Navigating Healthcare in Albania: A Guide for Returning Citizens or Tourists

Essential Steps and Tips for Accessing Medical Services While Visiting Your Homeland

Topic: Presentation and Approach of a Patient in the Albanian Healthcare System

How Does the Healthcare Service Function?

For years, the Albanian healthcare system has been providing qualified services that support and assist patients according to their health needs. Due to the large population and the significant increase in patients with chronic diseases, the healthcare system is currently facing one of its greatest challenges: managing this influx of patients, especially in the capital city, Tirana, which has the largest population.

 Who is at the Core of the Healthcare Service for Patients?

The tireless work of family doctors is at the core of this seamless process. The first step in this chain is the health visit to the family doctor.

 How Can an Albanian Living Abroad or a Tourist Access Healthcare When Visiting Albania?

This process is particularly relevant for Albanians living abroad who may fall ill when they return to their homeland. Despite living outside the country, a significant number of these individuals remain registered at their respective health centers, usually based on their previous residential addresses in Albania. Votra Magazine has highlighted the importance of maintaining these registrations for easier access to healthcare services upon return.

In this article, I aim to provide detailed information on how an Albanian citizen living abroad can access public healthcare services in Albania if they fall ill during their visit, as featured in Votra Magazine.

Identifying Your Health Center

As mentioned earlier, everything starts with the residential address. The first action a patient should take is to identify the health center corresponding to their residence. Each street is linked to a specific health center. Notably, one health center can serve several streets or neighborhoods. If you cannot identify your health center, you can ask other family members, as families tend to register with the same clinic and family doctor. Alternatively, you can take your Albanian ID card or passport to any health center, where a doctor can verify your registration in the computer system based on your ID number.

Using the E-Albania Platform

A third, simpler, and more practical method is available for those registered on the E-Albania platform. By using their Albanian ID number on the platform, they can find their family doctor.

Visiting Your Family Doctor

After identifying your health center, you can visit its address and ask at the reception for your family doctor, whose name will also appear when you use your ID. Be aware that family doctors work in shifts, so to be seen by your doctor, you must visit during their assigned shift.

 In Case of an Emergency

If your health situation is urgent, you can call the Albanian emergency number, 127, or visit the nearest health center for immediate medical attention from the on-duty doctor. This doctor can then refer you to other healthcare institutions as needed.

It is important to remain calm and avoid confusion. Every patient has the right to receive emergency medical services, and the healthcare system is organized and prepared to handle such situations.

 Routine Visits and Checkups

For routine visits or health checkups, you should see your family doctor during their shift. Your family doctor maintains your medical records and knows your health history, allowing you to discuss your health concerns with them effectively.

Each health center also offers laboratory services, including blood tests, imaging, and various specialties. One of the most important services is the checkup, available to all patients over 35 years old, providing a comprehensive overview of their health status.

Specialized Visits and Hospital Services

If a health problem requiring specialized care is identified, your family doctor will refer you to the appropriate specialty clinic and provide the necessary documentation. For further hospital services, except in emergencies, the specialist doctor will direct and recommend you, providing the relevant documentation.

If you need medication reimbursement for a chronic condition, the same procedure applies. If you are not registered with a family doctor, you can only receive emergency medical services. For any other action, you must register with the appropriate health center based on your residence. If you do not have a residence in Albania and lack an Albanian ID or passport, the only service available to you is emergency care.

Additional Services

Health centers also offer other services, such as medical visits required for renewing a driver’s license, determining the ability for family care, and providing prescriptions for chronic patients. These services can be discussed with your family doctor.

An efficient and organized healthcare system is crucial for citizens to receive the right services. Proper information and guidance can save time and clarify the necessary steps, avoiding unnecessary fatigue and confusion.

Dr. Vlera Lekaj

For more insights on navigating the Albanian healthcare system, stay tuned to Votra Magazine.

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