NEWS AND UPDATES
Due to the situation caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, the Serbian American Medical Association's activities have been suspended.
SAMA is closely following the developments in Serbia and we are in regular contact with physicians with whom we have been sharing experiences and available data.
One of the first conclusion from our initial evaluation of the situation was that SAMA can have only a very limited impact, especially considering the involvement of several governments (Serbia, China, EU, Russia) and the overall market situation and demand for equipment such as respirators and PPEs. It is important that there appears to be sufficient supplies and that the impact of this pandemic in Serbia appears to be relatively limited, especially when compared to many other countries.
However, based on what we know (not completely surprising), one can ask how well this was managed. For example, there was a lot of talk about respirators. Reportedly, Serbia purchased a large number (unknown how many exactly) of new respirators to have on hand in addition to the 1000 units that were available prior to the crisis, only to end up having (fortunately) slightly above 200 people needing them at the most critical point. More over, many of the new respirators did not meet EU required specifications or even Serbia standards.
We do hope that when this epidemic passes, there will be more systematic investment in the Serbian health infrastructure. The main hospital in charge of fighting this epidemic (Clinic for Infectious Diseases in Belgrade) is in horrible shape (see pictures SAMA took during a visit in 2018 and the following link) and promises had been made two years ago that construction of new buildings was imminent. Even then, Dr. Stevanovic, director of the clinic was doubtful that this would happen, and asked for help in reconstructing few patient rooms.
We do plan to go and visit Serbia as soon as the situation allows. We have few projects in preparation including help to Serbian enclaves in Kosovo, as well as the above mentioned project for the Infectious Clinic.
As always, we are hopeful that together we can continue to support the people in Serbia and the Balkans. We are greatly thankful for all your help.