How equal and equitable is health care in Serbia?

Belgrade, 22.02.2018.

The goal of the panel discussion, titled "How equal and equitable is health care in Serbia?", organized by FREN and SeConS to mark the 4th edition on the Monitoring Social Situation in Serbia (MONS) web platform, was to present latest data and to open for debate main issues related to health and health care in Serbia.

The panellists,  

Prof. Slobodan Cvejić, PhD, co-editor of the MONS 4 issue and director of research at SeConS,

Prof. Mihail Arandarenko, PhD, co-editor of the MONS 4 issue and Chairman of the FREN Board,

Kori Udovički, PhD, Governing Board member at CEVES, and

Doc. dr Milena Gajić-Stevanović, Head of NHA, Institute of Public Health of Serbia Dr Milan Jovanovic Batut

addressed the public, focusing on several questions: how successful is public health for everyone, how do citizens assess their own health and how effective healthcare in Serbia is.

Recent research has shown that there is an increasing proportion of citizens who, for diverse reasons, did not receive health care although they needed it. On the other hand, it cannot be claimed that the Serbian citizens spare when it comes to health expenditures. In comparison to other European countries, the citizens themselves take relatively more out of their own pocket (almost 40% of total expenditures). The comparison of results achieved by Serbia in health (at the rear of the European countries), with the level of system equipment (in the middle of the range) and the level of annual spending on healthcare (at the top of the European countries), undoubtedly shows that Serbia has an issue with efficient use of resources in healthcare. Data also show that the share of citizens who perceive their health to be bad or very bad in Serbia is twice the share in EU member states (EU 28). The main problem with the bad health status of Serbian citizens and the key falling behind relative to the EU 28 is that deterioration starts fairly early, during active life and increases with age.

The need for healthcare services will have a tendency to grow in the future, which can lead to an additional decline in the quality of services financed by the state, due to limited financial resources and higher demand. However, improving the efficiency of the healthcare system, primarily the public and better utilization of existing resources, could lead to better outcomes with the expenditure remaining the same, even in the short term. In addition to better utilization of medical personnel and medical technology, Serbia should work more on prevention, as this has been proven to be the best investment, contributing to longer life expectancy of the population.