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Radio Bulgaria among the Bulgarians in Italy

Dr. Evgenia Vukadinova from Rome - our healthcare is very commercialized and this damages the image of Bulgaria

Photo: Veneta Nikolova

She arrived in Italy together with her boyfriend, allegedly for two weeks, not suspecting that fate had other plans for her. Today, 30 years later, Dr. Evgenia Vukadinova has long since separated from her partner, has a 24-year-old daughter, and still lives in Rome where she is a respected orthopedist and physiotherapist, and also a member of the Association of Foreign Doctors in Italy.

Dr. Evgenia Vukadinova claims she chose to stay in the Eternal City "as a joke", but that doesn't mean her life was a "piece of cake" in the early years. "In Bulgaria I was a dermatologist, a specialist in skin and sexually transmitted diseases, but at that time Bulgaria was not yet a member of the EU and our medical diplomas were not recognized in Italy," recalls Dr. Vukadinova. The young woman enrolled to study medicine again at the Università degli Studi di Roma Tor Vergata, but decided to change her major and turned to physical and rehabilitation medicine.

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Today, Dr. Vukadinova works in a prestigious multidisciplinary treatment centre in Rome and feels satisfied because she helps people. But she adds that she has retained her membership in the Bulgarian Medical Union and continues to cooperate with our specialists. However, according to her, there can be no comparison between Bulgarian and Italian health care. "The Italians have one of the best healthcare systems in the world. Here, the patient receives very strong support from the Health Insurance Fund, unlike in Bulgaria," says Dr. Vukadinova for Radio Bulgaria, adding:

"I can say that in Bulgaria healthcare is currently commercialized and incredibly much, which affects not only people's health, but also our image abroad. Of course, this does not mean that our doctors are not of some of the best and the most qualified. We have an incredible practice in Bulgaria, which in Europe very few countries have. We train the specialists while they are still at university and they acquire a great experience. And in Italy, doctors start their practice only after they graduate, but things are very well organized here. So we Bulgarians have very good practical training, but there is still much to be desired in terms of the organization of our health system."

According to Dr. Vukadinova, in Italy, after one examination, any doctor can prescribe or perform an additional completely free diagnostic test, such as radiography, nuclear magnetic resonance, computer tomography, etc. "And in Bulgaria, very often patients are forced to pay for expensive procedures, which for many are overwhelming," Dr. Vukadinova continues with the comparisons.

The Bulgarian doctor claims that she has not severed the ties with her homeland, she often comes home to see her relatives and most of all likes to take long walks in the Rila Mountain. "I adore this mountain," says Dr. Vukadinova. But her soul is in her work and in caring for her patients. It turns out that there are also Bulgarians among them - mostly emigrants who arrived in Italy in search of a better means of substinence.

"Usually those who come to me work as domestic helpers, taking care of the elderly or of young children. They are wonderful people and I help them as much as I can. Because it's hard when you're not good with the language to deal with the Italian bureaucracy. These are mostly women who support their children in university, and not only in Bulgaria. I know their children who are doing master's or doctoral studies in Oxford or Boston and their mothers work to help them. These are humble, hardworking people," says Dr. Vukadinova. And she adds that in Rome Bulgarians are known as good builders, they earn only positive assessment and inspire trust and respect among Italians.

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Photos: Veneta Nikolova, archive

Video: Veneta Nikolova

English publication by Rositsa Petkova

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