Physicians Call For Better Health Care In Central Europe

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Leaders of the Central European national medical associations and the World Medical Association have decided to establish a regional secretariat to help address the serious health care problems of the region.

Meeting in Prague at the weekend, physicians' leaders expressed their deep concern about the inadequate and inappropriate allocation of resources for health care in countries such as Croatia, Slovenia and the Czech and Slovak Republics. They called for a greater role for national medical associations in the decision-making process regarding the distribution of funds and the reconstruction of health care systems in these countries.

Professor Jaroslav Blahos, President of both the WMA and the Czech Medical Association, highlighted the problem of tobacco dependence, which he warned was increasing in the Central Europe. He said this trend was caused by intensified marketing campaigns directed by the tobacco industry at young people.

Professor Blahos said that a concerted effort was needed to warn the public of the addictive nature and deadly consequences of tobacco. He said the new WMA regional secretariat would play a central role in training physicians in smoking cessation techniques for themselves and their patients.

The meeting in Prague also heard that the increase of communicable diseases, such as drug resistant tuberculosis, was another major problem. It was agreed that the WMA regional secretariat should work closely with the World Health Organisation to streamline effective diagnostic and treatment programmes. The secretariat will also coordinate efforts to reduce the mortality and morbidity of non-communicable diseases.

Dr. Anders Milton, Chairman of the WMA Council, said he hoped that this initiative would further facilitate dialogue and joint action in the fields of medical ethics, quality control, human rights and the development of sound health care systems.