Eastern Europe's healthcare system in crisis

A group of young doctors in Poland began a hunger strike almost two weeks ago to draw attention to their financial situation. During their period of specialist training medics earn the equivalent of roughly 600 euros. In view of such conditions it comes as no surprise that many doctors are leaving Poland to work elsewhere, and things are no better in other Eastern European countries. Concerned journalists sound the alarm.

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Gość Niedzielny (PL) /

Free market must fix crisis

Gość Niedzielny sympathises with the young doctors' protest:

“Doctors should be well paid. Not because their work is hard and demands a vast amount of knowledge. ... The salaries of doctors should be high because our health is extremely important. On the free market everyone's work is worth as much as people are willing to pay for it. And because our health is important we are willing to pay doctors - even young ones - a lot. ... But even if we spend 20 percent of the GDP on healthcare, without a fundamental reform of the system we won't be able to improve its quality. We should allow as much free market as possible in the health system.”

Krónika (RO) /

Just don't get sick in Romania

Krónika cites examples of the desolate state of healthcare in Romania:

“People who read the papers these days can consider themselves lucky if their dealings with the Romanian health services are limited to outside observation. ... In the Transylvanian city of Deva, for example, diabetes patients are given nothing but mashed potatoes because the local hospital is so indebted that it can no longer afford meat. And an orthopaedic surgeon in Bucharest is said to have extracted horrendous sums from parents whose children were due to be operated on. ... Not long ago it was reported that more than 14,000 doctors have left Romania for the West in the last decade. Romania has the lowest number of doctors per capita in the EU.”

24 Chasa (BG) /

Ageing population, not enough doctors, no money

Bulgaria's healthcare system is facing a major challenge, 24 Chasa warns:

“The ageing population with its chronic diseases has changed the healthcare system and it would be foolish to close one's eyes to that fact. Adverse demographic developments must be borne in mind when planning healthcare budgets, otherwise the confrontation between patients, doctors and hospitals will come to a head. One thing is certain: in future more and more money will be needed. We urgently need doctors and nurses, and it would be smart to try to stop those who are still here from leaving.”