Surprisingly, and unexpectedly, the cold winter days are arriving, and with them also comes the flu. Each and every year we hear of the confusion surrounding the supply of the anti-flu vaccine which, surprise surprise, is once again not available.

You ask yourself what wisdom or expertise is required to prepare and produce the required amount of vaccine before winter arrives. (I understand about the short shelf-life of the vaccine… but still…). What is the big deal in placing the order in time and correlating the demand with supply? Surely I am not the only one who knows the old motto ’plan, supply and store’. Ask any MBA student. So how come officials in the Ministry of Health have not yet discovered the simple maths of this chain of events?

Most of the senior employees in the Ministry have been there for a long time, they have the experience and they have already, personally, managed a few rounds of mass vaccination operations. So what goes wrong?

I can assume that the producers want to sell, but there is a disagreement, perhaps, over the price. Then the price gets agreed, but there are still debts from the last order, debts from unpaid contracts. The suppliers are not very happy to be underpaid and also have to carry the losses from VAT that the state will not refund.

I am also guessing that if medical suppliers don’t know if they will be paid on time, late payments by the government  makes theprice of the deals could go up as well. The States ends up paying penalties for late payments, or worse than this, the suppliers calculate the costs of the delays into the price, which we end up paying ourselves.

State officials will struggle to agree over the  limited budget for an ever-increasing national need. The numbers of elderly and infirm in the population is increasing, so there are many more candidates who are vulnerable to illness and so their right to vaccination is a just must.

The cost to the State for mass vaccination against flu is massive. We tend to ignore the accumulated economic effect of mass illness on our GDP, on the growth of the economy and the costs of hospitalizations for those who would need medical care to alleviate their flu symptoms.

In this article I will not refer to occasional occurrences of inefficiency and corruption, although we all know all too well that those too play a major role in the chaos pervading the medical arena.

The change that is needed is not only about the management issues for producing an adequate amount of vaccine on time. It is clear that it is going to be impossible to improve current medical issues without resorting to raising taxes. However it seems that the state is denying all citizens the right to appropriate medical assistance and absolving itself of all responsibility for it. This leaves the destiny of our wellbeing in our hands, as leaving it in the hands of the state gives cause for nothing but complaint. We place our health, the most important thing, in their hands, and once they are in control of our destiny, all we can then do is complain about the lack of medical facilities and available services.

The State is allowed to demand the citizens pay their full contribution in taxes, so we should be allowed to demand proper medical care in return. It’s time that we all woke up to the reality of the total collapse of the medical system. Talks of ”Reforms of the health system” are just a waste of time and responsibility will doubtless fall on our shoulders again – it is a slap in the face, especially the next time we have a relative in the hospital.

We must all agree that the cost of healthcare should be financed by the tax payer. We must agree that the tax payer has to pay tax. We must agree that the cost of health has increased, and therefore we must acknowledge the increase in costs. We must agree that the missing components of medical care given by the State should be paid for by us, in the form of Health Insurance and private medical care.

We also have to push the Government to improve healthcare, to reduce inefficiency and increase proper management and accessibility of healthcare to all levels of society.

Finally, I kindly advise you to get yourself vaccinated against flu if you can, or JUST DON’T GET SICK!

The article was published on Agerpres.ro –  the expert opinion column

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