National Pride ‘Mama and I’ is open to collaboration to reduce record infant mortality and combat severe demographic crisis

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Interview with Dr. Velimir Simov, leading specialist in paediatrics at the clinic for maternal and child health ‘Mama and I’

Barely 100 days after opening, ‘Mama and I’ specialists have helped hundreds of children, babies and young mothers across the country – how have you managed to fill the capacity of your newly built clinic so quickly?

The round-the-clock work of all the specialists at ‘Mama and I’ in caring for young patients and their mothers left us no time to make special analyses, but the high expertise, excellent conditions, modern equipment, the uncompromising reception of all severe cases and all patients in need, regardless of the financial, ethnic or educational indicators of the family, did not go unnoticed. Our clinical successes are already receiving recognition from Europe, and we were delighted to welcome our first triplets!

What’s next?

We discussed many different plans with the management and the main investor. For us, children’s healthcare is an absolute national priority and we have a clear vision for the future. Staff development and upskilling in a number of rare paediatric specialties is without alternative and takes precedence over further expansion of the clinic. That is why the national pride ‘Mama and I’ in Pleven is open to cooperation with all children’s wards and maternity hospitals across the country, so that together we can reduce the record infant mortality rate and confront the severe demographic crisis. As part of the high-tech ‘Heart and Brain’ hospital complex, we are very strongly supported with clinical expertise and comprehensive capacity in a number of specialties such as orthopaedics, cardiology, neurology, surgery, genetics and others.

In a number of places, paediatric and even maternity wards are facing closure or are on the brink of survival. The examples are many and, unfortunately, even in regional centres such as Vratsa, Veliko Tarnovo and Lovech – all in state hospitals.

For all the teams at ‘Mama and I’, children and mothers are patients who always come first, regardless of where they are referred from. We do not differentiate whether they are state, municipal or private health facilities. We are equally open to collaboration with university hospitals or those with first level of competence. Patients and mothers come to us from almost all over the country, including the aforementioned regional centres. We are striving to catch up with the huge national backlog in the development of child and maternal healthcare that has deepened over the past five decades. We do not have the time and energy to engage in fruitless intrigues and confrontations with self-serving objectives. Even the historical balance sheet is irrelevant – lives are being saved now, in this moment, and raising and educating a person takes a long time. Forward-thinking decisions, large and small, unite our vast collective – for the dreams and prospects of elevating our medical qualifications and, above all, for the long-term development of our country and our society.

Concentration of high expertise cannot substitute for well-organized specialties at the regional level such as pediatric medicine and maternity care, can it?

Yes, of course it is. That is why we are great supporters and support the rapid construction of the new national children’s hospital in Sofia and the specialised children’s hospitals in Burgas and Varna, which we learned about from the media. With the national leader in hospital care ‘Heart and Brain’ we have a clear common understanding and the plans for the new hospitals also include small maternity and paediatric units, which will be methodically managed and staffed by the ‘Mama and I’ Pleven clinic together with a number of luminaries from the United States and Europe. Concentration of expertise is the only successful model for development in global hospital care, which is heavily influenced by advances in high medical technology. True success at the national level comes only when this concentrated high expertise is available to the entire population, providing satisfactory (or above minimum standard) access to diagnosis and medical care in small and remote locations. So here is a private example with the clear understanding that neither the state alone nor a single entrepreneur alone can solve the health care problems of any country in the world. Since 2007, the Bulgarian Cardiac Institute, of which ‘Mama and I’ and ‘Heart and Brain’ are a part, has built and managed seven modern hospitals outside Sofia and because of their narrow specialisation, fellow cardiologists, invasive cardiologists and cardiac surgeons have reduced mortality from cardiovascular disease and specifically myocardial infarction in the face of high overall mortality nationally.

You mentioned dreams?

We share many collective and individual dreams. There is a lot of collective and individual energy behind them. I will share just one very special one: that over the next 10 years, European statistics will objectively report a drastic reduction in infant mortality and that Bulgaria will rise to at least the European average in child and maternal healthcare.

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