After the collapse of communism in the early 1990's, the newly-impoverished states of Eastern Europe could no longer afford universal healthcare. This piece looks at how Romania dealt with this issue.

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After the collapse of communism in the early 1990′s, the newly-impoverished states of Eastern Europe could no longer afford universal healthcare. Romania was no exception. Between 1990 and 1996, life expectancy in Romania declined by 1.71 years, reflecting patterns seen across the former Soviet Union and Eastern Europe.

Dialysis patients were particularly hard hit. Poor management, outdated equipment, and low quality levels of service led to a treatment rate 70 percent lower than in Western European countries. The Romanian government, understanding that it didn’t have the money or expertise to fix the problem, turned to the private sector to help meet its healthcare obligations through public-private partnerships (PPPs).

Today, four international operators are contracted to refurbish and operate dialysis facilities at eight hospitals around the country. Collectively, they invested €28.6 million. Besides refurbishing facilities and buying new equipment, they improved the management and operations of the facilities, leading to much-higher satisfaction among patients.

Although private companies run the facilities, they operate within the national healthcare system. By partnering with the private sector, the Romanian government is delivering better healthcare services at lower cost to its citizens.

Learn more about Healthcare PPPs in Handshake: Healthcare PPPs.

David Lawrence works for the International Finance Corporation’s Public-Private Partnership department.