"Manual control" of medicine has a side effect.
Minister of Health Uladzimir Karanik says that a new list of medicines, with "marginal selling prices" will be imposed in Belarus from the new year. This has already frightened off four suppliers of medicines.
What can such a policy of the authorities in the pharmaceutical market lead to? Charter97.org asked Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeon, mother of four children, an activist of European Belarus civil campaign Alena Tsereshkova, for comments. She takes part in the "parliamentary campaign" for Kamenahorsk electoral district No. 101:
- When the power switches on manual control, it always has a side effect - reduction of efficiency. The international economy considers competition to be the most effective method.
As soon as there's an attempt to take control of competition, the consumer's influence is leveled out; only the influence of this very manual control remains.
Do you remember the Ministry of Health carried out surveys on foreign medicines in the summer? In my opinion, it was a great idea to poll the population, whoever it generated. But one can think that the rest of our categories are adjusted to the desired results when we see how the country counts votes at the "elections". Naturally, all this will be presented as "accessibility promotion for the population". But no matter how accessible the low-quality things are, they do not turn into high-quality ones.
After all, a greater choice is more important than a low price. It will be sad when large pharmaceutical companies refuse to cooperate with Belarus because of manual control in this area.
Nevertheless, this is the only thing that remains for the authorities - the population grows poorer. Maybe, some citizens will take advantage of it. Sometimes it happens that bad things are better than nothing, but it does not do credit to the government. If the state wants to stay afloat by plugging holes, offering trifle instead of essentials needed, it does not enhance confidence in it or contribute to the health of the nation.
After a few years, the effect will appear and I'm afraid it will not be positive at all.
- What is the current situation with medicines and their prices in Belarus?
- There's the latest example. A woman warned that she had hepatitis C earlier. She successfully treated him with Indian medications. This is not the first time when I hear that people order medicines for hepatitis C from India. They are really helpful. Since hepatitis C is, unfortunately, a widespread problem in our country, it would have been better for the government to buy in medicines that help. A few years ago, the prices for its treatment were very high.
I am not a specialist in hepatitis, but it is a disease I always risk to catch from patients. In general, it would be better our people could buy more expensive and better medicines.
I can say that Belarusian medicines are not always bad, but "not always bad" is far from good.
- In neighbouring Lithuania, a doctor earns net 1500-2000 euros. What is the situation with doctors' salaries in our country?
- Unfortunately, we cannot compete with Lithuania in numbers. Let me say that doctors in Sweden work less than 8 hours. My sister, who works as a doctor in Sweden, provided me with this information. First of all, if they work full-time, it means high taxes. Secondly, the time she works now is enough for supporting her family and leisure time. Unlike her, I sometimes work full-time and a half, or even more. Otherwise, my income will not cover my needs.
At the same time, the medical sphere has constant manipulations with categories. They are either introduced, or cancelled, or revised. The Ministry of Health either grants permission to pass the category earlier or bans it. As well as everywhere else in our country, the rules of the game are vague and shifting.
It turns out that they want to deprive us of even those kopecks, which we could earn with a higher category. They cheat, manipulate and introduce manual control. However, the higher category does not always mean that the specialist has enough knowledge to be considered more qualified. The state cannot filter competence simply because the whole system will collapse then. Hence, there are some elements of profanation associated with the fact that everyone should pass the category and prove knowledge.
- You take part in the "parliamentary campaign" and held some pickets for signature collection in Minsk. Tell us more about it.
- We hold pickets several times a week. I can say that the atmosphere is quite amicable. There were no aggressive people. People either ask questions, express their support, or pass by.
In general, we talk to people quite often. I should note that many people do not believe that these "elections" will be a result. Many people know who is to blame for the uselessness of the "elections". Nevertheless, I often hear that people long for fair elections, clear alternative. People are positive to the fact that that I continue to work in the medical field. A person who works for people is a desirable candidate for people. I hear complaints about current "MPs" and their activity. People would like to have a more open parliament and get some feedback because now it is a closed club and voters have the impression that many "MPs" are breaking away from people.
We try to explain the importance of the public activity. The only way to make a difference is to work together. It is noteworthy that people agree with us. The situation is difficult, but our work on the streets is crucial. Regardless of whether we can collect the necessary number of signatures and they are recognized by "commissions", our work is useful.
Our flags on the streets wake people up. Most of them didn't even know that "elections" to the "parliament" are to be held in just a month. They will decide the fate of the country for a long time. After all, the laws adopted by the "parliament" can work for decades. A huge minus of our state is that it does not work with the population. There are no public sources people could rely on.
Regimes collapse. The sooner we start to teach our population political activity, the fewer problems we will have when the regime changes.
I consider participation in the "elections" as a constructive and necessary step.
It's a great time to show people that some can be followed. There are those ready for discussion. The main thing that we are doing now is a viral popularization of our position. A person who talked of 20-30 minutes with a signature-collector will continue to share this information: to discuss the pros and cons and so on. This is what we need.
We need this society to have an opportunity to discuss the political situation in the country. Then the Belarusians will come up with reasons for the current situation. Our people are very clever, they can see clearly. If pickets had been allowed every day within a year, they could have raised many interesting and original ideas, because they spring from a discussion.
I am glad that I am taking part in the "elections". I think this is an important step for me and others.
- What would you wish Belarusians in the current situation?
- I'd like to say two things: professionals and active people will save our country. Everyone should be competent and work honestly, and be active when it comes to decision-making. Politics is the case when just because you don't take an interest in politics doesn't mean politics will not take an interest in you.