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The desperate call of Moldovan doctors and the reasons why medical system can’t resist for too long

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The first medical employee from the Republic of Moldova, Ecaterina Litvinschi – a 79-year-old woman who died because of coronavirus – was buried these days. The woman worked as a medical emergency doctor at at a National Center for Emergency Medicine for about 35 years. According to her relatives’ declarations, she was buried on the edge of a Chisinau cemetery, in a special area where those contaminated with coronavirus were expected to be buried:

sector 277, tomb no. 1

“Historically, those who end their days by suicide were buried on the far side or outside the cemetery. Is that an “honour” attached to a hero doctor?” wondered a relative of the deceased doctor.

Also, the relatives of the medical emergency doctor mentioned that the hospital administration, where the victim was previously hospitalised, insisted to not disclose the fact that Ecaterina was infected being on call to an already infected person, without special equipment and without being warned by the emergency service 112.

Not enough protective measures for medical staff

Out of the currently confirmed 298 cases of infections with COVID-19, 60 are medical workers, according to the information provided by the Ministry of Health, Labour and Social Protection. Moreover, until two days ago, authorities refused to present information on cases of COVID-19 infection among medical workers, giving assurances that doctors have protective equipment and urging journalists not to seek sensations.

The National Ombudsman Mihail Cotorobai made a request addressed to Prime Minister Ion Chicu, in which he informed about the intention of a high number of doctors to submit letter of resignation due to the lack of the protective equipment, which would provide safe working conditions to the medical personnel.

Mihail Cotorobai asked to urgently identify additional funds to ensure protective measures against COVID-19 contagion, both at the level of hospital medical institutions and at the level of primary health care centres. “The recommended measures are imperative both to ensure the patients’ right to high-quality medical services, as well as to ensure safety of the employees of the health system who are put at major risk of contagion due to non-working conditions,” the Ombudsman said.

Currently, six medical institutions in the country are being involved in the treatment of coronavirus patients. Next week other district and municipal medical institutions will be delegated to hospitalise infected patients. The authorities announced that a triage centre is prepared to be organised at the Moldexpo Exhibition Center. By Wednesday, it will be fully equipped, including with 700 beds.

“The number of confirmed cases is increasing, we reiterate the call to citizens to be very cautious. We are sure that if we follow the rules, we will not allow a jump in coronavirus cases and we will have the capacity to handle the situation. This gloomy scenario can be avoided if we are supportive. It is clear that we will overcome this situation, and the authorities and citizens will make the necessary efforts,” stated the prime minister during a press conference.

The announcement of the prime minister sounded optimistic. More and more desperate calls appear online though, being posted by journalists, politicians, artists, regarding the precarious situation in the medical institutions of the Republic of Moldova. Most of them are made anonymously, as medical workers fear to lose their jobs.

The member of the Parliament Radu Marian posted on social media, on March 28, a message sent to him by a person whose mother works as a nurse at the municipal hospital in Balti (one of the hospitals involved in the treatment of coronavirus patients).

“My mother is scared to go to work. She receives one mask for 24 hours and 2 pairs of gloves without other equipment. They write something else on the paper. It’s like fighting on a battlefield without any weapons. […] I wrote to you as a child who is afraid of losing his mother because of the incompetence of the authorities and because of the situation in the hospitals of Moldova,” is said in the message.

According to the data presented by the authorities, during this weekend, there were reported the most cases of infection per day since the beginning of the epidemic in Moldova.

Not enough resources

Doctor in medical sciences, specialist in Intensive Care, Tihon Moraru called on the authorities to take urgent measures on acquiring the necessary equipment for managing the patients in need for intensive care. He mentioned that in order to be able to provide the necessary treatment to 50-100 critical patients, there is a need of at least 30 to 40 high performance mechanical ventilators, produced in the USA, Germany or Japan.

“I am afraid that we are late by 3-4 weeks, it will be very difficult for the equipment to be brought to the country. This can only be achieved by the authorities of our country and as quickly as possible. […] I believe that the maximum number of hospitalisations for the serious and critical patients will be between the middle of April and the beginning of May, which is why this devices of vital necessity must be brought to the country as urgently as possible. […] They are very necessary for the intensive care units of the country, especially those of the district hospitals of the country, where these devices are outdated,” specified Tihon Moraru.

The Moldovan authorities announced that 200 thousand protective screens and 500 filter masks were purchased in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic. However, the purchased protective screens represent only 10% of the announced necessary quantity, while the acquired amount of filter masks cover 25% of the health system current needs, reported ZdG.

Being contacted by ZdG, the manager of the company responsible for acquiring the protective goods said that, at the moment, the company does not have the products in stock, while importing them from China is a complicated procedure that will surely result in delivery delays, given the pandemic conditions.

Not enough tested persons

Another 32 people were lastly confirmed as being infected with the new type of coronavirus, after 246 samples were processed in the laboratory of the National Agency for Public Health, announced the sanatateinfo.md portal. That amounts a total of 5 324 persons who were tested, including family doctors and mayors. Given the exponential growth rate of the contagion demonstrated in other countries, the number of tested persons in the Republic of Moldova can be concluded as being way too low.

Enough Government assurances that “all is kept under control”

For purchasing 200 000 protective screens and 500 000 filter masks, the Government of the Republic of Moldova approved the allocation of 36 million lei from the reserve fund. “It is a measure to ensure protective equipment for the next period. We have enough equipment, but we are preparing for the second half of April and May,” said Prime Minister Ion Chicu.

At the same time, some district hospitals already have taken decisions of replacing at least a part of their old equipment using their institution budget or by applying to international funds and calling for foreign governments’ donations of protective goods, disinfectants, tests, etc.

Photo: Facebook| Ala Nemerenco

Politics

The Romanian MEPs’ criticism – chances are that Moldova won’t receive another disbursement in the EU macro-financial assistance

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In the context of the pandemic crisis and the discussions regarding a new disbursement in the EU macro-financial assistance, the activity of the Moldovan authorities provoked a new wave of criticism from some members of the European Parliament (MEP).

The MEP and Rapporteur for the Republic of Moldova, Dragos Tudorache, criticized the recent activity of President Igor Dodon and Prime Minister Ion Chicu, stating that both are not doing enough for the Republic of Moldova to follow its European path, while oscillating between Brussels and Moscow.

“Many of us in Brussels are trying our best to support the interests of the Republic of Moldova, hoping that the promises made for the second disbursement of the macro-financial agreement will be fulfilled by Chisinau authorities. I wrote to the European Commissioners asking them to look for a solution even for a new disbursement. I had discussions with many Moldovan ministers and parliamentary leaders. Everyone assured me that efforts are being made to bring the bills on the conditionality of financial agreement to the Parliament. After the deadlines for their commitments have been missed, President and Prime Minister stated that they do not want these bills to be adopted by Parliament and will ignore even the will of the Parliament where they have a majority,” stated the EU official.

Both Prime Minister Ion Chicu and President Igor Dodon opposed the adoption of the Law on non-profit organisations’ activity, which represents a conditionality imposed by the EU for making a new disbursement in the EU macro-financial assistance.

The most important provisions of the law involve the impossibility of non-profit organisations (NPO) to provide financial support or free services  to candidates during an election campaign. Also, NPOs cannot financially support or provide free services to political parties and socio-political organisations, except the non-profit organisations created by political parties – those may provide free services to political entities in order to strengthen their capacities.

The bill was adopted by the Government of Moldova in 2018, being voted by the Parliament at first reading. However, it didn’t go any further. “Everyone insists on adopting the bill, because it is clearly written that NPOs can provide services to political parties and receive funding from abroad. This means that someone from abroad can found a NPO, for which millions of euros are given, and start political activity here. This basically means interference in the politics of the Republic of Moldova. We are turning into a primitive republic, run by NPOs? Why do we need Parliament, Government, Presidency then?” speculated Igor Dodon.

The opposition claimed there is another reason why socialists don’t want this bill voted. “Some political parties created foundations to receive dubious financial support through them. Under this law, NPOs will not be able to provide political support for political parties, either for a fee or free of charge, during election campaigns. That is the whole problem Dodon has,” said  the opposition MP Dinu Plangau.

See also: Promo-LEX estimates: 19,02 million lei as failed expenses to be reported to the Central Electoral Commission by the political parties in 2019

The member of the European Parliament Siegfried Muresan believes that the current Government led by Ion Chicu will no longer be able to obtain a disbursement as a part of the macro-financial support granted by the European Union. According to him, this missed chance would be a great failure, affecting the citizens of the Republic of Moldova who no longer can take advantage of these resources.

A few weeks ago, the Romanian MEP criticized the Government of Moldova, claiming that the country is lagging behind in terms of implementing reforms. “The Government failed to manage the COVID-19 crisis, as it also failed to implement reforms,” Muresan said. The EU official also mentioned that the report published by the European Parliamentary Research Service on the implementation of the EU Association Agreement and the Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area (DCFTA) with the Republic of Moldova described the same social and political issues as 5 years ago.

“Political instability, frequent government changes and recent political events have significantly contributed to slowing down the pace of implementation of reforms. In addition, a number of events have led to a deterioration of democratic standards and the rule of law, according to the European Parliament’s report. All those reforms demanded by the EU would have strengthened the institutions of the Republic of Moldova, would have reduced corruption and incompetence in the institutions, and Moldova would have been better prepared to defend its citizens against the COVID-19 crisis,” the MEP mentioned.

Prime Minister Ion Chicu overreacted making a scandalous statement on social media:“The opinion of our citizens about the activity of the Government and the criticism of Moldovans matters to us. The concerted attacks of some figures, with pretensions of Moldovan lawyers, can only impress their patrons,” replied Chicu.

Source: AFP

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Reintegration

Coronavirus in Transnistria: blocked roads, self-isolation, restricted access to banking services and medicines are still on

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The state of emergency in Transnistria was declared on March 17, being extended twice. The last decision said it would last until June 15INFOTAG News Agency informed.

About 2 weeks ago, some restrictions began to be lifted in the region – shopping malls, construction markets and grocery stores were reopened. Thus, a record number of COVID-19 reported cases followed, the total number of confirmed cases reaching 1003, according to the data provided by the Ministry of Health, Labour and Social Protection of Moldova (MHLSP).

One of the biggest contagion epicentres is located at the psycho-neurological boarding school from Bender – more than 160 people were infected there.

No transport available

In the context of the pandemic crisis, an imperative transportation problem was discussed by the Moldovan and Transnistrian officials: the residents of 4 villages from the left bank of the Dniester have to use a ferry in order to reach the other side. That is because the road, connecting the rural areas with the mainland Moldova, runs through a Transnistrian territory that has been blocked by illegal border checkpoints and barriers installed by separatists.

See also: A not working peacekeeping mechanism? When the Moldovan side requests, the Transnistrian one refuses

“A separate topic of discussion was the situation of the Moldovan villages of Molovata Noua, Vasilievca, Cocieri and Roghi on the left (eastern) bank of the Dniester River. They have found themselves isolated from the Republic of Moldova after the Transnistrian authorities introduced a state of emergency in the region,” announced President Igor Dodon after he lately met with the head of Dubasari district, Grigore Filipov.

It was decided that the ferry will make additional daily trips to meet the needs of the population and economic agents from the region, as a temporary solution.

Moldova’s Special Representative for Transnistria negotiations, Deputy Prime Minister for Reintegration, Cristina Lesnic, believes that the nature of the dialog between Chisinau and Tiraspol has changed during the pandemic period.

“After the beginning of the pandemic crisis and the state of emergency declaration in Moldova, the region was isolated. The Moldovan authorities’ decisions should apply to the entire territory, but Transnistria has adopted its own measures. […] The self-isolation of the Transnistrian region on the pretext of the pandemic began in mid-April, and now it is extended till June 15. The situation is connected to a restricted access both for the economic agents and officials from Moldova. Let me remind you that there are 320 thousand Moldovans living in the region, who are deprived of access to services on the right bank of the Dniester.”

In a meeting with foreign diplomats and international organisation representatives accredited in Moldova, Cristina Lesnic talked about the  anti-crisis management possibilities created for businesses and the population of Transnistria since the beginning of the state of emergency, including facilitating the import of medicines and foodstuffs into the Transnistrian region, as well as returning home of Transnistrian residents from foreign countries.

Source: gov.md

On the other hand, more accusations against Moldovan authorities arrived, referring to the fact that the Deputy Prime Minister for Reintegration would not be willing to help to repatriate the inhabitants of the separatist region. That is while the legal public authorities of Moldova are the only ones entitled to negotiate the organisation of international passenger transport with the authorities of foreign states, according to the Bureau for Reintegration Policies from Moldova.

No banking services

Another issue discussed during the common meetings is the access of the population of Transnistria to banking services: in case people from the region are clients of a Moldovan or international bank, they can’t withdraw money from the ATMs located on the Transnistrian territory, as well as they can’t use their credit cards to pay products and services in Transnistrian rubles.

While Transnistrian news portals blamed the Moldovan authorities of blocking the possibility to pay using international card on the Transnistrian territory, officials from Chisinau gave assurances that no discriminatory or exaggerated approaches are applied to the bank customers from the Transnistrian region. The National Bank of Moldova specified that payments using MasterCard and Visa cards in Transnistria are possible, but only if payments are made through the POS terminals of banks licensed in Moldova. As the local currency (Transnistrian rubles) is not internationally recognised, it was proposed to use the Moldovan leu as a mean of cash payment.

(Almost) no financial support

About 450 individual entrepreneurs from Dubasari district will receive financial compensation from the Transnistrian authorities, in order to overcome the negative consequences of the pandemic crisis. The total budget for compensation amounts 182 500 Transnistrian rubles (about 10 140 euros). When divided to 450 companies that should receive financial support, it turns out that each company will receive about 23 euros for two months in which they stopped their activity.

Photo: BIRN

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Society

Lifting coronavirus restrictions in Moldova – risks and future costs

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Another 153 new cases of infection with the novel coronavirus were confirmed today in the Republic of Moldova, informed the Minister of Health, Labour and Social Protection (MHLSP). Altogether, the number of infected persons reached 8 251 cases since the beginning of the pandemic.

In the last week, there was a decrease in the number of confirmed cases by 11%, according to the specialists from the National Public Health Agency (NPHA). At the same time, the number of recovered cases increased by 5% as compared to the week before. Still, the cumulative incidence of cases reported in Moldova, when compared to other states, increased to 2 224 cases per one million population (21 out of 46 countries, according to statista.com), while the death rate increased from 67 deaths per one million population to 80 deaths per one million population.

While most of these numbers are interpreted positively by the Moldovan authorities, there are still restrictions on which the pandemic evolution depends. In case they are lifted to soon, the next wave of infection cases could begin. If they are kept for too long, a lot of businesses and family budgets would suffer. Therefore, a lot of future risks and costs depend on the next steps taken by officials.

Unbalanced restrictions’ lifting

The last decision of the National Extraordinary Public Health Commission lifted certain restrictions imposed during the state of emergency in the country. For example, it was decided to open all open-air markets in the country, including the ones from big cities (Chisinau and Balti) starting June 1, relaunch the activity of the shopping centres, except for restaurants and entertainment units located inside – June 8, allow religious ceremonies, including meetings in public places for celebrating important religious holidays – June 5. Starting June 15, gyms and restaurant units will be reopened as well.

On the other hand, the Government of the Republic of Moldova decided to cancel this year high school graduation exams. “Given the exceptional circumstances, it was necessary to adopt some measures aimed at reducing the risk of contagion of middle school and high school graduates and teachers. The organisation of graduation exams involves a series of indoor activities and a large number of persons (high school graduation exams – about 40 000 people, the Baccalaureate exams about 20 000 people), which increases the risk of infection, even though the necessary protection measures would be followed,” said the Ministry of Education, Culture and Research (MECR).

The Parliament approved, on 21 May, a draft law on the cancellation of national graduation exams of the 2020 examination session.

Not everyone agreed with the taken decisions though. “As the markets open, where the congestion is very high, as the supermarkets worked during severe quarantine, in the same way, examinations could have been carried out with all the restrictions imposed to avoid the spread of the new type of coronavirus,” declared former Minister of Education, Corina Fusu, for ZdG.

“Many decisions on restrictions’ lifting have no logic. One of them would be the reopening of gyms with no access to the bathrooms or locker rooms. […] Strategies were lacking in Moldova. Instead, we enjoyed daily statistics, not well-determined actions. We have paid for it, both with the health and lives of people, as well as with a downgraded economy, “ said the WHO expert and former Minister of Health, Ala Nemerenco. The former dignitary argued that Moldova is way behind other European countries when it comes to the pandemic evolution, however the restrictions are lifted at the same time.

“The number of new cases, the serious or critical cases is still very high. At the same time, the number of deaths is high. In other European countries people are more educated in this regard. They know what shift work means and what sanitary hygiene means. Our people still don’t know anything about this. I still argue that the Rahmanish Easter (religious holiday postponed for the beginning of June in Moldova) should be cancelled. I am also against the markets’ reopening,” head of the NPHA, Nicolae Furtuna, claimed for ZdG.

Restrictions are not for everyone

The opposition MP, Sergiu Litvinenco, filed a complaint with the Ministry of Internal Affairs, to fine President Igor Dodon because he didn’t comply with the rules imposed during the pandemic period. First, the president expressed a superficial and uninformed opinion regarding the novel coronavirus, saying it is not more than a flu that affects merely older people.

Moreover, Dodon recently posted several photos and videos on social media where it can be observed that meetings with local public authorities, economic agents, citizens, including older people and children, were conducted without wearing a protective mask and  keeping social distance, especially indoors.

“The law is the same for everyone and must be equally applied. Igor Dodon must be punished for the obvious violation of the mandatory rules on prevention and control measures of epidemic diseases!”

Nevertheless, Minister of Internal Affairs, Pavel Voicu, declared that no deviation from rules were found. “We did not fine him because he has immunity. We have not seen any deviations from the Commission’s provisions so far,” he said.

COVID-19 is still here

Speaker of the Parliament, Zinaida Greceanii, signed a provision regarding self-isolation regime establishment for all members of the Parliament from May 22, as several persons in the legislature, including a MP, were tested positive for coronavirus previously.  All members and staff of the Parliament were tested and were asked to stay at home until the confirmation of negative results for COVID -19, as it was announced in a press release of the Moldovan Parliament.

Meanwhile, 1602 cases of infection (19,41% of total cases) have been confirmed among healthcare system employees, including 380 doctors, 20 pharmacists, 630 nurses, 84 janitors and 488 support staff.

The authorities desire to relaunch the economy of the country is understandable, as well as the opposition and experts’ reluctance regarding the speed and relevancy of restrictions’ lifting. However, taking into consideration the relatively low level of informing the population on how to correctly exit the restrictions’ period and the lack of a consistent strategy of authorities on how and when to reopen various activities, the future costs of the already taken decisions could be really painful.

Photo: Dreamstime.com

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