RIGA, April 30 (Xinhua) -- The World Health Organization's (WHO) representative Tamas Evetovits, who visited Latvia on Tuesday, called on the Baltic country to provide all patients with equal access to healthcare services, local media informed.
Evetovits, who heads WHO Barcelona Office for Health Systems Strengthening, paid the visit to learn about Latvia's health system and discuss possible improvements with Latvian health officials and lawmakers.
The main conclusion drawn by the WHO representative about the Latvian health system was that "the patients are paying too much from their pockets for healthcare."
He also urged Latvia to increase its health budget to 5 percent of GDP, which he said is possible provided that there is political will. The WHO representative advised Latvia to scrap co-payments charged for healthcare services from retired and chronically ill people and to reduce patients' co-payments for government-funded medicines.
At the same time, the WHO representative praised Latvian Health Minister Ilze Vinkele's plan to abolish the healthcare financing system where the full range of services is only available to socially insured patients, saying that the system approved by Latvia's previous government and dividing healthcare services into two baskets would only increase inequality.
Latvia's current government has agreed in principle to cancel the two-basket healthcare system which many have criticized as unfair and even dangerous for public health.