Leading Swiss health care experts are in Prague this weekend to share
their experiences and help their Czech counterparts with the ailing health
care system. Switzerland is known to have one of the best and most liberal
health care systems in Europe. But, just like the Czech Republic, it is
battling problems with the financing of hospitals and growing debt, the
Swiss health minister Pascal Couchepin said at a conference on Saturday.
The newly appointed Czech health minister David Rath noted Czech health care reform is especially complicated - Switzerland has 600 billion crowns (some 24.5 billion US dollars) for a population of 7 million; the Czech Republic has a mere 200 billion crowns (some 8.2 billion US dollars) for its population of 10 million.
The financial situation of Czech households has improved by over ten percent when compared to last year, according to a study made by the Italian UniCredito group. Households in seven Central and Eastern European countries were reviewed and results suggest that Czech households are currently the richest in the region. However, those of Poland and Slovakia are quickly catching up. The study looked into bank savings, stock and bond investments, and also life insurance policies but did not include the real value of property, i.e. cars, land, and real estate.
The Technical University in the North Bohemian town of Liberec says it may help reduce the spread of bird flu during a possible pandemic. Its technology that allows the mass commercial production of nanofibres (ultra-thin fibres that are just one billionth of a metre wide) can be used to make breathing masks. Filters made from nanofibres are extremely efficient because they have such tiny pores that no bacteria or viruses can pass through. The project is already in the testing stage.
The Salvation Army celebrated fifteen years in the Czech Republic with
a procession down Prague's Wenceslas Square on Saturday. The
organisation, which is dedicated to helping the needy, was once active
in Czechoslovakia before the Second World War but was banned when Nazi
Germany occupied the country in 1939. Since it resumed its activities
fifteen years ago, it has set up offices in nine Czech towns and
Besides community centres, the Salvation Army has night dormitories, half-way houses, and runs two farms employing people serving alternative prison punishments.
The Czech government has pledged to buy a controversial pig farm built on the site of a former concentration camp for Romanies. Representatives of Romany organizations have long protested against its presence, demanding its removal or re-location. Although former governments attempted to resolve the matter in one way or another negotiations always broke down over a lack of funds. Prime Minister Jiri Paroubek has now told the daily Lidove Noviny that his government would set aside enough money for this purpose in next years draft budget.
President Vaclav Klaus has appointed Frantisek Dohnal president of the Supreme Audit Office for a nine year term. The post had been vacant for two and a half years, ever since its last president Lubomir Volejnik died in office. Mr. Dohnal, whose candidacy was proposed by the Christian Democrats, won overwhelming support from deputies in the Lower Chamber. A former governor of the Vysocina region, Frantisek Dohnal has resigned from all his political posts and left the party in order to avoid a conflict of interest.
President Vaclav Klaus on Friday appointed David Rath health minister. The appointment came after weeks of controversy between the President and Prime Minister Jiri Paroubek over whether Mr. Rath was a suitable candidate for the post. Earlier this week David Rath fulfilled the president's condition that he should first relinquish his chairmanship of the doctors' professional association. He is the tenth minister to take up the post in the past 12 years and is expected to launch a radical reform of the money-strapped health sector.
The ruling Social Democratic party has recommended that its candidates in the 2006 general elections be required to sign the Code of Ethics. The document was drafted and presented to the chamber of deputies this week by the Chairman of the lower house Lubomir Zaoralek. It sets a framework for relations between politicians and lobbyists as well as ground rules regarding the acceptance of gifts by public officials and the practice of hiring family members as assistants. Deputies have been severely criticized for the above practices in recent years and a Code of Ethics is believed to have been long overdue. It is now up to individual deputies whether they sign it or not.
Czech President Vaclav Klaus has agreed to name David Rath the new health minister on Friday. This ends a battle between the President's Office and Prime Minister Jiri Paroubek, who failed to persuade the president to appoint Mr Rath a fortnight ago. At the time, Mr Rath headed a professional chamber representing doctors and President Klaus feared it could lead to a conflict of interest. Mr Rath gave up the post on Wednesday.
The minimum wage in the Czech Republic will be increased by 6.6 percent as of next January, a spokesperson for the Labour and Social Affairs Ministry said on Thursday. The ministry plans further increases in July when the minimum wage is to grow by another 6.2 percent, according to a government proposal. The minimum monthly wage will be 7,660 crowns (or 311 US dollars), compared to the current 7,185 crowns. The minimum hourly pay is to grow to 45.20 crowns (or just under two US dollars). After the second increase, the minimum wage is to reach the equivalent of 330 dollars.
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