Saturday, December 26

Health care system in Azerbaijan

Following dissolution of the Soviet Union, Azerbaijan's health care system was devastated. What was used to be centrally planned, free and general health care system, became vague institution run on "small" bribes (hormet) paid in form of everything and anything (depending on that person's status) with worsened quality and poor access (especially in remote areas of the country).

Those who can afford it, head to private hospitals for treatments and check- ups that could cost more than an average salary (which is approximately 250 Azeri Manat according to state statistics).

Those who can't, head to state hospitals (worse nightmare) where quality is so low that you feel like going back home and basically dying (perhaps you might think I am exaggerating, but trust me its the last place you want be if you are sick).

The law “About Protection of Health of the Population” stipulates state’s responsibility in financing health services. According to the law, the state takes on the full responsibility to pay for all aspects of the health system, however, so far (since transition) the state failed to fulfill its obligations within this realm and thus people must pay informally for health care and while the state constitution exempts certain groups- veterans, servicemen, pensioners, refugees, IDPs, medical professionals, education professionals- from medical payment, no such regulation is valid within the current system (Health care systems in transition: Azerbaijan, John Holley, Oktay Akhundov, Ellen Nolte, WHO, 2004, pp. 20, 23).

So on one hand we have a law that stipulates free health care and on the other hand, hospitals where one can spend around 200 EUR for a simple visit (blood test, brain scan and other needs, one might need when coming to a hospital).

This brings me to a conclusion that stipulates one thing but proves to be a completely different thing in practice. So, if lets say in theory, I am a pensioner, getting minimum pension, which is 75 manat and need to get a brain scan which costs approximately 50 manat, how the hell I am supposed to live for the rest of the month (and this is only if I just gotten my pension which leaves the bills, the medicine, and rest of expenses unpaid)? Do I then, in this case, stay home and not see a doctor, do I see a doctor and spend my last money on the visit and then starve (which basically makes my visit a doctor completely useless) or do I complain- but to whom and where and will that even matter?

So, bearing this mind, I wish everyone a healthy New Year (and especially for those living in Azerbaijan, without insurance and on minimum salary and pension)!


Anonymous said...

yep...exactly. Healthy new year year to everyone and healthy and truly merry Christmas to all who celebrate the holy day.
The life under conditions you describe is called survival. In Azerbaijan people don't live with miserable salary and unbearably corrupt health care system but survive under those strange, confusing, and - I would say - excruciating conditions.
I know from personal experience how it is difficult to live and to follow your principles, God forbid, something like don't take bribe and don't offend.
So, those who survive without giving up to system should be supported as heroes.
Evveller deyerdiler, papaq altinda ne qeder oglanlar yatir. Indi demek lazimdi ki, o olkede, o rejim altinda ne qeder (ne qeder?) qehremanlar bir teher bash girleye bilir.
Nese...canini sixmayim. Ugurlar.

A peasant from Baku.

Matthew Bach said...

Fascinating! I was under the impression that the health-care system was like that, though I never had the chance to experience it first-hand.

It's also interesting to note that most (even relatively modest) people from Baku go to Russia or Turkey for major operations.

Arzu Geybulla said...

Yes, I had the privilege to experience our "modernized" health care several times. My mother was having some serious health problems and so whilst my short stays in the country I saw how things are run/done here at the hospitals. Not to mention our last visit to a hospital on friday- i had to pay for everything. Ridiculous.

And yes, you are right Matthew about Azerbaijanis leaving for Turkey and Russia for treatments. I think there is also Iran and Georgia as two other - slightly cheaper- options but with good doctors.

Thank you for your comments,

syrizix said...

Greetings from Greece.
I ask your permission to repost your text in my blog.

Happy new year


Arzu Geybulla said...

Hi Loukianos,

You may repost this post, but may I ask why?

Thank you,

syrizix said...

Hi arzu geybulla

1. It's very interesting that what you describe is happening AFTER the USSR has dissolved.
2.The Greek National Health System has also failed to meet the needs of the greek people. The health system as a whole is gradually falling to the hands of private enterprise. This has come as a consequence to the national insurance system's failure to cover all the expenses for health reasons, so that people turn to private hospitals or doctors who of course demand a fee too high for a low-income working man to pay. Although I must confess that the greek doctors' medical education is really quite excellent.
3. As to our blog; we are trying to host opinions, facts, events concerning different big issues from around the world that could also relate to our life in Greece.


I hope to get your final permission


Arzu Geybulla said...

Hi Loukianos,

You can publish this post and thank you for sharing with me.

All the best,

syrizix said...

Thanks a lot Arzu

syrizix said...

Hi Arzu
your post is on greek air