Czechs visit the doctor more than anyone else in Central Europe

Photo: CTK

A visit to the doctor or dentist might strike fear into the heart of you or I, but not Czechs. According to a study released on Monday, Czechs visit their GPs on average some 15 times a year. This is almost twice as often as their neighbours in Germany and Austria. The study, which was commissioned by the Czech government, compared the Czech Republic to five other Central European nations, as well as Holland and Switzerland, who had already conducted such research. The findings? That the Czech Republic tops them all when it comes to waste and inefficiency in its healthcare system. Earlier today, Rosie Johnston talked to the study's author, Ondrej Matl, who said it wasn't all bad news:

Photo: CTK
"The first key message is that the Czech population's health depends at the moment, and will depend increasingly as time goes by, on the way that people approach their own health. That means the extent to which we smoke, the extent to which we consume alcohol, how much exercise we take, the kind of food we eat etc. In this respect, the Czech population is lagging behind."

"The second thing which I find quite interesting and important is that the Czech health sector is leading in terms of childcare. If you look at the statistics, the Czech Republic has one of the lowest rates of infant mortality, from 0-6 months, in the world. But compared to the very good care the Czech Republic offers children, we lag behind in our care for the elderly."

A very interesting figure that came out of your research was that Czechs visit the doctor more frequently than any other Central European nation. Why do you think that is?

"Perhaps one of the possible reasons is that Czechs don't trust their doctors that much - this means that patients will visit one doctor, and then they'll visit a second, just to be sure that they have been given the right prescription. I think this is one of the reasons behind this figure."

And do you think that Czechs are a nation of hypochondriacs?

"I wouldn't say that, I don't think so. I don't believe that we are that much different from anyone else in terms of believing that we are ill when we are not."

What does your report suggest should be done to remedy this wasteful visiting of several doctors each time you fall ill?

"So far we haven't come up with any remedies - instead, we have just tried to define the problems, and agree upon them. The second stage will start at the beginning of next year, when we will try and make a kind of catalogue of what can be done. I think this will be even more challenging than describing where the problem lies."

Do you think that the Czech healthcare system is in crisis?

"I wouldn't use the word crisis. I think the Czech healthcare system has a cold, and it needs to be cured, as it is with any person who has a cold."