If your child has a municipality of residence in Finland, they are entitled to public health services. Children sometimes have the right to use the services even without a municipality of residence. For example, asylum seekers under 18 years of age are entitled to the services.
You can find more information on the InfoFinland web page Municipality of residence in Finland.
If you are covered by Finnish national health insurance (sairausvakuutus), you can take out an insurance policy for your child, which covers the costs of private health care.
When a child falls ill
A feverish child or one who is otherwise ill cannot be taken to day care. When a child under 10 years of age suddenly falls ill, the child’s mother or father can stay at home to look after him/her. This type of temporary child care leave can last for up to four days. The collective bargaining agreement states whether or not salary will be paid for this period.
If a child is ill and needs a doctor or a nurse, contact the health centre (terveysasema) in your municipality or a private clinic. Health centres are open from Monday to Friday, usually from 8 am to 4 pm. It is best to call the health centre in the morning as soon as it opens for appointments. The person making your appointment will evaluate what kind of treatment the child needs.
If a child falls ill during a school day, he or she will be treated at school. If necessary, the child will be taken to the city’s or municipality’s health centre.
In the evenings and at weekends health centres are closed. At these times, acute cases and accidents are treated at emergency clinics (päivystys). If your child’s illness does not require immediate treatment, wait until the health centre opens again. Emergency services for children and the young are often arranged in a separate unit.
You can also make a doctor’s appointment at a private clinic. These are also often open in the evenings, and sometimes you can get an appointment faster there. However, private health services are much more expensive for the customer than public ones.
If you suspect that a child has ingested poison, you can ask the Poison Information Centre (Myrkytystietokeskus) for advice. The centre’s helpline is available 24 hours a day and its phone number is (09) 471 977.
If a child’s life is in danger or they have an accident, call the emergency number (hätänumero) 112. Ambulances are meant only for serious and urgent situations. Do not call the emergency number in an ordinary case of illness.
You can find more information on the InfoFinland web page Emergencies.
Young children’s health
Child health clinics usually tend to the health of children under school age. A child usually starts school in the year when they turn 7. These clinics monitor and support the physical, mental and social growth and development of young children. Children regularly visit a doctor or a nurse at a child health clinic.
The clinic’s nurse monitors children’s development, vaccinates them and provides information about healthy nutrition. The nurse also visits a child’s home soon after birth.
The child health clinic services of your own municipality are free-of-charge. If you have a municipality of residence in Finland, you can use these services in your own municipality. You can find more information on the InfoFinland web page Municipality of residence in Finland.
Children are given their personal child health clinic card (neuvolakortti) at these clinics. Always take the card along when you visit a child health clinic. The nurse will enter your child’s health information and vaccinations on it. Some cities use an electronic clinic card.
When you move to or from Finland, you should contact the child health clinic of your new municipality of residence. This way you can ensure that your child receives an invitation to the clinic on time.
Ministry of Social Affairs and HealthInformation on maternity and child health clinic servicesLink redirects to another website
School-age children’s health
Every school has a doctor and a nurse assigned to it. The nurse checks the children’s health at school. The nurse is at the school on certain days of the week. Pupils can go and see the nurse themselves if they have a problem. If an accident occurs at school, the child involved will be given first aid. The website of the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health (Sosiaali- ja terveysministeriö) provides information about school health care.
Ministry of Social Affairs and HealthSchool health careLink redirects to another website
In Finland, children are offered the possibility of vaccination (rokotus) against many infectious and contagious diseases. Vaccinations are given at child health clinics (lastenneuvola) and in schools. Vaccinations that are a part of a vaccination programme are free of charge to the parents. Vaccinations are voluntary. The majority of children in Finland are given the vaccinations included in vaccination programmes. Tell the nurse which vaccinations your child has been given before coming to Finland.
If you want your child to be given a vaccination that is not in the vaccination programme, make an appointment with a doctor. The doctor can write a prescription for the vaccination, and the nurse can vaccinate your child. You must buy the vaccination yourself from a pharmacy.
The National Institute for Health and WelfareFinland's vaccination programmeLink redirects to another website
Long-term illness or caring for a disabled child
You can apply for special child-care allowance if you have to participate in the care or rehabilitation of a seriously ill or disabled child under the age of 16 and, therefore, cannot work. As an alternative to the special child-care allowance, you may be entitled to rehabilitation allowance during your child’s rehabilitation.
KelaSpecial care allowance for a person under 16 years oldLink redirects to another website
The Social Insurance Institution of Finland, KelaDisability benefit for a childLink redirects to another website
A circumcision (ympärileikkaus) is always an irrevocable operation. If it is performed for a non-medical reason, a boy’s bodily integrity is violated. A circumcision may only be performed by a qualified doctor. A written consent from the boy’s guardians is required for the circumcision. If the child has two guardians, both of them must consent to the operation, or otherwise, it must not be performed. The boy has the right to refuse the operation.
A circumcision must not be performed without pain relief provided by a doctor, and it must be performed under sterile conditions. A non-medical circumcision is not covered by publicly funded health care, so it cannot be performed at a public health centre, and it must be paid by the party who is having it performed.
You can ask for more information on circumcision from a maternity clinic, a doctor at a health centre, a school nurse or a school doctor.
Female genital mutilation
Female genital mutilation is a crime in Finland. It can be punished with many years in prison. It is also a crime to make a girl undergo genital mutilation abroad.
Genital mutilation causes a wide range of serious health problems and is often harmful to health even in adulthood. Mutilation is also a frightening and potentially very shocking experience for a child.