In ophthalmology and other medical fields, training and treatment benefit from the professional partnerships.
By Miki Trajkovski for Southeast European Times in Skopje -- 30/09/13
Macedonian surgeons acquire latest techniques alongside Bulgarian colleagues. [Miki Trajkovski/SETimes]
Macedonian and Bulgarian health workers are collaborating in an effort to improve healthcare in the region in what is seen as a positive example of co-operation between the neighbouring countries.
A team of four Macedonian and two Bulgarian doctors performed 60 eye surgeries this month at the Clinical Hospital in Shtip, Macedonia, by using the Faco method to treat cataracts.
"It was a pleasure to come and help. I hope Macedonia will soon become an EU member and will bring ophthalmology to a higher level," Dr. Alek Topov of the Tokuda Hospital in Sofia told SETimes.
Bulgarian doctors will continue visiting the Shtip hospital once or twice a month, said Lidija Ikonomovska, an eye doctor at the Clinical Hospital in Shtip.
"We succeeded performing a large number of surgeries with Dr. Topov, more than 80 since the beginning of this year," Ikonomovska told SETmes.
Macedonian doctors are expected to begin to widely apply the surgery method, which involves using ultrasonic waves to prepare the eye for surgery, and also to lay the foundation for an ophthalmology centre.
"The idea is to make our hospital a regional surgery centre," Dr. Strahil Gazepov, ophthalmologist at the Shtip hospital, told SETimes.
Ikonomovska said co-operation began as one doctor from the Shtip hospital decided to get his training at the Tokuda in Sofia.
"Following his return, we established contact with the Tokuda hospital and with the approval of the health ministry, we agreed with the doctors of that hospital to visit us," she added.
Meanwhile, the Medical Faculty in Shtip signed a co-operation agreement with Tokuda for Macedonian students to practice in Sofia under supervision of Bulgarian doctors.
The programme should first be accredited -- a process which will last four to six months -- prior to being implemented, said Nikola Todorov, health minister of Macedonia.
"Among the key co-operation goals are to widen this programme to masters' and Ph.D. studies. We want to allow our doctors to specialise as soon as possible, beginning in March 2014, at the Tokuda Hospital," Todorov told SETimes.
Macedonia's health ministry organised continuing education for more than 300 health workers throughout the Balkans and beyond. Health workers from medical areas other than ophthalmology have also trained at Tokuda.
"As soon as I returned to Macedonia, I began applying what I worked on in Bulgaria -- laparoscopic surgeries. We gained great knowledge and experience that will surely help us in our work. All medical areas are covered at Tokuda; they have the latest equipment and excellent specialists," Dr. Mirko Lekoski, surgeon at the Struga city hospital, told SETimes.
Lekoski said relations are strictly professional, with no instances of politics or political provocations.
"Macedonian doctors who train in Bulgaria are accepted very well and face no problems," Lekoski said.
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