Ex-minister of health about harsh lesson of pandemic that should be leaned

When the COVID-19 pandemic started, the public health system of Moldova was in a weak state. The 61 national hospitals have worked for over 50 years and their infrastructure and equipment are inappropriate. When the pandemic broke out, the infectious system had 872 beds and 1/3 of them were concentrated in the municipality of Chisinau. Currently, there are over 4,000 beds intended for persons infected with COVID-19, adviser to the Parliament Speaker Viorica Dumbrăveanu, ex-minister of health, stated in IPN’s public debate “Look into the future after a year of pandemic”.

Dumbrăveanu noted that a large part of the medical personnel of the infectious hospitals was concentrated also in Chisinau. The pre-hospital medical assistance service had 400 units of transport, 70% of which were 100% worn-out. These vehicles were used to transport patients in a very serious state. 30% of the primary medical assistance units in villages do not have water supply and sewerage systems. The National Public Health Agency was reformed in 2016 and became the successor of 39 legal entities following the liquidation of many local bodies, with the lab diagnostic capacity being at a very low level.

The average age of family doctors is over 50 and these form part of the group that is at risk of becoming infected with COVID-19. They should work remotely. The ratio of family doctors in Moldova is of 4.7 per 10,000 people or two times lower than in the EU. The equipment level of medical institutions is of 1.5-2.5 medical devices per bed. In the EU, this figure is of 5-15 medical devices per hospital bed. When the pandemic started, 37% of the medical devices had been used for 10-15 years or even 30 years at a time when the norm is at most 10 years.

“In the Republic of Moldova, the intangible reserves of medicines, protective equipment used in exceptional situations or public health emergencies were absent. It is a harsh lesson that should be learned. We must strengthen this component,” said the former minister of health.

She added that the public health emergency response plan had to be adjusted to the pandemic and supplemented with individual protective measures for medical personnel and other public health measures for the general population, for students. No only restrictions were needed, but also education on public health.

The public debate “Look into the future after a year of pandemic” is the 180th installment of IPN’s project “Developing Political Culture through Public Debates” that is supported by the Hanns Seidel Foundation.

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