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Prime Minister of Latvia expresses support to increase public financing for health
Prime Minister Māris Kučinskis of Latvia acknowledged the need to increase public funding for health in the country at a high-level conference held in Riga in 21 September, 2016. At the same event Minister of Health Dr Anda Čakša described her plans to achieve 12% of government budget allocation to health by 2018, following recommendations by WHO experts.
The conference was organized by the Prime Minister’s Office jointly with the Ministry of Health to discuss health financing reform options in Latvia. At the event, Dr Tamás Evetovits, Head of the WHO Barcelona Office for Health Systems Strengthening, presented WHO’s report and recommendations on health financing policy in Latvia. Read more on the www.euro.who.int.
On June 16th Ms Anda Čakša was appointed as the Minister for Health
From 1992-1999 Anda Čakša studied at the Medical Academy of Latvia earning a doctor degree. In 2002 Čakša completed her residency at the Riga Stradins University earning a degree in paediatrics, however from 2001-2002 she specialized in anaesthesiology and intensive therapy. Moreover, Anda Čakša completed master’s programme in Healthcare Management at the Riga International School of Economics and Business Administration, but from 2008-2010 she completed a program in Psychodynamic Psychotherapy in the Faculty of Continuing Education at the Riga Stradins University.
From 1999-2002 Anda Čakša worked as a senior laboratory assistant in the Department of Paediatrics, at the Medical Academy of Latvia and from 2001-2005 at the Children Clinical University Hospital (further – BKUS) as a paediatrician in the Paediatric Intensive Care Unit. From 2003-2008 Anda Čakša worked in the pharmaceutical company ‘‘Sanofi Aventis Latvia”, LTD and from 2008-2011 as a manager of the Baltic business unit at ‘‘Ewopharma AG/Allergan”. In 2011 Anda Čakša became the Chairman of the Board at BKUS, but from 2014-2016 she combined work at BKUS and duties as a Member of the Board at the Pauls Stradins Clinical University Hospital. Anda Čakša also has obtained professional experience working in the Ministry as the Adviser on Medical issues to the Minister of Health Dr. Guntis Belēvičs.
17.03.2016. Introduction to the results of the International student health habits survey
On 17 March, 2016 a press conference took place in the Ministry of Health of the Republic of Latvia that provided the audience with information on the results of the International student health habits survey, in which Latvia participated as well.
The aim of the international survey, that involved 44 European and North American states as participants, was to collect data and deepen comprehension about student health habits and lifestyle in order to shape the health promotion and health education policy with regard to the health of school-age children both in national and inter-state level. The aforementioned study contains an examination of such student health affecting spheres as health assessment, health habits, consumption of addictive substances, social environment, etc.
The Minister of Health Mr Belēvičs emphasized that Latvia is not lagging behind the general global tendencies and everyday habits of the students are closely connected to the modern lifestyle. Moreover, the Minister accentuated that both insufficient physical activity and unhealthy nutrition forms the main cause of gain of excessive weight and other health problems. Furthermore, Mr Belēvičs also highlighted the necessity to cultivate affection for physical activities from the very childhood, therefore the inclusion of the third sports lesson into the study program proves to be an overwhelming exigency. The Minister of Education and Science Mr Šadurskis expressed a support to the novelty of a curriculum involving the third sports lesson.
The Head of the Country Office for Latvia of World Health Organization Ms Rūrāne notified that Latvia has demonstrated a good example of successful health policy, as the initiatives introduced in the previous years (excise tax adjustment to sweetened carbonated beverages, as well as removal of sweetened drinks and snacks from the shelves of school canteens and cafeterias) have facilitated the reduction of consumption of the unhealthy products.
The Senior Public Health Analyst of the Centre for Disease Prevention and Control Ms Pudule informed the attendants about the juvenile health habits in Latvia, admitting that such tendencies as inactivity, unhealthy nutrition, etc., that are common among the Latvian minors, are in a certain sense a reflection of the global tendencies. However, a number of positive changes have also occurred recently. For instance, the prevalence of smoking among the fifteen-year-olds has decreased rapidly in comparison with the year of 2010. In addition, the consumption of alcoholic beverages has decreased significantly in comparison with the year of 2006.
The data of the foregoing survey on student health habits in Latvia are available on the Centre for Disease Prevention and Control web page (//www.spkc.gov.lv/) in the report "Latvijas skolēnu veselības paradumu pētījums" 2013./2014. mācību gada aptaujas rezultāti un tendences" (Survey on health habits of Latvian students. Results and tendencies of the school-year 2013/2014 survey (detailed information - http://www.euro.who.int/)).
11.02.2016. On February 11, 2016 Saeima expressed its support to the government administered by the Prime Minister Māris Kučinskis where Mr. Belēvičs is going to proceed with his professional activity as the Minister for Health, thus obtaining recognition for the performed work and encouragement for further accomplishments.
In his address to the Ministry of Health and its subordinate institutions, as well as corporations, Mr. Guntis Belēvičs emphasized the key aims and scope of activities, beginning with a plan to introduce and develop a novel healthcare financing model until the centenary of Latvia. Currently, the determinative issue is not whether it will be known as compulsory health insurance or whether it will bear a different name. The attention shall be focused on the attraction of investment that is crucially important to the maintenance of healthcare. Hence, the embodiment of e-health is not merely a goal that is to be pursued, but also a tool for shaping the new healthcare financing model. The aforementioned tasks cover a significant part of the whole work, though it should not be forgotten that many smaller, but not less important, tasks have to be done along the way, as well.
In the previous year those “smaller tasks” were: the takeover of the outsourcing of services of the State Emergency Medical Service, the attraction of investment, the complete refusal of patient co-payment even for the most novel medicaments for the treatment of hepatitis C and the decision to terminate payment of laboratory tests that are unnecessary to patients. In addition, the effort contributed to the completion of the new Pauls Stradiņš Clinical University Hospital building and the increase in wages of public medical service employees from 3% to 10% are also some of the tasks completed in the previous year.
The next task shall be the adoption of a new normative act that ensures a state-covered payment for the residency of a new medical practitioner provided that after the residency the medical practitioner works at a state-designated medical institution for a fixed number of years. The aim of this normative act is to improve the availability of medical specialists in regions. Therefore, step by step, the work will continue towards organizing the health care system.
The success of the team highly depends on the captain of the team. Mr. Belēvičs marked that under the governance of ‘’captain’’ Mr. Māris Kučinskis the anticipated reforms in the health sector will be accomplished.