ZAGREB, Sept 23 (Croatia Sun News) – The Croatian healthcare system should introduce a free taxi service to ensure transport for low-income cancer sufferers who need chemotherapy because currently the state’s job is done by nongovernmental associations, a round table held on the occasion of European Mobility Week heard earlier this week.
“In March last year we launched a project to take women-cancer patients to chemotherapy by taxi… so far we have supported 180 women who suffer from cancer and are treated in Zagreb hospitals,” said Ivana Kalogjera of the “We Are Not Alone” association.
The purpose of the round table, organised as part of events marking European Mobility Week, was to raise awareness of problems encountered by cancer patients and their need for a taxi service.
Kalogjera said that their users come from different parts of Croatia, they are mostly elderly women, are poor, are single parents or suffer from several medical conditions.
So far, the NGO has raised donations for more than 5,000 free taxi rides, and the average price of a taxi ride is HRK 63 (€8.5) because patients also come from areas around Zagreb.
Kalogjera said that the association had exhausted its own resources and expected the authorities to do something to show they cared about cancer patients.
The system is not organised well because even though ambulance transport is available, it is not available to all patients and sometime patients have to wait for hours to be taken home by ambulance after receiving therapy, Kalogjera said.
The round table was also attended by Dutch Ambassador Rosanne Mulder, who spoke about medical transport in her country, saying that Dutch companies, research institutes and hospitals work together to promote medical care.
Instead of nongovernmental organisations, public health insurance covers the cost of transport to and from hospital for certain types of therapy, such as dialysis and chemotherapy, as well as for disabled people, people with impaired vision and people under the age of 18, she said.
She said that new initiatives were being introduced such as personalised taxi service, in which insurance companies have shown interest, as well as refunding hotel accommodation costs for patients who live far from the place where they receive therapy.
The deputy chair of the Croatian Parliament Health and Social Policy Committee, Ivan Celic, said that media and NGOs should exert pressure to bring about changes and that money for those changes would be found, adding that he believed the Croatian Health Insurance Institute would relatively soon start covering the cost of taxi transport for patients.