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The Hungarian public health system is in ruins

The public health system is in ruins in Hungary. Over the past 30 years, we have tried to overcome the same problems that profession, politics, and society are aware of. Other than sporadic local initiatives and short-term projects, not much is happening in this area, and although we know the techniques needed to implement the programs, their implementation at the community level is lagging behind. We are facing a public health crisis because our systems are unprepared for health crises like the coronavirus pandemic.

With these sentences, he opened his lecture in Noun Health Journal of the Tenth National Conference on Infection Control and Patient Safety Zoltan Vokó An epidemiologist who headed the National Institute for Health Development at the start of Orban’s second term, but resigned shortly thereafter as Director General.

The health status of the Hungarian population is unfavorable, and although it has improved in the 15 years since the regime change, it has stagnated since then, we have not been able to close the gap with developed countries, and only a few OECD countries are behind us on average Life expectancy.

While, according to Zoltán Vokó, decision makers recognize these problems and emphasize the importance of public health programs in health policy, we pledge in many documents to improve our indicators and achieve international goals, not much progress has been made in the past three decades.

Let public health be the problem of the “rich and powerful”.

In the wake of the pandemic, the expert said, the profession should break through the wall or find someone to do so. We need to recognize that we shape our societies, that economic norms, beliefs and systems can be changed, and that new social values ​​can be created. To do this, we must now find allies, who reach a critical mass that will also force the decision-makers to take the necessary steps.

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Public health issues should be made a problem for “the economically and politically powerful,” for example, by the fact that the poor health of society takes a heavy financial toll on the country. The expert advised let’s be realistic, but do not be obsessed. Health is only one in the line of social public goods, “health agents” need to take into account the interests of other areas i

We need a radical development concept, as well as achieving a place at the table of major politics. We are still learning how to do this, but there is hope for meaningful action only if, in addition to NGO, media and healthcare actors, we find important people in politics and parties who represent the public health issue, Zoltán Vokó said.

There is a need for multifaceted and coordinated social action, the responsibility and coordination of which rests with public health actors. In view of this, the institutional system and its organization must be changed. At the same time, providing the necessary team of professionals is a challenge, as currently the new legal relationship of the health services does not cover office workers, so already a small number of the population prefers to work next to patients’ beds, where they get much more salaries – the expert noted.


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