Remarks by Ambassador Donald Lu at the “Final Report of the Survey of Albanian Health Centers” Event

Minister Beqaj, ladies and gentlemen, good morning.

I hope none of you get seriously sick.  Many years ago when I was a Peace Corps volunteer, I had typhoid fever and malaria at the same time.  I lost 20 kilos.  I felt terrible.  Fortunately, I was young and I recovered quickly.

I needed a functioning health care system, with the right medicines, with trained medical professionals and with the modern diagnostic equipment.

The Albanian people deserve the same.  The Coalition for Free and Fair Elections and for Sustainable Democracy conducted this survey of 550 health clinics to see whether these things exist in Albania.

What did they find?

They found that only 57 percent of clinics had appropriate equipment.

Only 54 percent had the correct medicines.

Only 32 percent of domestic violence cases were properly documented.

And only 5 percent of clinics were accessible to the handicapped.

It is impressive that this survey was done with the full support of the Ministry of Health and Minister Beqaj.  They asked for this data to focus their reforms and understand better where changes must be made.

In a democracy, NGOs like the Coalition play a vital role in monitoring the performance of government.  Their analysis and information makes it possible for the people of Albania to demand the right services from their government.

We hope the Coalition, with the support of USAID and other donors, will be able to conduct other surveys of government services, including in the areas of social services, education and taxation.

But now it is up to Minister Beqaj and his team to translate these health clinic statistics into real changes and reform for the health of the people of Albania.

Congratulations on completing this survey and good luck with the conference.