Dutch people will develop skin cancer. One out of 50 will get melanoma.   

“(Giving away sunscreen) is costing a bit of money but we hold the health of the people in high regard,” Jacco Knape told The Guardian. “We regularly see people enjoying the sun but neglecting to protect themselves." Knape is deputy mayor of the town of Katwijk. He said since the town gets "above the average amount of sun, this is not good." 

The sunscreen campaign launched this month. It's raising public awareness about too much sun exposure. It's also putting sunscreen dispensers in schools, parks, and public buildings across the country. Medical experts have suggested changing COVID-19 hand sanitizing stations into sunscreen dispensers.    

Authorities hope that putting on sunscreen will become a regular habit for children, just like brushing their teeth.   

Photo by Kirt Edblom courtesy of Wikimedia Commons. 

Reflect: Do you think items that keep an entire population healthy should be offered for free by the government? Explain.

Which of the following questions is answered by the information provided in the article? (Common Core RI.5.2; RI.6.2)
a. What is the goal of the Netherlands' sunscreen campaign?
b. How many sunscreen dispensers are being installed in schools, parks, and public buildings?
c. Do any other countries give out free sunscreen to citizens?
d. How much money is the Netherlands spending on the sunscreen campaign?
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