While Latvia is planning to introduce a more “just'' health care reform, which will leave thousands outside the health system, Re:Baltica's research shows that a more fair distribution of financing could improve public health already now. That's not happened for years because of opposition from a few doctors and a business lobby.
Among the Baltic countries Estonia’s media are the healthiest in terms of finances, trust of society, readership and press freedom, concludes the new Re:Baltica research about the state of the media sector in Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania.
Andrejs Ērglis, one of Latvia’s most famous doctors, is from a well known medical family and combines professional talent with personal charm. In his own words, he has raised Latvian interventional heart surgery to a world level. But how can a poor country with one of Europe’s lowest healthcare budgets also be among the world leaders in expensive heart operations using stents, the microscopic structures used to repair damaged arteries? And why, even though it spends so much on such procedures, does Latvia not also lead in reducing the number of premature deaths, with heart disease still the country’s main killer?
Adults are worried that teenagers in Latvia are getting fatter and unhealthier, but at the same time allow the sale of harmful foods in schools. Banning these harmful products from schools would deprive private firms of a significant source of profits.
Latvian government is working on one of the biggest healthcare reforms since the country gained its independence. Healthcare Minister Circene says it will be fairer to tax payers, fight the grey economy and bring more money into the healthcare system. But doctors and the Ombudsman argue that the change will not make people healthier and leave 100,000 uninsured.
Although the number of extremely poor people in Riga has fallen since the worst point of the crisis in 2009, there is still a large number of Rigans in need of social support from local government: 63,000 people, equivalent to 9% of the city's population. Part of that number goes every day to soup kitchens that are either fully- or partly-paid-for by the municipal authorities. The recipients of these hot meals are mainly single pensioners and families on minimal incomes, according to both the statistics and students' observations.
In January 2014 Latvian and U.S. students participated in a joint project at Riga's soup kitchens to try to understand for which groups in the Latvian capital the crisis remains far from over. These clips tell the stories of 31 Rigans.
There have been a number of encounters by the Latvian media with various law enforcement authorities or people using the criminal and civil law to attempt to repress, intimidate or silence reporters, editors and bloggers.
The Estonian minister of justice pushed through a law that in theory permits the imprisonment of journalists who refuse to give up their sources, but the law has never been never used - so far.
The law enforcement attack on the BNS news agency journalists took place 11 years after the Lithuanian Constitutional Court delivered its interpretation of when a journalist must disclose a source of information. But it seems that was still too little time for interpretation to be carried over to the law.