My first three months in Albania are dedicated to training: culture, history, language, and sector specified training. And as most of you know, I'm here in Albania serving as health volunteer, so my Health Sector training is to become slowly but surely acquainted with the current health care system in Albania. Personally, I found the system extremely intriguing and decided to share some facts with you if you are also interested...
Albania was under communist rule until 1991, and under this regime the health care system was nearly faultless. However, within the last 18 years, between the recovery from communism, a drug looting scandal in 1997, and the Kosovo Crisis of '98-'99, a serious toll was taken on the health care system. One-fourth of city health care centers and 2/3 of village health care centers were destroyed and up to 30% of medical staff abandoned there posts. To this day, it's hard to keep doctors and nurses in the country to serve when Greece and Italy are so close and offer much higher salaries.
Albania does have a current health insurance program in effect for nation, where people pay 6% of their income to register with a primary care doctor and receive all services for free with a small co-pay for some medications. Unfortunately, the amount of corruption within this system surpasses the health insurance, and most people who pay do NOT receive the care they are promised, especially those in smaller villages. Most health care is paid from the pockets of the people, and there are unfortunately no NGO's or charities to help people who cannot afford care.
STATS: Inf. Mortality: 28/1000 live births and increasing, Maternal Mortality: 55/10,000 live births. Leading causes of death include 1) Cardiovascular 2)Trauma 3)Malig. Disease and 4)Respiratory Disease.
In general, I feel that it is almost unbelievable I'm living in a post-communist society. As much as I've read, learned, and know about Communism, seeing the effects first hand are pretty incredible though hard to wrap my head around and come to terms with living here. I'll be keeping you updated with more about this as I start getting my foot in the door of the health care system here in Albania. Enjoy =)