By Amina Nazarli
The State Agency for health insurance has started to operate in Azerbaijan under the Cabinet of Ministers.
Deputy Prime Minister Ali Ahmadov said to ensure effective operation of this structure, it is necessary to attract appropriate experts at the first stage.
The next stage, according to Ahmadov, provides conducting a serious work in applying mandatory health insurance.
“Considerable work has been done, the concept [of compulsory health insurance] is almost ready, but relevant activities are underway. A group of international experts has been invited to study which model is most appropriate for Azerbaijan. One such group is already examining what opportunities and resources exist for the application of the system in the country,” he said.
The deputy prime minister emphasized that after determining the specific model, Azerbaijan will start to apply this type of insurance.
“I believe that through the use of compulsory medical insurance the quality of medical services provided to the population will increase significantly,” he said.
Another goal of creating this public agency, according to him, is applying a new and more modern health care financing form in Azerbaijan.
Ahmadov said that Azerbaijan also intends to apply this model, which is used in the global health system.
“The main task of this model is more rational use of funds allocated by the state, which will contribute improving healthcare quality” he said. “For low-income groups of population health care will be financed by the state, and it will also make insurance premiums [on compulsory medical insurance].”
Compulsory health insurance remains a priority in Azerbaijan's insurance policy. The mandatory insurance program ensures citizens to receive free, high-quality medical care and eliminates unofficial payments from the health system.
Earlier, Azerbaijan has requested a technical assistance from the World Bank for the implementation of compulsory health insurance in the country.
Currently, Azerbaijan has only voluntary medical insurance, fees for which amounted to 36.86 million manats (about $24 million) in January 2016, with payments of up to 4.47 million manats (about $2.94 million).
Ahmadov further touched upon the medicine production, adding that all the necessary conditions will be created for companies, which want to open a pharmaceutical plants in the country.
“Work on the organization of pharmaceutical production are promoted, and there are several options in this regard. I believe that after the establishment of one or two pharmaceutical plants, Azerbaijani market will be interesting for other manufacturers and a number of pharmaceutical companies desiring to open a plant in the country will increase,” he explained.
The deputy prime minister emphasized that this experience may enable domestic drug manufacturers to appear after certain time.
“Anyway, the work has begun, and I think that drugs that will soon be produced in Azerbaijan, will appear on the country’s medicine market,” he hoped.
Developing pharmaceutical manufacturing in Azerbaijan may become one of major directions in the country's aim to diversify its non-oil sector of the economy.
In late 2015, the government announced that Azerbaijan will establish its own enterprises that will manufacture medicines to cease dependence on imports.
The market of medicines in Azerbaijan by 97 percent dependent on imports, while 57 percent of medicines registered in the country are produced in Europe, 26 percent in the CIS countries, including 12 percent made in Russia. The small proportion is produced in Asian countries.