It is necessary to preserve the Igalo Dr. Simo Milošević Institute, and to find the most sustainable and profitable business model for it. The experience and trust that this health institution has not only on the domestic market, but also on the highly developed European market (Norway, the Netherlands, Sweden, Denmark…), along with its professional staff, represents its greatest value, on which the development and future of the health care institution should be based.
This was ordered from the session of the Health Tourism Coordination Board of the Chamber of Commerce of Montenegro, during which the Draft Law on Health Care was discussed.
– The Igalo Institute is in an extremely difficult situation. It is an institution with 73 years of enviable tradition, which is the carrier of the health tourism development program and is listed as such in the Smart Specialization Strategy. I think we should send a clear message that this institution should survive in the true sense and form – said the president of the Coordination Board, Marina Delić.
Director General of the Directorate for Projects (IPA), Innovations, Health Tourism in the Ministry of Health, Luka Đukanović, said that the problem of the Institute in Igalo is a very complex issue considering the size of the debt and the neglect of the facility.
– It is a very important institution and we must do everything in our power to get it back on track. The institute is burdened with a large debt between 20 and 40 million EUR, redundant employees, and significant investments in infrastructure are also needed. The ownership structure (in which there is also a private owner) limits the action of the state in terms of protecting competitiveness. Reorganization and restructuring of the company is needed, as well as a change in the ownership structure in order to bring the Institute into sustainable business – said Đukanović.
The text of the Bill on Health Care is a prerequisite for the creation of a good business environment that will enable the unhindered development of health tourism. The field of health tourism has received a normative arrangement with this bill, and the planned adoption of the by-law will prescribe the division of health tourism activities, that is, the forms of health tourism services will be specified.
As health tourism is defined for the first time in the law, the Coordination Committee is of the opinion that it should be taken into account that it includes both medical and non-medical tourism (i.e. spa and wellness), which the legislator agreed with, stating that you have already entered these categories in the updated text of this act. Also, the representatives of the Ministry of Health informed the Coordination Committee that the paragraph on the prohibition of advertising of health tourism services was removed from the text, stressing the agreement that preventing promotion in this segment would represent a kind of business barrier.
President Delić is of the opinion that the law must clearly specify the glossary of health tourism, while Rada Janjić from the Institute for Standardization is of the opinion that standards should be used in which all terms are adequately defined.
The representative of the Ministry of Health, Luka Đukanović, pointed out that over 50 million EUR was invested in the health system last year and 24 projects were launched within the capital budget.
– We are working hard to improve the system and provide better conditions for our patients – he said.
He also pointed out that they are aware of the importance of standards, especially when it comes to wellness tourism, and that they will soon work on drafting a by-law in this area.
According to him, the current law still does not recognize the international standardization of health institutions, so the Ministry reacted accordingly and a pilot project for the accreditation of health centers in Podgorica and Kotor is underway.
– I hope that this pilot project will be extended to other health centers so that they too will receive accreditation, and we are currently working on securing the budget for that activity – said Đukanović.
He also stated that through spatial planning, they want to limit certain areas only for health tourism where there are natural potentials, so that there would be no hotels in that place that are not for this purpose.
The representative of the Ministry of Economic Development and Tourism, Marjan Milačić, assessed that the normative recognition of this type of tourist offer creates the prerequisites for leaving the framework of its seasonal character, diversifying the offer and encouraging non-boarding consumption.
– Through the income from health tourism, we will have the opportunity to improve the entire health system and increase the personal income of employees – he said, adding that in the past travel agencies were forced to cancel arrangements, because they did not have an adequate offer for health tourism.
According to him, a large number of health facilities are in the gray zone, and the intention of this ministry is to regulate this area in an appropriate way.
– It is necessary to create a normative environment in the way that developed countries have done it – he pointed out, adding that as a ministry they are ready for interdepartmental cooperation with the economy on this issue.
Mladen Filipović from Poliklinika Filipović emphasized the potential of Montenegro for the development of health tourism, especially apostrophizing the advantages of Ulcinj, Igalo, Skadar Lake, but he also spoke about the challenges that need to be overcome in development, among which he particularly emphasized the lack of staff and the impossibility of hiring them from abroad in accordance with the preferences of guest-patients.
Jelena Nikčević from the Health and Sanitary Inspection pointed out that there must be precisely defined provisions in the Law so that the inspectors could act in an adequate manner.
– There are numerous institutions that deal with anti-aging non-surgical methods of head and neck medicine, but there are still no regulations in that area – said Nikčević, adding that they were informed that they will soon be passed in order to contribute to higher quality inspections.
Jelena Bulajić from the Dental Chamber believes that the Law should not limit this area in terms of health tourism to prosthetic and orthodontic services.
During the session, among other things, it was stated that, since the domestic population also uses services in health tourism, it is necessary to consider deleting or modifying the position “Health tourism services do not fall under the burden of mandatory health insurance”.
– In this way, are we making it impossible for the Social Insurance Institution to pay rehabilitation services to the citizens of Montenegro at the Igalo Institute? We believe that it is not necessary to specify the method of payment in the law, because everything is defined by special acts of the FZZO – concludes the Coordination Board.
The coordination board draws attention to the fact that the ministry responsible for tourism is responsible for controlling the fulfillment of standards in terms of space, equipment, staff and services for spa & wellness centers. If the facility meets the required standards, in that case it can receive Spa&Wellness specialization.
The services that are provided and represent health services should be under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Health is one of the conclusions of the KO for health tourism.