Latvija in brief - 2005-01-06

  • 2005-01-06
Latvia was shown as having the second most number of hospitals in the Baltics last year, although the planned healthcare reform has proposed to reduce this. Health Ministry statistics show that there are 111 hospitals in Latvia, 193 in Lithuania and only 15 hospitals in Estonia where the reform has already taken place. By the number of doctors, Latvia, with 6,600 specialists, ranks second among the Baltic states. Lithuania holds first place with 13,700 medics and Estonia is third with 4,200 doctors. Latvia plans to follow Estonia's example and reform its healthcare system according to the so-called master plan, which will more than halve the number of hospitals during the next six years.

Unsatisfied with available job offers, former Education Minister Juris Radzevics has registered himself as unemployed. He could receive up to 985 lats (1,400 euros) of benefits in the first three months, reported the Diena daily. "As I did not have any appropriate job offers, I decided to make use of opportunities offered by the state social insurance," said Radzevics. In the former minister's case, the unemployment benefit - based on the period when social insurance contributions for the person were made - should come to 55 percent of this salary. The gross ministerial salary is 1,792 lats a month. Radzevics could not yet say how long he would be living on welfare. Though a licensed lawyer, the ex-minister said he was not prepared to start practicing since he needed to update his knowledge on the latest changes in legislation.

An 11-year-old girl who was shot in the head during Riga's New Year's Eve celebration is still unconscious and in serious but stable condition, said doctors. The girl has been placed in the intensive care unit of Riga's Clinical Pediatric Hospital. Doctors are not yet prepared to say when her health condition could improve. The shooting was most likely an accident, happening shortly after midnight when the girl and her parents were watching fireworks in the crowded street. Police have not yet identified the owner of the gun, and the only thing known about the weapon is that it was foreign-made. "So far we have no information about this case that should be made public," national police spokesman Aigars Berzins said on Jan. 3.

Firefighting and Rescue Service head Aivars Straume has said the current system for taking action in crisis situations is insufficient. He said work is hindered by an inefficient bureaucracy. For instance, too many approvals are needed in order to make a decision, which slows down reaction time. Also, the current legal system allows the interior minister to coordinate the civil defense system and give orders to other ministries in a crisis situation. This, said Straume, is unacceptable, and these responsibilities should be given to the prime minister. Kalvitis said discussions on improving the civil defense system should be held in the future.