Gabriela Alcheva, Filip Gerovski, Leo Beletsky

Health and Human Rights 2013, 15/2

Abstract

Background: Since its formation after the breakup of Yugoslavia, Macedonia has made major strides in formulating a framework for protecting patient rights through extensive legal reform. The impact of this reform had not been assessed before the work of this project.

Methods/Objectives: Within the context of a larger project on improving human rights in patient care, this paper provides an overview of patients’ rights legislation in Macedonia and uses research, case reports, and other empirical information to highlight the gaps in the implementation of patient rights’ legislation on the ground.

Results: The Law on the Protection of Patients’ Rights (2008) and attendant legislation governing health care provision and other aspects of the social contract in Macedonia provide extensive protections for the rights of patients in such domains as the right to access health care, the right to information, and the right to remedy. This legislation also outlines several new procedural channels to enable patients to vindicate their rights within institutional and governmental structures on the local and national levels. Data from a number of studies and case file reviews suggest, however, that the implementation of many key provisions is lacking, both in terms of quality and presence of services or mechanisms contemplated by Macedonian law. Gaps in implementation disproportionately affect vulnerable and marginalized groups, including women, rural residents, and Roma.

Discussion: Although the letter of Macedonian law generally complies with international best practices in patients’ rights, these rights are not fully implemented and the mechanisms implied are not fully functional. Additional investment must be made in monitoring systems, education, and incentive mechanisms to ensure effective implementation, including the formation of a mandated commission for the protection of patients’ rights.

 
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