Romania’s health minister resigns amid hospital disinfectants scandal

Romania’s health minister Patriciu Achimas-Cadariu decided to resign on Monday, May 9, after a talk with Prime Minister Dacian Ciolos.

Achimas-Cadariu took this decision because he didn’t agree with the way the Government decided to manage the hospital disinfectants crisis, according to governmental sources cited by local Mediafax.

Prime Minister Dacian Ciolos accepted his resignation, and announced he would coordinate the Health Ministry’s activity himself, until this crisis is solved, the Government announced. President Klaus Iohannis accepted the Prime Minister’s solution.

Ciolos established a work group to elaborate a tactical plan for the healthcare system, which includes specialists from the public healhcare system, researchers, professors, experts and consultants. The group’s task is to elaborate short and medium term measures to increase the safety in the public medical sector and to come up with strategic reform proposals.

An investigation conducted by a group of journalists from sports newspaper Gazeta Sporturilor revealed in early May that hundreds of hospitals in Romania have been purchasing overpriced highly diluted disinfectants from a local firm for years, putting the patients’ safety at risk.

The disinfectants sold by local company Hexi Farma were found to have concentrations up to ten times lower compared to those mentioned on the labels. Thus, they were more ineffective in killing germs and were posing infection risks for patients treated in the hospitals that used them.

Health minister Patriciu Achimas-Cadariu announced soon after that less than 5% of the samples taken from public healthcare units in Romania to check the efficiency of the disinfectants have come out nonconforming.

The next day, however, the situation took a new turn after Bogdan Tanase, the president of the Doctors’ Alliance, said that the patients are not safe in the local public hospitals, despite the Ministry of Health’s assurances that the disinfectants used in hospital units are efficient. The health ministry’s information that the disinfectants are inefficient in only 5% of the cases was not reflecting the reality, he added.

On May 6, the Health Ministry released the list of hospitals that have been using inefficient disinfectants. The list comprises 50 hospitals, out of a total of 290 that had been verified, including Bucharest’s two biggest emergency hospitals, the Floreasca Emergency Hospital and the University Emergency Hospital.

On Saturday, May 7, Prime Minister Dacian Ciolos publicly requested the Ministry of Health to start and administrative investigation in this case, alongside the criminal investigation carried out by the General Prosecutor’s Office.

Patriciu Achimas-Cadariu’s resignation is the fourth change in the Government of technocrats led by Dacian Ciolos in less than a month. Ana Costea resigned from the position of labor minister in mid-April this year, after controversies on the new law on wages in the public sector. Dragos Pislaru is the new labor minister.

The second change came just ten days later when the European funds minister Ana Raducu also handed in her resignationPrime Minister Dacian Ciolos nominated Cristian Ghinea, his European affairs state counselor, for the EU funds minister position.

Then, came culture minister Vlad Alexandrescu’s resignation after a long scandal at the Bucharest National Opera, which has had a strong echo in the country and abroad. Corina Suteu took over this position.

Irina Popescu, [email protected]

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