Bulgaria's New Health Minister: Roll Your Sleeves Up, No More Jokes

Health | April 22, 2010, Thursday // 14:31|  views

Bulgaria's new Health Minister Borisov is agitated as she talks about the issues of the country's healthcare system during her first news conference Thursday. Photo by BGNES

The major problem of Bulgarian healthcare is its 'lack of substance', which is why reform is needed urgently, according to newly appointed Health Minister, Anna-Maria Borisova.

“Not a single hospital will be shut down, not a single nurse will be laid off. There will be no more jokes, it is time to get down to work,” declared Borisova during her first news conference on Thursday, alluding to last week’s episode in which she refused to answer any questions by journalists by saying she would only smile – behavior that many in Bulgaria found outrageous.

A day after she was sworn into office in the Parliament, the new Bulgarian Health Minister vowed to focus the healthcare reform on the patients and their satisfaction with the respective services.

“We are going to hurry because we are insanely late – but we are going to hurry in a prudent, responsible, measured way, giving every single step much thought and preparation,” explained Borisova as cited by doctoronline.bg.

She pointed out that in 2001 Bulgaria had 293 hospitals, in 2008 – 351, and in 2010 – 414.

“This is a huge increase, all these hospitals are draining public resources, and our resources have not grown, their level has remained constant. We are not against the rise of the number of hospitals but this should be regulated and it has not been regulated at all,” the Minister stated while stressing that Bulgaria has about 3.8-4.6 hospitals per 100 000 persons, while the average EU figure is 3 hospitals per 100 000.

In her words, the annual number of hospital patients grew by 30% in 2008 compared to 2000.

“The other major problem is the uneven distribution of medical specialists. The number of doctors is on the decline. Every single day there is one doctor who leaves Bulgaria. The number of nurses is only half of what Bulgaria actually needs. This is a catastrophe! How long is this going to last?!,” the new Minister exclaimed.

She outlined three short-term goals on which she will be focusing at the very beginning of her term: first, to gather data about the current condition of the hospitals and clinics; second, to define the medical standards for each specialist; and third, drawing a “national health map” which is going to provide all-out information about the condition of Bulgaria’s healthcare system.

“I want to provide high-quality healthcare everywhere in the country. I have left it to the respective specialists to decide on the professional standards – for qualification, equipment, etc. Every patient in Bulgaria has to get the best possible treatment,” said Borisova vowing to give another news conference in three months in order to account for her progress.

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Tags: Anna-Maria Borisova, health minister, hospitals, healthcare, healthcare reform


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