A home HIV test, reportedly almost one hundred-percent reliable, went on sale in the Czech Republic this week, doctors told journalists on the occasion of the World AIDS Day on Wednesday. The test kit costs 450 to 500 crowns, the equivalent of around 26 US dollars. The test, specialists said, was 99.97 percent accurate, but then needed to be followed-up by tests at the doctors’. In general, the presence of HIV is first detectable only two months after infection. The home test kit has been approved for sale in 44 countries besides the Czech Republic. Bliss Without Risk (Rozkoš bez rizika) an organisation which deals with the prevention and treatment of sexually transmitted diseases, has also offered free HIV tests to individuals. The number of people infected with HIV has continued to go up in Czech Republic: the number rose most steeply last year when 157 new HIV patients were registered.
Two people collapsed and had to be given emergency treatment after crowds thronged Prague’s Old Town square for the traditional switch on of Christmas lights on Saturday evening. Around 30,000 people crowded into the historic square and side streets leading to a crush and panic at some points. Some of the worst scenes were around the 52 metre high Christmas tree erected in the square and under the historic clock tower. Christmas markets have started in the square, nearby Wenceslas Square and at other points around the city.
Efforts to diffuse growing tension in the health sector over a deepening financial crisis appear to have failed. The health minister’s announcement on Thursday that projected cuts in payments from insurance companies would be less severe than expected did little to stem the growing tide of discontent. The Czech Medical Chamber responded by saying doctors would start handing in their resignations on Monday.
Czech health minister Leoš Heger announced on Thursday that cuts in payments by insurance companies to hospital doctors for health care would not be as deep as first announced. The minister said 2.159 billion crowns would be cut from the budget next year compared with this. This replaces the earlier sum of 6.0 billion. Mr. Heger said that this should allow hospitals to broadly offer the same level of care next year. The cut in spending to doctors for healthcare is nonetheless the first in the last 20 years. The head of the Association of Bohemian and Moravian Hospitals said there was no reason for budgets being cut. If payments were cut and the same level of service expected, many hospitals would have no option but to cut wages, he warned. This in turn could force more doctors to seek work abroad. Around 4,000 hospital doctors have said they will quit if conditions are not improved in the new year.
A Czech-produced anti-cancer drug that some hoped could represent a breakthrough is unsuitable for humans, Hospodářské noviny reported. The treatment – aimed at fighting lymphoma and chronic leukaemia – was developed by the renowned scientist Antonín Holý. It proved extremely effective against cancers in animals during laboratory tests. However, tests on humans have shown that the drug is too toxic to be taken by people, the newspaper said.
Czech Health Minister Leoš Heger has said he would resign in the event of a mass departure of doctors from state hospitals. In an interview for the daily Hospodarské Noviny the minister said he still hoped to be able to prevent a massive brain drain at the start of next year, but admitted that he might not prove successful. The minister has been pushing for extra funds to reduce the severity of the government’s austerity measures on the health sector and has come under pressure for allegedly dragging his feet on badly-needed reforms. Thousands of doctors in state hospitals and clinics have signed a petition threatening to resign and seek work abroad if they do not receive a substantial pay rise in 2011.
The respected Czech psychiatrist and sex therapist Miroslav Plzák has died in Prague at the age of 85. Best known as a marriage therapist, Dr Plzák produced a number of bestselling books on relationships, and also wrote television dramas and stage plays. A confidential hotline offering advice to people in distress which he set up in 1964 remains active to this day.
A sixty-year-old pensioner is in hot water after some left-over bird-seed he reportedly threw out in his back-yard sprouted producing a number of fine marihuana plants. A Macaque monkey is safely back in its enclosure at Olomouc zoo after repeatedly slipping out on his own private outings and, what’s to be done about a couple of gay vultures? Find out more in Magazine with Daniela Lazarová.
A new report by the Czech government’s drug monitoring agency shows an increase in the number of long-term users of intravenous drugs and puts young Czechs at the top of the EU ladder in experimenting with or regularly smoking marihuana. Some experts say this is largely due to a lack of prevention measures and a large degree of tolerance towards the use of psychotropic substances.
The Association of Czech and Moravian Hospitals approached on Monday Prime Minister Petr Nečas over funding cuts in 2011. Next year, hospitals in the Czech Republic are set to get 5 percent less funds for emergency care from health insurance companies. This, together with a possible mass exodus of Czech doctors, might put patients’ health and lives at risk, the association said. Representatives of the association are to meet with other Czech health care providers on Tuesday to coordinate further steps.