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57th Regular Session of the Government of the Republic of Slovenia

At today's meeting, the Government adopted urgent measures to ensure a smooth supply of medicinal products and a Dementia Management Strategy to improve the quality of life of people with dementia and their families.

The Government adopted a draft Act on urgent measures to ensure the uninterrupted supply of medicinal products. The aim of the Act is to ensure a continuous supply of medicinal products to the population that is sustainable, safe and of good quality. The draft Act will prevent delays or interruptions in the supply of medicinal products due to difficulties in public procurement and, as a consequence, shortages of medicinal products on the Slovenian market, in addition to the existing disruptions faced by the entire European Union. The measures taken will not significantly reduce the range of medicinal products available in Slovenia, which means that Slovenian patients will not have significantly fewer medicinal products available to them in the future than they do now.

The Law temporarily regulates the issue of procurement of medicinal products through public procurement procedures and eliminates the problem of simultaneous compliance by public pharmacy institutions with sectoral and public procurement rules. The draft Act introduces an exception to the public procurement procedure in the field of procurement of medicinal products, namely the Public Procurement Act does not apply to public procurement of medicinal products which are considered as medicinal products on the market in the Republic of Slovenia according to the Medicinal Products Act and which are procured by public pharmacy institutions in accordance with the law regulating pharmacy activities.

In terms of ensuring transparency, the draft Act regulates the obligation of public pharmacy institutions to comply with the prohibition of restriction of competition, the prohibition of discrimination and the principle of transparency when procuring medicinal products that are considered as medicinal products on the market in the Republic of Slovenia in accordance with the law regulating medicinal products. The contracting authority must keep a record of the awarding of these contracts, including the supplier, the subject matter, the type of subject matter and the value of the contract, excluding VAT, and publish information on the contracts awarded in the previous year on its website.

The measures are temporary and valid until 31 December 2024, with the possibility of extension or until the relevant systemic arrangements are in place.

The Government adopted the Dementia Management Strategy in Slovenia until 2030 (the Strategy), which provides the basis for an integrated approach by all stakeholders to tackle the problem of dementia and related conditions. The Strategy has made significant progress in the management of people with dementia and in supporting their families. Based on the Strategy, a system will be established by 2030 in which every person with dementia will be surrounded by understanding and will have access to high-quality, accessible and effective treatment. The planned actions will have a significant impact on improving the quality of life of people with dementia, their families and carers.

The Strategy identifies ten objectives, including:

  • promoting a range of prevention programmes to reduce risk factors and maintain and improve health;
  • diagnosing the early stages of neurocognitive disorders;
  • improving access to effective health care and treatment;
  • reducing stigma;
  • educating professional groups on dementia management;
  • collecting data and promoting research on dementia;
  • improving access to appropriate post-diagnostic care, including long-term care, palliative care, social services and support for families or carers;
  • establishing a specific register containing not only health data but also social care and other data for effective planning and implementation of dementia management interventions.

One of the objectives of the Strategy is the establishment of a National Centre for Dementia, which will ensure the professional development of the field, the quality of services and the improvement of the professional competences of providers. It will also promote and carry out research and other activities for dementia management and monitor the implementation of the Strategy. An information and advice system will also be set up to support people with dementia, their relatives or carers. To implement the Strategy, the Ministry of Health, in cooperation with all stakeholders, will draw up action plans for a period of 2 to 5 years. The first Action Plan will set out actions for 2023 and 2024. Within this plan, with the exception of the actions that are already being implemented, all actions will be aimed at preparing the expert basis for the implementation of the Strategy.

Dementia, one of the greatest challenges of a long-lived society, is caused by degenerative, vascular, inflammatory or other diseases of the brain. These develop gradually in the individual. Accurate and early diagnosis allows the selection of an appropriate therapeutic approach, prediction of the prognosis of the disease and effective post-diagnostic management. It also makes it easier for the person with dementia and their family to cope with the disease and plan for the future. The treatment of dementia goes beyond a purely medical field and requires an interdisciplinary approach and inter-sectoral cooperation, which will now be facilitated by the adopted document.

Life expectancy is increasing. Slovenia is no exception. By 2030, the proportion of people aged 65 and over will increase from 21.48% to 24.8%, and by 2060 to 29.5%. According to very strict economic burden criteria, between 2015 and 2017, Slovenia spent around EUR 11.4 million per year on dementia, or 0.3% of total health expenditure. The World Health Organisation calculates that the global cost in 2015 was EUR 818 billion, or 1% of global gross domestic product. We estimate that there are over 40,000 people living with dementia in Slovenia. Demographic change is therefore a fact of life to which systems need to adapt to enable all generations to age with dignity. We need to make it possible to age as actively and healthily as possible and to remain independent for as long as possible.

State Secretary Tadej Ostrc | Author Daniel Novakovič/STA