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Prevention and e-health are priority fields for Bulgaria’s health authorities

Photo: BGNES

At the beginning of May, the well-known paper prescriptions which every Bulgarian patient goes to the pharmacy did not disappear. The idea was to switch completely to prescriptions in electronic form this spring, but this proposal was attacked by medical and patient organizations. The Bulgarian Medical Union called the administrative measure "ill-considered" and warned that it would only increase tensions between doctors and patients.

Despite the shortcomings of paper prescriptions, which are often written in illegible handwriting and cannot be issued remotely, the professional organization advocated for them because they were unsure how a treatment would be prescribed to the patients by the emergency medical teams, for example, during their home visits. Patients’ organizations, in their part, announced they supported the introduction of electronic prescriptions but disagreed with the complete elimination of the paper prescriptions. Instead, they insist that the paper prescriptions remain in use, along with the electronic prescriptions, as in other European countries.

However, the month of May came with changes and more revenue in the field of Bulgarian healthcare. With the annex to the National Framework Agreement for Medical Activities (signed at the end of April), it became clear that another BGN 604 million will flow into the Bulgarian healthcare system. They are allocated for better disease prevention and better pay for doctors.

Bulgaria’s Health Minister Asena Serbezova highlighted the main priorities in the sector, mainly "e-health, child and maternal health, raising salaries and balancing income inequalities".

"In the last 20 years, most hospitals in Bulgaria have been facing many problems and these problems are getting graver," the minister explained in an interview with BNR. “The main focus in the annex to the National Framework Agreement is the additional BGN 604 million, a comprehensive increase in the budget for the medical activities in outpatient care, as well as in hospital care. This is an increase of 25% on average. Especially in the last two years, we have realized how important it is for our doctors, including nurses and orderlies, to be well-motivated and well-paid and how important it is for us to focus on the patient, not as a source of funds, but as a person to whom we need to provide better care. The state sets the direction, it must provide good working conditions for medical professionals, so that we as patients receive quality care, and our medical professionals would choose to stay and work in Bulgaria”, Minister Serbezova said.

The best health care controller is the informed patient who is interested in receiving quality medical care, and not so much the administration of the Health Insurance Fund, Minister Serbezova firmly says.

"Bulgarian citizens are the sickest in the EU, have a 7-year lower life expectancy, and some diseases can be successfully cured if diagnosed in time. In our country we have doctors, equipment and medicines. We need to step up prevention. Compared to other EU countries, we have over-hospitalization. Now more than BGN 92 million are provided for preventive examinations, and we are increasing the number of medical diagnostic activities for children, because some of these socially significant diseases are born at an early age. Therefore, the prices for prevention of children have increased by an average of 38% compared to 2021. We have increased the funds for preventive examinations under the Maternal Health Program. Here, however, it is important to control the conduct of preventive examinations. And a patient who does not appear for an examination may be deprived of his insurance rights for at least one month, " said Bulgaria's Health Minister.

Compiled by Gergana Mancheva (based on an interview aired on BNR’s Horizon channel)

Edited by Elena Karkalanova

English version Rositsa Petkova

Photos: BGNES
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