State-funded epidural anaesthesia becomes a reality in Latvia

In order to commence improvement of availability of epidural anaesthesia in Latvia by the end of this year and provide state-funded services for children suffering from autism, Latvia’s government agreed to allocate more than EUR 420 000 from the state budget for emergencies.
«Step by step, need by need we are moving towards universal healthcare in Latvia, making services more accessible to our residents. Young parents have anxiously waited today’s decisions for a long time. We will continue working on solutions in other areas,» said Minister of Health Daniels Pavļuts.
EUR 13 000 will be used to finance autism spectrum diagnostic services for children by the end of the year. EUR 6 000 will be used to develop a single diagnostic method and introduce it in the entire country with help from specialists from Children’s Clinical University Hospital.
The author of the initiative Simona Dilāne comments on the changes: «I am happy to see Latvia making the first steps towards providing at least some coming mothers with state-funded epidural anaesthesia. I believe and hope Latvia’s Ministry of Health, as well as other responsible institutions, will do all they can to make this service free of charge to all women who want epidural anaesthesia when delivering a child. I would like to see accessibility of healthcare services in Latvia, at least in this area, to reach the level of other EU member states.»
EUR 402 000 will help improve the accessibility of epidural anaesthesia, extending the conditions for receiving the service and introducing a common approach in medical institutions.
Considering the number of specialists, workload and capacity of medical institutions, as well as available financing, it is not currently possible to provide epidural anaesthesia to every woman that wants it.
In cooperation with Latvian Gyneacologists and Obstetricians Association and Latvian Association of Anaesthesiologists and Resuscitators it was possible to list and implement single medical indications as to when epidural anaesthesia is recommended as a priority. This helps plan the use of this service.
Anaesthesia is outlined for cases such as systematic illness during pregnancy, uncontrolled gestational hypertension, sugar metabolism disorders, polyhydramnium, fetal macrosomy, obesity (body mass index above 40 kg / m2), uterine discoordination, multiple pregnancy, preterm birth (<34 weeks of gestation), fetal developmental abnormalities and other indications.
The decision regarding improvement of this service’s accessibility was made based on a collective application from Latvian residents submitted to the Saeima this may, when more than 10 000 signatures were collected in favour of state-funded services for children with autism and pregnant women’s rights for free epidural anaesthesia.
It is planned to continue developing both services in the future. The government plans to allocate about EUR 2.2 million for these services every year.