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In Romania, a children's hospital was established thanks to donations

In Romania, a children's hospital was established thanks to donations

Eric, 15 months, suffering from a brain tumor, walks through brightly colored corridors: A new children's hospital has opened in Romania, funded exclusively by private donations in a country with a crumbling medical sector.

When the first young patients arrived in April at these pristine places, the property now ceded to the state, Oana Gheorghiu had to pinch herself to believe it.

At the beginning of the project born in 2015 in Bucharest, this co-founder of the Daruieste Viata (Give Life) association never thought the wave of sympathy her advocacy would generate.

“We have little trust in each other,” she told AFP. “But at the end of the day, Romanians only need issues they care about.”

Nearly 8,000 companies and 350,000 individuals – including the famous American heavy metal group Metallica – contributed a tenth of their total amount of €53 million.

Twenty million small donations of two and four euros come via SMS. His partner, Carmen Oscato, is all smiles, proof that “anything is possible.”

'A slap to politicians'

Faced with the state's failures, the two economics graduates decided to take matters into their own hands, moved by the plight of sick children: the cancer survival rate is among the lowest in the European Union (70% compared to an average of 81%). %).

The NGO, which has seen twelve health ministers pass without changing anything, refers to “a combination of incompetence, lack of vision and corruption.”

For actor and musician Teodor Cirila, one of the donors, this unprecedented initiative is “a slap in the face to politicians who have done nothing.”

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Since the fall of communism in 1989, Romania has allowed its hospitals to gradually deteriorate. Most of the buildings were built before 1970 and “no longer meet standards,” according to a recent report by the Audit Bureau.

Despite strong growth, the country has the lowest per capita health spending in the European Union (€713), according to the latest figures from Eurostat. It fails to retain its doctors, more than 15,000 of whom have emigrated since it joined the union in 2007.

Built on the grounds of a public hospital, the modern nine-storey gray and yellow building stands out in the landscape. In a warm climate, the hospital provides 140 beds, oncology, surgery and intensive care services.

Games rooms, cinema and astronomical observatory on the roof: everything is done to facilitate the daily life of young patients.

“Like at home”

Little Eric, who has neuroblastoma, one of the most common cancers in children, and is undergoing chemotherapy, runs around the block wearing Mickey Mouse pants.

On the floor, a yellow sticker encourages him to “dance,” as he fidgets and escapes from his mother’s embrace.

After two months in the dilapidated suite next door, Ildiz Ivan, 41, welcomes the “radical change” in decor. “If I ignore the presence of doctors and nurses, I feel at home,” she says.

The medical profession is happy too. “Our relationship with patients is different,” and more peaceful, stresses hematologist Madalina Schmidt, who lived 400 kilometers away and moved to Bucharest for the opportunity to work in such conditions.

The association, while monitoring the hospital's management, now hopes to raise funds to continue its mission and establish a true medical campus.

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“We cannot stop here,” says Carmen Oscato, who dreams of profound regime change. So that the parents of sick children do not travel abroad to receive treatment, “as our politicians always do.”