14 Mar 2018

Romania finally seeks global aid to solve a health crisis

Romania is asking for international aid for medicine to treat autoimmune and neurological diseases. The country has lacked proper treatment for these illnesses since August 2017.

Delia Budurca
Delia Budurca NewsMavens, Romania
Source: Agerpres

Romania finally seeks global aid to solve
 a health crisis

 - NewsMavens
Stethoscope. Wikicommons

Why this story matters:

It took seven months of messages and protests from patients for Romanian authorities to admit they need the European Union's help to acquire life-saving medicine known as immunoglobulin.

This shouldn't come as a surprise: Romanian authorities have been slow to recognize when they can no longer manage a situation. A similar delay happened when the state found itself in a vaccine crisis last year.

Also, when the 2015 Colectiv nightclub fire killed 64 people and injured 147, it took a week for the Romanian authorities to recognize they needed international help to treat such a large number of patients.

Hundreds of patients diagnosed with primary immunodeficiency are now at risk of dying because of the immunoglobulin shortage in hospitals.

Romania's foot-dragging puts lives in danger. The Ministry of Health needs to sharpen its ability to assess resources and reach out for help within hours or days -- not weeks or months -- when it finds itself overwhelmed with a crisis.


Details from the story:

  • Immunoglobulin is derived from human blood plasma and contains antibodies that protect the body from disease.
  • The World Health Organization included immunoglobulin in a list of essential treatments that no country should be without.
  • The crisis in Romania began when the government failed to convince distributors and manufacturers to bring this type of medicine to the Romanian market.
  • In August 2017, the last two companies that imported immunoglobulins to Romania filed a withdrawal notice due to low prices imposed by the state.
  • In November 2017, dozens of parents and children protested in front of the Ministry of Health.
  • On March 6, Health Minister Sorina Pintea triggered the European Civil Protection Mechanism to get immunoglobulin from other nations.
  • On March 12, Pintea said 10,000 doses of immunoglobulin will arrive from Austria in less than 2 weeks. She said the United States and Italy have agreed to send 100 kg of immunoglobulin.
  • According to the Ministry of Health, Romania needs 5,000 immunoglobulin vials each month.
  • Each dose costs about 100 euros but is 100 percent reimbursed in Romania. 

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