The Romanian healthcare system needs big investments, investments that have not happened in the last 30 years, said Deputy Prime Minister Hunor Kelemen, who also serves as president of the Democratic Alliance of Hungarians in Romania (known by its Hungarian acronym of RMDSZ). His comments came on the back of the tragedy that took place in the Victor Babeș Epidemical Hospital on Monday evening. The oxygen system of a mobile intensive care unit placed in the yard of the hospital stopped due to overpressure, and, as a result, three patients on breathing machines died.
UPDATE: Health Minister Vlad Voiculescu has been fired by the Romanian prime minister over his handling of COVID-19.
It is a very regrettable accident, but it was a technical problem that should not be politicized, Hunor Kelemen said referring to the tragedy. He added that he would not like to comment in more detail on the issue because the results of the investigation into the accident are not being made public. However, the RMDSZ president emphasized that the healthcare system is under increasing pressure.
“This pressure grows day by day, but despite everything, we have been making efforts for a year now to ensure proper conditions in healthcare. In reality, there is a lot of improvisation because no investments have been made in the last 30 years. With poor infrastructure, you can’t perform miracles in three months,” Kelemen said.
The coalition government – consisting of the National Liberal Party (PNL), the alliance of the Save Romania Union (USR) and the Freedom, Unity and Solidarity Party, and RMDSZ – has different opinions about the activities of the former health minister, Vlad Voiculescu, member of the USR–PLUS. According to Hunor Kelemen, the USR–PLUS alliance is partly responsible for the activity of the minister of health, but, naturally, the whole government is responsible for it as well. The president of RMDSZ expects stronger actions and “greater sympathy” from Voiculescu, but he refused to comment on the criticism of USR–PLUS. “I have faith in Vlad Voiculescu and in the way he handles the situation of the healthcare system,” the deputy PM added.
“We discussed it [to keep Voicolescu as the head of the Ministry] on Monday in the coalition. More thoroughly prepared steps are needed, and if a decision cannot be put into practice in five hours, it needs five more days,” Kelemen added, referring to the incident that also happened when the Foişor Hospital in the capital was transformed into a COVID-hospital. The evacuation and relocation of patients hospitalized there triggered a stir in social media, which led to a protest organized in front of the hospital.
According to the deputy prime minister, they are not planning to replace the health minister, but if it comes to this, PM Florin Cîțu will announce it.
Prime Minister Florin Cîțu announced on Wednesday that he has fired Health Minister Vlad Voiculescu after weeks of mounting tensions over how to handle the coronavirus pandemic, potentially endangering the government coalition. The PM appointed Deputy Prime Minister Dan Barna as acting health minister.
At the same time, Cîțu also fired Andreea Moldovan, a state secretary in the Ministry of Health. According to Romanian newspapers, the prime minister wanted to fire Moldovan alone, but Voiculescu insisted on his colleague remaining, so Cîțu fired him as well. The state secretary was dismissed because she published the regulation of the new criteria for quarantining settlements in the Official Gazette without discussing it first with the PM.
Astăzi i-am înaintat domnului președinte Klaus Iohannis documentele de revocare din funcția de ministru al Sănătății a…
“Today, on April 14, I forwarded to President Klaus Iohannis the revocation documents from the position of Minister of Health of Mr. Vlad Voiculescu. Until the appointment of the new minister to lead the Ministry of Health, the interim position will be occupied by Mr. Dan Barna. At the same time, we have decided to dismiss Andreea Moldovan from the position of secretary of state at the Ministry of Health, and the decision will be published in the Official Gazette today,” PM Florin Cîțu announced.
The co-president of the USR-PLUS and Deputy PM Dan Barna had announced on Monday evening, after the coalition meeting, that Voicolescu won’t be fired. The deputy PM also defended Voicolescu on Tuesday evening on public television. According to him, Voicolescu is being attacked because there are some interest groups in the healthcare sector that are beginning to “be disturbed” by him. Barna also added that the healthcare system has been a corrupt system for years, in which some parties are feeling threatened by the minister, so they want to get rid of him.
Title image: According to Kelemen Hunor, the whole government is responsible for the healthcare system. Photo: Kelemen Hunor Facebook Page