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Monday 24.02.2020 | Name days: Diāna, Dina, Dins

Last year’s accomplishments in Latvia’s healthcare

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healthcare, accessibility, Healthcare Ministry, funding, professionIn regards to the accomplishments in healthcare observed over the course of 2019, Latvian Healthcare Minister Ilze Viņķele mentioned the cancellation of the initially planned adoption of the two-basket healthcare system and the signing of the agreement for a transition period until 2021, during which the state will review the tax system to ensure automatic health insurance for those under special tax regime, as reported by Healthcare Ministry.

Until then healthcare services for all Latvian residents is provided based on equal principles. Legislative drafts that provide for the adoption of solidary participation of all residents in healthcare and prevention of discrimination of taxpayers based on their status are currently in the works for public discussions.

Additionally, changes were accomplished for the order in which compensated medicines are to be prescribed last year. This provides for prescriptions to be issued for active substances contained in medicines starting from 1 April 2020. Pharmacies will have to provide medicines with the lowest patient fees possible. This will ensure patients will not overpay for medicines and medicine manufacturers will be more interested in reducing prices, Healthcare Ministry notes.

Healthcare minister also outlines improvements made to mental health services. Last year’s approved plan provides for developing outpatient care in mental health in order to assist people suffering from mental health problems. Medicines for mental health are already cheaper for patients – compensation amounts have been increased to 75% (50% in the past) for certain diagnoses and up to 100% for specific diagnoses.

The list of diagnoses eligible for state-funded medicines has also been expanded.

Treatment in mental health is in the process of being improved by means of multi-disciplinary teams. Reorganization of multiple psychiatric hospitals has commenced to improve healthcare accessibility and quality for patients.

Viņķele stresses that over the course of the year the audit in the country’s healthcare system will continue. In 2019 there was an audit for mammography services and stroke treatment. It is also necessary to continue evaluating operations of different hospitals.

Healthcare Ministry’s Pharmacy Department director Inese Kaupere explained the accomplishments and planned improvements for financial and physical accessibility of medicines. As previously reported, Latvian Healthcare Ministry has developed proposals for review of markup for medicines, better medicines market transparency and pharmacy location criteria.

Healthcare Ministry’s deputy state secretary Līga Šerna presented accomplishments in public health, healthcare and industry human resource-wise. In 2019 experts developed the Alcoholic beverages consumption reduction and alcohol restriction action plan for 2020-2022, as well as anti-microbial resistance limitation and cautious antibiotics use plan One Health for 2019-2020. Public education campaigns for promotion of preventive healthcare measures and support activities for healthcare industry professionals who want to work in regional healthcare centres were implemented. Healthcare Ministry also reviewed the length for training in specific areas of healthcare and developed a concept for development of medical nurse professions.

Riga Eastern Clinical University Hospital’s board chairman Imants Paeglītis reports that thanks to increased funding for wages of industry workers it was possible to reduce the outflow of doctors and nurses to the private sector and abroad.

The number of vacant jobs at RAKUS has reduced 18%, but there are still certain areas in which the hospital experiences a shortage of doctors, says Paeglītis. «Thanks to increased funding, university hospitals have been able to improve accessibility of state-funded healthcare services. Medicine and medical goods accounting has commenced and measures to make work more efficient have also started.»

As a result of all performed activities it was possible to reduce losses by 40% in 2019. This year it is planned to continue founding a unified Anaesthesia Service, unified surgeries bloc, planning, increase output and concentrate resources at Gaiļezers Hospital’s surgery bloc, as well as concentrate surgeries at this hospital. It is also planned to continue work on joint university hospitals’ procurements to thereby use accessible resources more efficiently.

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