site.btaExperts Discuss Bulgarian Healthcare's Potential in Medical Tourism

Experts Discuss Bulgarian Healthcare's Potential in Medical Tourism
Experts Discuss Bulgarian Healthcare's Potential in Medical Tourism
BMA Chair Madzharov (left), BMA Deputy Chair Gabrovski (middle), BDA Chair Sharkov (right) (BTA Photo/Desislava Peeva)

Svilena Dimitrova, Chair of the Bulgarian Hospital Association, identified medical tourism as a potential growth sector for Bulgaria's healthcare system at the Medical Tourism: Potential Solutions in Bulgaria forum on Monday. She suggested that with proper development Bulgaria could become a hub for medical tourism. She pointed out that government progress in establishing policies for this sector has been slow, emphasizing the need for stable political governance.

Doctor Ivan Madzharov, Chair of the Bulgarian Medical Association, shared that the industry has a hard time adopting the concept of tourism. He also expressed concern over the high level of distrust in the country's healthcare system, attributing it to factors such as dilapidated hospital buildings and negative treatment results. He suggested that Bulgaria should offer innovative medical services and invest in medical science. He also mentioned a missed opportunity for the country to establish a proton centre for cancer treatment. Madzharov voiced his disappointment that attempts to notify the prosecution service and the Ministry of Health have been met with inaction.

Doctor Nikolay Sharkov, Chair of the Bulgarian Dental Association, supports the need for investment in the dental sector. He shared that 80% of Bulgarian dentists are on par with their European and global counterparts. He noted that the EU's dental services expenditure surpassed EUR 90 billion in 2018. Sharkov also mentioned the rise of dental tourism in countries like Hungary, Poland, Croatia, and Cyprus, with Bulgaria potentially joining the competition. However, he warned about the risks of dental tourism, including service quality, potential complications due to lack of regulations, language barriers, post-operative care issues, hidden charges, misdiagnosis, insufficient legal protection for patients, and medical errors.

Svetla Kacharova highlighted the inconsistent case law regarding medical expense refunds in different countries as a reason for the adoption of the European Directive on cross-border healthcare intended to facilitate access to safe and high-quality cross-border healthcare in the EU. She noted the increasing financial burden of cross-border healthcare and the concerning trend of resources being redirected to treatments outside the EU, despite potential risks and non-compliance with EU directives. Kacharova said that only 40% of patients are aware of their rights as policyholders, and just 10% know about their entitlements to foreign healthcare and treatment. She suggested that approval conditions for foreign treatment should be relaxed.

/DT/

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By 09:26 on 25.07.2024 Today`s news

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