There are a record number of patients in hospitals even after a nine-week lockdown. The number of hospitalizations is not decreasing, there are 3,895 patients in hospitals with confirmed or suspected COVID-19 disease. In addition, basic data on patients with confirmed virus are missing and Slovakia is introducing data on the number of newly infected and cured. On the table is the question of whether the Minister of Health Marek Krajčí (OĽaNO) still manages his position.
Martin Smatana, health analyst
A simple question that is surprisingly difficult to find a clear answer to. In the second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, Slovakia ranks among the most affected countries in the world. While in the spring we were an example for other countries, in the second wave we became an experimental laboratory mouse and a warning for other countries. Objectively, many mistakes have been made. We waited unnecessarily for the measures to be tightened, the communication was unfortunate and the company was polarized for no reason.
There is no doubt at all about the very poor management of the pandemic. The question is whether Minister Krajčí is responsible for this. The pandemic is the responsibility of the Central Crisis Staff, headed by the Minister of the Interior, and the government, chaired by the Prime Minister. The Minister of Health is just one of the “entrants” to the whole process. Yes, in terms of content, it is a key article together with the Public Health Office, but it is not a person with a veto. We know from the press conferences that Minister Krajčí repeatedly wanted to tighten measures, did not agree with the release and wanted to introduce a Covid vending machine in the summer.
From this point of view, I would be inclined to stay in the ministry and change other decision-making processes and the people in them. On the other hand, what is the point of a minister who cannot push the necessary measures between his colleagues and in a government where his party has a majority? The role of the Minister is not to write a good idea, but to defend it, conquer it and oversee its implementation. And the prime minister and other members of the crisis staffs will not do this for him.
From this point of view, a change in the Minister of Health is a necessary step. A change of minister would be a signal to the people that there is a new hope for improvement, which we citizens lack as salt. However, I am afraid that if there is a change of minister now, it could have the opposite effect. Why? The minister is as strong as his advisers. If there was a change of minister and advisers remained, the result would be the same for us people. If they, who are the people responsible for all processes at the executive level, also leave, I am afraid that the situation will deteriorate temporarily.
So we are currently in a stalemate and no option is optimal. For me personally, the pandemic should be led by an apolitical crisis manager, not a political nominee of one party or another. However, this requires an overall change in management processes, not a single personnel change in the ministry. Whether Minister Krajčí leaves will not change the fact that he and his colleagues are people politically responsible for thousands of avoidable deaths. They will have to learn to live with this burden, just like all of us who lost a loved one during a pandemic due to their bad decisions.
Andrea Kalavská, former Minister of Health
He does not manage the position of the minister during the pandemic, after the first wave the ministry did not prepare for the arrival of the second wave, it can be said that he almost ignored the preparation. Managing a pandemic is chaotic, poorly communicated, confusing. The recommendations of experts cannot be enforced by the Minister in the government, which had a significant effect before Christmas, and we are seeing the consequences in the number of sick, hospitalized and death numbers now. I can’t answer the question of what he did. The Minister communicates very little with the representatives of the healthcare sector – the main experts, professional societies, his decisions lack expertise and support in the data we lack. His staff exchanges across the entire resort are very controversial. We are the country with the highest number of deaths, which makes me very sorry as a person and I am sorry… What else do we want to wait for?
Tomáš Drucker (Good Choice), former Minister of Health for Smer
Minister of Health Marek Krajčí is in charge. I perceive him as a decent person, who, however, should not have become a minister of health because he does not have the managerial preconditions to perform such a function. This is especially true in the current crisis, when it is necessary to manage the whole society vigorously and systematically. Minister Krajčí reacts too late and thus causes great and unnecessary damage and loss of life. Hospitals are meaningless all red and historically most people die at home because they can’t get health care. The Covid traffic light came months after it was supposed to be introduced, it reacts too late to new forms of the virus, it can enforce practically nothing, and it acts as a statistician. It significantly weakens citizens’ confidence in the authority of a state that is fatally failing and out of control. Minister Krajčí should really offer his position to a more capable manager as soon as possible.
Rudolf Zajac, former Minister of Health for the YES party
He didn’t even have to board. He manages not only a pandemic, but also his ministry as such, because he does not understand the issue of health at all. It’s as if a blind cop had to drive traffic at a complicated intersection. I can’t remember if he succeeded in anything, but he makes serious mistakes in personnel policy, in legislation, in understanding the system.
I consider his biggest political mistake to be that he does not understand the meaning of the word coalition cooperation, even though he is not the only one in the government in this. Put simply, the one who should replace him should be a cross between Einstein and Old Shatterhand. Seriously: there are not many people who know, have courage and also strategic-tactical qualities, all this must have the Minister of Health. I know of one, at most two people who would meet at least two-thirds of the requirements. However, I seriously doubt whether they would embark on this with the government party, although neither Smer nor Hlas are certainly positive.
Dušan Zachar, INEKO analyst
I think that in the current situation, the resignation of the Minister of Health would not solve anything. There will be time to make bills in a calmer atmosphere. It is true that the time of a pandemic requires crisis managers who are determined and, on the other hand, listen to other opinions and at the same time know the company with their good and accurate communication and arguments to reassure and convince of the validity and logic of measures. That didn’t always work out. But it should also be added that among the ministers of the Matovič government, the Minister of Health Marek Krajčí was the one who pushed for tougher anti-epidemic measures and an earlier and tougher lockdown. Sometimes he was left alone with his proposals in the government, and sometimes he did not have the support of the prime minister.
Martin Vlachynský, INESS analyst
Although it is not for us as an economic institute to assess whether someone should resign or not, the positives are hard for me to find. Healthcare delivery is more or less working, despite record numbers of hospitalizations. However, I do not know to what extent it is the merit of the Minister. Overall, however, his work is still disappointing for me. The Ministry communicates worse than in the time of the Direction, many things are happening behind closed doors, whether in the framework of drafting new legislation or in the form of sudden personnel changes. Preparations for the second wave of the pandemic were minimal. Unused space was in the centralization of covid beds, the creation of sufficient supplies of materials and drugs, legislative preparation for the experimental deployment of new drugs, data clutter, chaotic testing strategy, no agreements on mutual assistance from abroad, unresolved administrative steps, such as issuing certificates of overcoming the infection. Unfortunately, the whole health policy continues in a 15-year trend without a clear vision, again dominated by old “directional” topics, such as the effort to minimize competition in the sector, endless debt relief of hospitals or rescue of the General Health Insurance from the money of all policyholders.
Andrea Letanovská (For People), doctor, anesthesiologist:
In my opinion, the Minister is not managing his position, although he has succeeded in finding the courage to replace some high-ranking officials and to break some ties in the Slovak healthcare system. However, he does not have a very lucky hand in selecting new directors. He completely elevated loyalty or value harmony beyond expertise and lidership. There are more things where he made mistakes, in his steps I lack consistency, awareness of the meaning and fulfillment of the goal. Individual measures often change, do not respect experts and, in addition, are not well communicated. So even good steps are taken with resentment and distrust. I think he is subject to various influences and he himself is not completely identified with what he will eventually do. Towards running a pandemic, his voice in government should be much stronger, but I don’t know who should replace him.
Mária Lévyová, head of the Association for the Protection of Patients’ Rights
The situation with the pandemic in Slovakia is deplorable and, unfortunately, exhausting for many of us. In the end, it is not only the paramedics, the parents of the children, the small entrepreneurs, but also the patients. Many of us have been waiting for interventions and examinations for many months and we do not see any prospects for improvement yet. In addition, even in the statements of the Minister of Health in recent days, he should be aware that he can no longer quite cope with the situation. We realize that managing the crisis situation we are in today is not easy at all. However, several mistakes have been made, which we are now paying for. For patients, we must positively evaluate how the Ministry of Health has reflected on our requirements regarding the urgent vaccination of at-risk groups of patients.
Based on our memorandum, which we addressed to the Government of the Slovak Republic, the Minister of Health and the Committee of the National Council for Health, these risk groups were given priority within the vaccination strategy against COVID-19. We were also heard in a full-area testing, where we asked for exemptions from testing for at-risk patients.
We have pointed out on several occasions in the past that the governance of any sector, and health care in particular, requires an open and professional discussion. And several of them have pointed to its absence since the current government took office. In Slovakia, we have a number of skilful, passionate and experienced people who wanted and still want to lend a helping hand in solving the current pandemic situation. It just needs to be used.
The current situation requires a strong manager, a leader who will have under him a team of experienced experts from the ranks of epidemiologists, health professionals, analysts and many others. The question is what the dismissal of the Minister would contribute to. In the neighboring Czech Republic, they changed ministers several times. We cannot evaluate at this time whether this is the way. But we certainly see a solution in the discussion and cooperation with experts who know how to reverse the unfavorable development in Slovakia. We can also be inspired by other countries that are more successful in managing the epidemic than we are. However, apart from the fact that governs our country, it is still the case that it is precisely the responsibility of us humans that costs and falls. Many of us are already tired and annoyed by this whole situation, so vigilance is declining. But until we address the situation in full seriousness, we have no chance of winning this war.
Source: Pravda.sk – Správy by spravy.pravda.sk.
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