Bulgaria Parliament Elects New Health Minister

Domestic | October 6, 2010, Wednesday // 11:49|  views

Bulgaria's new Health Minister Stefan Konstantinov said he would be carrying his resignation in his pocket and is ready to quit should he fail to tackle the problems in the system. Photo by Sofia Photo Agency

Bulgaria's parliament has expectedly supported the nomination of Stefan Konstantinov for new health minister to replace Anna-Maria Borisova, who quit last week over a funding row that has put hospitals in debt.

A total of 123 MPs supported Konstantinov's nomination, while 58 voted against it. Twelve abstained.

The appointment was supported only by the ruling party GERB and the nationalist Ataka party, while the MPs from the rightist Blue Coalition abstained. The opposition Socialist Party and the ethnic Turkish Movement for Rights and Freedoms voted against.

"There will be deputy ministers who will be dismissed and new ones will be appointed, but this will take time," the newly elected minister said in response to a question.

Konstantinov said he would be carrying his resignation in his pocket and is ready to quit without pressure from outside, should he fail to tackle the problems in the system.

According to him the proposal for the introduction of a legal copay, which the government has put forward in a bid to tackle corruption in hospitals, should be discussed seriously.

"This additional payment may be introduced only in some hospitals, but not the biggest," he said without giving further details.

Stefan Konstantinov is deputy chairman of the Managing Board of the Bulgarian Doctors' Union and member of the Board of Directors of hospital "Nikola Vassilev" at the town of Kyustendil.

Bulgaria's Health Minister Anna-Maria Borisova resigned surprisingly last Wednesday amidst heated public debates on the fate of controversial measures for health care reforms in the country.

Borisova stepped down only a few months after she took over from her predecessor Bozhidar Nanev, who resigned at the end of March 2010 over a conflict of interest investigation.

Borisova has come under tremendous criticism for failing to start badly needed reforms in Bulgaria's crumbling health care sector as the National Health Insurance Fund has had to receive additional subsidies from the state budget, and the government has discussed shutting down dozens of hospitals in small towns around the country.

Just a day before the new minister nomination was put to the vote in parliament, doctors canceled their plans for a nation-wide protest after Prime Minister Boyko Borisov promised to allot additional BGN 190 M to cover the expenses of the hospitals.

Meanwhile the opposition socialists are preparing a no confidence vote against the government because of its public health policy.

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Tags: Anna-Maria Borisova, health minister, resignation, Boyko Borisov, Prime Minister, Bozhidar Nanev, Nikolay Boev, doctors, Stefan Konstantinov


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