Estonian health minister: Only vaccination can save hospitals from overload

  • 2021-09-08
  • BNS/TBT Staff

TALLINN - Vaccination is the only way to prevent overload in hospitals, Minister of Health and Labor Tanel Kiik, who spoke at the fall conference of the Estonian Hospitals Association in Viljandi on Wednesday, said.

According to the minister, the COVID-19 crisis has taught cooperation both internationally and between healthcare institutions, medical staffs, research institutions and the private sector. "The work and contribution of healthcare workers and managers has been invaluable, but the pandemic is far from over. Vaccination is essentially the only way to prevent hospital overload, and we need the continued joint effort of all parties to do so," Kiik said.

"I commend all healthcare managers who have contributed to solving this crisis in medical staffs all over Estonia. I would also like to thank the thousands of healthcare professionals who have worked throughout the crisis to treat and control the spread of the virus in order to prevent hospital overcrowding and save lives," the minister said. "Hospitals have played and continue to play an important role in the vaccination of the general population. Vaccination is the only sustainable way to take care of people's lives and health and to prevent overcrowding in hospitals, and for this, we need a joint effort from all parties."

In order to increase the health crisis readiness of hospitals in the hospital network, the Ministry of Social Affairs will invest an additional 12.6 million euros from the European Union's REACT-EU funds until 2023 to create isolation wards with oxygen therapy and improve the continuity of emergency care. The measure is planned to create another 150 beds for COVID-19 patients.

According to Kiik, the most important project in the field of health in this century is the establishment of Tallinn Hospital, or the North Estonia medical campus, which has been talked about for decades and which is indispensable for the Estonian state. The minister emphasized that we need both the contribution of the state and the capital here as well as the financial support of the European Union.

In his speech, Kiik highlighted the lack of specialists and the need to increase the admission of healthcare workers. "There is a shortage of doctors and nurses particularly in rural and sparsely populated areas, but it is not easy in larger centers either. Therefore, increasing the admission of our healthcare professionals is critical," the minister said. "During the negotiations on the European Union funds, we have agreed that we will increase the admission of nurses in higher education by at least five percent by 2023. We need the cooperation and contribution of all hospitals and healthcare institutions in increasing the admission of nurses and reimbursing the costs of internships. At the same time, it makes sense to increase the rights of our nurses, as their role in the healthcare system is growing."

The minister also emphasized the need to move forward with the development of e-health and the development of various e-solutions and the integration of genetic data into everyday medicine. The analysis of the Estonian hospital network and future discussions are underway with the support of an international consulting company. "This process gives us an overview of the changes and developments to be taken into account in the development of the Estonian healthcare system in view of the next few decades," Kiik said. "It is also important to further increase the integration of the healthcare and social sectors and to strengthen cooperation with the primary level."