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  • Writer's pictureSmaranda Becker

The challenges of the Romanian healthcare system

Updated: Dec 2, 2021

[Warning - a long but very interesting message]

The Romanian medical system is sick. A reality known by many of us. What are the biggest challenges of the Romanian healthcare system, what are the solutions and why did Help others help choose to support Romanian hospitals by donating medical equipment.

1. Lack of adequate infrastructure

The pandemic, which has been going on for almost 2 years now, has shown how fragile the Romanian medical system is. Its infrastructure (and here we refer in particular to hospitals) is aged, undersized, accident-prone or simply inadequate. The frequent accidents that happen in the Romanian hospitals are a painful proof of these statements.

The solution, however, is not always found in the renovation efforts which are sometimes undertaken by authorities or by organizations that want at least to provide more humane conditions for patients. It's like repainting an old car - it won't be very efficient, but it will hide the rust marks for a while.

Making a significant change in the medical infrastructure requires a holistic approach that takes into account the role, the location of the hospital and the needs of the medical staff in terms of procedures in order to build medical facilities that are optimized for treating patients.

An effort like this is being made by the Romanian NGO Dăruiește Viață, which is building a children's hospital from scratch that meets the needs and expectations of its physicians and especially its patients. Chapeau!

2. Shortage of medical staff

It is not news that an exodus of medical professionals is taking place in Romania. Many doctors choose to work abroad. Romania ranks second to last in terms of the number of doctors per population.

No, don't throw stones at medical staff. Most of the time their decision doesn't relate to the salary received abroad, because doctors' income in Romania has started to become competitive. The main reasons are the conditions and workload, the low professional development opportunities, the attitude of those who should be mentors, and last but not least the lack of medical equipment and devices.

The lack of medical equipment in Romania's hospitals affects not only patients but also health professionals. Often doctors have to improvise solutions or simply admit that they do not have the medical equipment to treat and prevent. What a desolate situation - it's like sending a soldier to war with a wooden stick.

The solution is perhaps more complicated than in the case of the infrastructure because the problem is generated by a multitude of causes, and the lack of doctors is just the symptom. To get better in the long run, the Romanian medical system needs to treat its causes and not just its symptoms. But there are some commendable initiatives aimed at repatriating medical staff, including @Repatriot.

3. Lack of medical equipment

The lack of medical equipment is an acute problem in the Romanian medical system with a double negative effect on patients: on one hand the lack of medical equipment limits the possibilities of adequate treatment and prevention, and on the other hand it affects patients indirectly through the negative effect on medical staff. Many doctors point out the lack of medical equipment and supplies as one of the main reasons why they choose to leave Romania.

There are many NGOs that donate medical equipment to Romanian hospitals, but there is still a great deal of mistrust in the way donated equipment is used. Have you also heard of the preconception that donated equipment will be left in a corner and not used for various reasons?

Let us tell you how we do things at @Help others help to make sure donated equipment is used:

  • By working with hospitals and professionalizing the medical equipment procurement process and project management

  • By actively involving the medical team in defining medical equipment needs and including external specialists in the decision making process.

  • By empowering the medical team, with whom we are sharing a tracking and monitoring program of the donated equipment for 3 years after purchase. Like this we ensure that the equipment is used for the purpose for which it was funded by donors in our community.

I encourage you to follow us in order to learn more about donating medical equipment!

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