Healthcare in Albania
Albania has a universal health care system which has evolved from the Soviet model into one nearer to the Bismarck model based on both mandatory and voluntary contributions, supplemented by funding from the state budget. The Constitution of Albania establishes the right to health insurance of Albanian citizens.
Total health care expenditure in 2013 was 5.9% of GDP, about 48.4% of that was government expenditure. According to the survey conducted by the Euro health consumer index in 2015, Albania was the European country in which unofficial payments to doctors were most commonly reported.
The Albanian Health Insurance Institute which was established in 1994 covers primary care and some of the cost drugs in the reimbursement list and some of the costs of hospital care. Copayments on both were introduced in 2008. It is funded by a 3.4% charge on gross salaries and supplied 74.1% of the public expenditure on health in 2013, the balance being funded from general taxation.
Health care in Albania declined steeply after the collapse of socialism in the country, but a process of modernization has been taking place since 2000. In the 2000s, there were 51 hospitals in the country, including a military hospital and specialist facilities. Albania has successfully eradicated diseases such as malaria.
The Faculty of Medicine of the University of Tirana is the main medical school in the country. There are also nursing schools in other cities. Newsweek ranked Albania 57 out of 100 Best Countries in the World in 2010. It has the lowest proportion of doctors for its population in Europe - 115 per 100,000 in 2015.
Recently, the system is experiencing a brain drain as qualified doctors are emigrating to Germany for better salaries and working conditions.
Basic supplies lack in public hospitals and doctors tend to refer patients to either their private practice or to nearby pharmacies. They have also become the targets of assaults from frustrated patients who are confronted with their lack of accountability and rampant corruption. Specialists encourage patients to go to them directly, rather than by a referral, because they want underhand payments. Some doctors do not have the required accreditation and pose a hazard to the general public by prescribing the wrong medication or performing unsuccessful surgeries resulting in unnecessary deaths.
The public hospitals are owned and managed by the Ministry of Health and Social Protection. The government is investing in modern equipment at Mother Teresa Hospital and the Trauma Center. As a result, a number of successful surgeries have been performed which previously required hospitalization overseas. A new state of the art National Emergency Center equipped with GPS systems has opened in Tirana in an effort to efficiently coordinate 112 calls nationwide. Dozens of new ambulances have been introduced and the concept of paramedics is starting to get hold when responding to emergencies. Further, free universal healthcare is being employed in the form of check ups for middle aged women and men.
Many foreign private hospitals have been opened in Tirana employing foreign staff and offering advanced services for an expensive fee.
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