Romania is now in a race against time.
In the winter of 2019 the Liberal government in Bucharest, headed by Ludovic Orban, assumed responsibility for the 2020 budget bill. Under the bill, the healthcare sector was allotted by 23% less than the previous year, that is around 2.4 million euros, one of the smallest budgets in the EU. In February this year, the government adopted an emergency order which was strongly contested by a part of the civil society, allowing patients to access private medical services in the same conditions with the public ones, which meant that both private and public costs were to be covered from the state budget.
After the coronavirus epidemic reached Romania and the number of infections increased by the day, private hospitals took a step back, leaving the hard work to the underfinanced public hospitals. That is why the government is now considering an extraordinary budget revision, allowed during a state of emergency, to grant more money to the healthcare system.
According to the President of the Romanian Microbiology Society, Alexandru Rafila, in two or three weeks, possibly earlier, as the diagnosis capacity increases, Romania will register at least 1,000 new infections every day. In his opinion, the pandemic might last about two years, until a vaccine is found, but a medicine used in the treatment of COVOD-19 may be found until summer. Under these circumstances, the social distancing measures must be observed until the number of daily infections is stabile. Equally important, we should add, is to receive quality medical services. Or, the Romanian medical staff are, at least at this moment, unable to provide it.
Physicians say they put their lives at risk every day. At present, Romanian hospitals have insufficient protection equipment and the equipment they have is not efficient enough. The case of the Suceava County Hospital is relevant in this respect. Half of the patients who died from the coronavirus until Thursday morning, were patients of this hospital. Moreover, from the around 100 medical staff infected countrywide, over 80 are from Suceava. The hospital was closed for disinfection, its manager was dismissed and a criminal investigation was initiated. Hospitals such as Gerota and Obregia in the capital Buchrest, the County Hospital Galati and the Emergency Hospital in Deva are also contaminated.
Romanian authorities are doing their best to provide hospitals with what they need to fight the disease. Thus, 100 thousand protective coveralls were purchased from South Korea via the National Acquisition Office and brought to the country with a C-17 Globe Master III NATO aircraft. Also from South Korea, Romania will receive 2 million coronavirus tests. And, since chloride remains the safest disinfectant, Chimcomplex Ramnicu Valcea plant has modified its production lines to produce mostly sodium hypochlorite. (Translated by E. Enache)