Healthcare in Serbia
Serbian healthcare has been severely under-funded for many years and consequently, the standard of healthcare available is of poor quality. Medical staff are well trained; however equipment and facilities let the health system down considerably. Healthcare in Serbia is available to all citizens and registered long-term residents. Private healthcare is also available for those citizens who can afford it. The Health Insurance Fund (HIF) operates and oversees the health service in Serbia, the aim of the organisation is to make the health system equal for every citizen no matter what their status, but in practice this is often not the case.
Doctors and Health Centres
Doctors are known as doktor and are the first point of contact with the state health system. Citizens can register with the doctor of their choice. Citizens will be charged a fee for each time they visit the doctor. GPs make referrals, prescribe drugs, treat acute and chronic illnesses, and provide preventive care and health education.
Health centres are known as domovi zdravlja. They are supplemented by smaller health stations called zdravstvene stanice Medical services provided by the health stations include general medicine, paediatrics, obstetrics and gynaecology, occupational medicine, dentistry, home care, preventive care, and laboratory services. The health centres provide public health surveillance, tuberculosis-control programmes, physical and occupational therapy, maternity care, child healthcare and dental care. They also provide emergency medical aid as well as laboratory, radiology, and other diagnostic services but such services must be paid for.
Although the health facilities are relatively well staffed with qualified doctor and nurses, the quality of care is below standard, because services are not patient-centred, there is a lack of communication between local doctors and the health centres, and equipment and buildings are in bad condition.
Hospitals and clinics exist in all major towns and cities of Serbia. Patients are admitted to hospital either through the emergency department or through a referral by their doctor. Once a patient is admitted treatment is controlled by one of the hospital doctors. The conditions in most hospitals are of a low standard. Medicines and basic medical supplies can be obtained from privately owned pharmacies. Hospitals require cash payments for their services, and do not accept health insurance as compensation. This makes medical care difficult for the Serbian citizens to obtain
Emergency care is initially free for everyone, however once your condition stabilises you have to pay a fee for the doctors services. Emergency treatment is provided at the emergency room of all hospitals, the standard of these emergency rooms are poor, due to the lack of funds and equipment. Emergency departments are open non-stop all year. The emergency care services are very expensive and not always an option for poorer citizens.
There are not many private practices in Serbia providing medical care. The small amount of private health clinics in Serbia are not well developed. This is because the majority of citizens can not afford to pay extra insurance to help fund the private clinics.