Kosovo Counts Cost of Delays to Integrated Health Database

Two months later, the treatment had ravaged his immune system.

Fearing for his life, Rron's family in the town of Vushtrri/Vucitrn, north of the Kosovo capital Pristina, sent him to neighbouring North Macedonia for a second opinion.

"I underwent stomach checkups in a private clinic in Skopje," he said. "They recorded it with a camera and said the stomach was fine and I should see an endocrinologist. After I visited him, I was told that my suprarenal gland was not secreting enough hormones and I needed to take therapy." A few days later, Rron was back on his feet.

But the experience left psychological scars and a hole of thousands of euros in the family finances. Just the treatment in North Macedonia cost 4,000 euros, Rron said, a huge sum for a family in Kosovo where the average salary at the time was roughly 500 euros per month.

Cases of medical misdiagnosis are not uncommon in Kosovo. Though the specific reason for Rron's cannot be identified with absolute certainty, a big part of the problem is the lack of a centralised patient database that would make medical histories available to doctors at the click of a button.

Kosovo began work on just such a database - the Health Information System - in 2011, with funding from the government of Luxembourg. But over a decade later, hardly any progress has been made, leaving doctors in the dark and patients carrying ragged health booklets from clinic to clinic.

"According to my info, if we add up the investments from the governments of Kosovo and Luxembourg over the years, the overall cost might be around 20 million euros," said Arben Vitia, now in his third stint as health minister since 2020. He is reluctant to point the finger of blame, however.

"Why has it not been done?...

Continue reading on: