Preferential treatment for Latvian minister
Latvia's Minister of Health Guntis Belēvičs has stepped down after it emerged that he received preferential treatment in a hospital. He had a number of moles removed by the chief physician at the University Clinic in Riga without having to wait or pay for treatment like normal Latvians do. The Latvian press is outraged.
A slap in the face for cancer patients
In view of the poor treatment cancer patients in particular receive in Latvia the web portal Delfi finds the minister's preferential treatment particularly galling:
“Was it really necessary for the health minister to receive the care of an oncologist before it was his turn to, and free of charge, simply to remove a harmless birthmark? And that in a country where people with suspected cancer must wait more than six months for an examination? In a country where cancer is the second most frequent cause of death after heart disease? Where many cancers are only detected in their later stages, when only expensive treatment can do any good - which is then not covered by the state because of the high costs? And where the costs for modern medication against the most common forms of cancer are not reimbursed?”
Healthcare a privilege for the rich
There is simply a lack of political will to improve the healthcare system, Neatkarīgā complains:
“For two-thirds of Lithuanians chaos is the biggest problem in healthcare. The second-biggest is underfunding. That situation hasn't changed in years, no matter who has the portfolio of health minister. ... Even if according to the World Health Organisation our healthcare system meets global standards, it simply doesn't work because the money is lacking. And the normal people who aren't ministers or MPs or otherwise privileged continue to live in the conviction that you can only get medical treatment if you're rich. Changing all that will require strong political commitment.”