Bulgaria: EU Laggard in Healthcare with Lowest Life Expectancy and Highest Surcharge for Medicines

Society | March 2, 2021, Tuesday // 16:55|  views

Bulgarians live seven years less than citizens of the most developed countries in the European Union. In addition, we pay the highest surcharge for medicines - 37 per cent versus 5 per cent compared to other European Union countries, shows the report of Together for More Health initiative which includes representatives of the Bulgarian Medical Union (BMA) and the Bulgarian Pharmaceutical Union.

Data for 2017 show that only 4.2% of Bulgaria’s GDP is allocated for healthcare annually, compared with an average of 8% for the rest of the EU.

At the current rate of investment in healthcare, it will take 50 years to Bulgaria to catch up with the five most developed countries of the European Union.

Since 1960, Bulgarians' life expectancy has increased, but we are still lagging behind the five leaders in the European Union. At the current pace, it will take 38 years to reach the average life expectancy of major European countries, which is 82 years, said President of the Bulgarian Medical Union Dr. Ivan Madzharov.

According to a survey conducted by Trend Agency, 73 per cent of Bulgarians believe that there is a need for additional investment in healthcare. Poor control is the biggest problem, according to respondents. Bulgarians also expect to hear what politicians will do in the field of healthcare. Investments can ensure a better future and health for the nation, Dr. Ivan Madzharov was adamant:

"The fact is that we meet with the greatest difficulties, but this should be an incentive for those who govern the country to pay particular attention to healthcare in order to ensure this accelerated development. Investing in healthcare is something that delivers change, provides a better future and better health for the nation, but in 5-10 years. Of course, it cannot happen right away.'

Over the period from 2015 to 2018, patients in the five most developed countries of the European Union had access to more than twice as many innovative therapies as those in Bulgaria.

The study also shows that Bulgarians rank first in preventable deaths. The data from 2017 show that 4.2% of GDP for healthcare is allocated annually in Bulgaria, at 8% for the other countries of the European Union, said the Director of the Association of Research Pharmaceutical Manufacturers in Bulgaria Deyan Denev:

"Does this mean that in Bulgaria the government allocates less funds for healthcare? It certainly does. The second thing that it means is that the Bulgarians pay out of pocket for health services and medicines more than other Europeans, which burdens those who can hardly afford it."

Bulgaria is also lagging behind in terms of low public spending on medicinal products, said the President of the Bulgarian Pharmaceutical Union Prof. Asena Serbesova:

"Bulgarians are forced to pay the highest extra charge for medicinal products. In Bulgaria, up to 37% is paid extra for medicines, while in the five largest EU countries this surcharge is only 5%".

According to the trade union organizations in the sector, more effective investments are needed to improve public health indicators. The consensus statement will be sent out to all political forces expected to enter the next parliament.


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Tags: Bulgaria, EU, healthcare, public spending


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