The city hall in České Budějovice closed three primary schools in a housing estate this week after health workers discovered the presence of carcinogenic asbestos. While teachers attempt to create alternative plans for the several hundred students, asbestos concerns have returned to the public awareness nationwide, and health officials warn that many more public buildings may carry the same risks.
The junior coalition party, Public Affairs, will lodge a criminal complaint against General Health Insurance Company (VZP) board members who promoted a project for electronic health records called IZIP and were simultaneously its shareholders. The party also asked its representatives on the board of the state-run VZP, the country´s biggest health insurer, to propose the dismissal of VZP board chairman and director Pavel Horak. Party chairman Radek John said he will not yet specify who the complaint has been lodged against. Controversies that have accompanied IZIP project for the last decade have intensified in recent weeks, since VZP procured 51% of the company’s shares. The remaining 49% is in the possession of an unknown Swiss company to which the project´s founders transferred their shares earlier this year.
The Ministry of Industry and Trade is considering cancelling a long-running health subsidy for miners, the daily Právo reports. The subsidy entails 1,500 to 1,900 crowns in compensation per month paid by the employer to miners who leave their jobs for health reasons and has been in place since 1993. The cancellation of the subsidy would change nothing in the state’s budget but would mean savings of up to 50 million crowns for large coal mining companies. According to documents that the paper says it possesses, the ministry believes the subsidy reflects a time when miners faced worse conditions in their work environments and a greater risk of illness. The miners’ union, which is protesting the move, says that hardly anything has changed in that time and that the idea is needless provocation.
Health Minister Leos Heger has announced that the volume of health care in 2012 will be the same as in the preceding year, with hospitals´ budgets rising by 3% on average and doctors’ pay by 6.25%. In an aside to health care workers seeking the fulfilment of wage-increase promises made earlier this year, Mr Heger told journalists on Monday that the system’s 226-billion-crown budget for 2012 would not have been possible without the assistance of those who acquiesced to legislative and austerity measures earlier in 2011. The ministry’s directive on the matter entails a unification of the payments made to all hospitals, with more sought-after hospitals receiving more money. Investments in new medical equipment, buildings and massive development will remain on hold, and funding for laboratories will be decreased.
The country’s health minister, Leos Heger, has said that hospitals next year should get three percent more in health care funds than in 2010; he made the statement on Czech TV’s Sunday debate programme Otázky Václava Moravce. According to the minister, the bump should free-up state hospitals to pay rises for doctors of at least 6.25 percent; he suggested under certain circumstances the figure could rise to the 10 percent requested by the doctors’ unions. At the beginning of the year, doctors had threatened to leave en masse before reaching a deal with the minister in February. But since, Mr Heger has argued that the 10 percent target has been difficult to meet in light of the newest economic downturn.
The government-financed humanitarian aid programme Medevac which was set up to help treat children from countries ravaged by war or natural disasters is to be extended to five seriously injured adult Libyans who are in urgent need of medical assistance. The decision was announced by Czech Foreign Minister Karel Schwarzenberg on Friday. The patients are to be transported to the Czech Republic on an army plane and are scheduled to arrive on December 12th. Close to 130 child patients have received care in Czech hospitals within the Medevac programme set up in 1993. They were mostly from Iraq, Kosovo, Bosnia, Afghanistan and Cambodia.
German hospitals are holding a job fair in Prague on Friday and Saturday, offering qualified Czech doctors significantly higher salaries and better work conditions than they can hope to get in the Czech Republic. The fair comes at a time when many Czech doctors are disappointed by the fact that the health ministry has cut back on a promised pay rise next year as a result of slower growth and further cost-cutting measures. German hospitals are offering 140 jobs with pay conditions three to four times better than those in the Czech Republic.
The Czech Republic has one of the highest rates of obese people in the EU, according to a survey by the bloc’s statistics body, Eurostat, released on Thursday. Based on data from 2008 and 2009, the proportion of obese people in the adult Czech population reached 18.3 percent, which puts the country in fifth place among all 27 EU member states. Czech women aged between 65 and 74 top the EU’s obesity chart, with 35.9 percent. The survey suggests that obesity levels are higher with less educated people while it found no relation between obesity and gender.
Waiting lists for kidney transplants in the Czech Republic are getting longer each year, but remain shorter than the European average, the Transplantations Coordinating Centre reports. The centre’s director, Pavel Březovský, says that the list increased by roughly 60 people to 651 last year compared to the year before. The reason for the discrepancy with Europe, he says, is that fact that haemodialysis centres in Europe put people on the writing list earlier than in the Czech Republic. Physicians are marking the 50th anniversary of the first kidney transplant in Czechoslovakia and have launched a campaign to encourage living donors.
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