»A few years ago there was an attempt to establish the first human milk bank but, like always in our country, something went wrong«, says Nika Benčič, a midwife, from Maternity hospital in Šempeter. And still until today we don`t have one, despite the fact that Slovenia is generally quite progressive in terms of everything to do with childbirth and raising children. Experts share the opinion that it`s not enouhg just a general awareness about the benefits of feeding with breast milk for establishing human milk bank, but it also demands certain economic plan, the provision of necessary resources and adequately trained health care workers. And that is not possible to ensure in a state of health care system like it is now.
Lately there were many problems and affairs which society and health care workers had to face, especially with chaotic state in the department of Child cardiology in UKC Ljubljana and sad stories from there. Beside that are also problems with long waiting periods and financing of health care system. »This is the worst mandate of the government for our health care system and many facts can confirm that. More than 55.000 pacients are waiting for the medical examination, in the beginning of mandate we had 40.000 waiting, hospitals are facing unregulated conditions and the labour shortage of docotors and other staff, there is a division between working doctors and what is worst – for this government a patient has become unimportant and just a collaretal damage in this system. I can say for sure that this premier is far worst president of the government Slovenia had since its independence! He should recede and we would have an early election.«, said Danijel Bešič Loredan, a surgeon and a leader of Initiative of doctors for transparent and professional public health service.
Slovenia has declared its independence in 1991. Before that, we were part of common state Yugoslavia. When Slovenia wanted to split off from Yugoslavia faced many difficulties which almost lead to war, in fact there was a 10-days long period of a tense situation. But we succeeded and now we have our own state, which is part of EU.
Regarding to the state of health care system there is a quote from premier Miro Cerar (in 24 ur, tv news show) which must be emphasised. »Condition of health care system is not a governments defeat. The government is not the only one who is responsible for that.« He puts the blame also on the citizens themselves, who should do more on the prevention and healthy life style. He admits that there are some troubles and challenges a government had to face according to the system, but the co-responsibilitiy fort that kind of state is much wider.
There were many warnings in last two years for premier and ministry of health from many different groups and individuals, evoking to them that they must do something, especially in leadership in UKC Ljubljana. Because things were getting out of control. Media were showing very sad stories of children and their parents, who had seen what is happening there and because of what the children didn`t get all the care they needed. Dr. Loredan applied to the government many times that the managership of UKC must resign, because they couldn´t put things in order and the youngest patients were deprived for appropiate medical care. A minister for health Milenka Kolar Celarič was also summoned many times to resign, but she had a support from premier and things just kept the same. According to public opinion research in special tv show about Child cardiology, broadcasted on Planet tv, called Strong heart, people believe that she is the most responsible that things have come so far.
For two years we´ve heard many excuses for minister of health from premier Cerar, but nothing changed. Untill now. The pressure reached it´s peak and so a premier and minister Kolar Celarič finally summoned a director of UKC mr. Kopač and a professional director mrs. Pfeifer to resign.
But Dr. Loredan says: »In my opinion they did this too late. And saddly not with good intentions for things to change, but it is just a pre-electional gesture, which shows that things are really out of control, and premier is now just trying to maintain some level of chairmanship. Patients shouldn´t be unimportant, because we, the citizens, are the one who finance our health care system.«
Slovenian health care system is mainly financed from standard agreement health care, and that means that money comes mainly from contributions from salaries (social-security contributions), from employees; some of the money is gathered with supplementary agreement health care and some with direct payments. And because the finances are mainly dependent of employees, the systems longterm abstention could be endangered. The population is ageing, which is causing an increase of number of dependent, and that is not a good sign. Otherwise that kind of financing should be fair and accessible for most of the population. But all the affairs and troubles are increasing a public´s mistrust into the health care system.
And money is always a problem when it comes to public health. Because of lack of money, there aren´t enough doctors and nurses in hospitals, so people must wait for medical examination for long time; there is an old equipment which isn´t working well and always a problem with resources for maintenance and renovations, which are very much needed in hospitals all over Slovenia.
Finances are the main reason why we don´t have a milk bank too. Way back in year 2011 a Maternity hospital of Ljubljana gathered some equipment to establih first milk bank. They did it with donations, when Spar Slovenia donated a machine for pasteurization of human milk and analysator, which should be enough to start a milk bank. But they couldn´t renovate electric and plumbing installation at that time, because of the lack of money. After they managed that and get donated some other machines too, they now still need some equipment, like special refrigerator, freezer and a computer with special programme. Dr. Andereja Domjan Arnšek, a specialist of paediatrics in Maternity hospital of Ljubljana and specialist for IBCLC, and the main initiatrix for establishing first milk bank said: »We are not very satisfied with the progress.« She explaines that there were already two notices for gathering that equipment which were both voided. And that means that with each they lost on six months or more. And because of that kind of bureaucratic complications it is very hard to announce the time of openning of a milk bank. But Dr. Domjan Arnšek and her staff aren´t loosing faith and will, and will keep trying, beacause they believe that milk bank is very much needed in this country. They called the breast milk »the white gold«. Human breast milk is one of the most important resources, which can, globally speaking, prevent over 800.000 childrens deaths, who are younger than five years. No other vaccine or medicine has such power of keeping lives like this valuable liquid.