Foreign Investors’ Council in Latvia (FICIL) highly appreciates the work of healthcare professionals during this greatly demanding and challenging situation. Due to the integral work of medical and other essential personnel as well as the swift decisions made by the Government, the State has, to date, been able to relatively successfully deal with the spread of Covid-19 in Latvia. However, for many years now there have been debates surrounding the financing of the healthcare sector, FICIL stresses the need to start viewing the healthcare sector as an investment, meaning proper financing to continue the sustainable development of said sector. Needless to say that we have to be prepared in case of a potential second wave of the outbreak of Covid-19 this fall.

Despite of the immense work of the healthcare workers, there are still imminent challenges in the sector that require sustainable solutions. In November 2019, a protest over insufficient funding and excessive workload took place by the Latvian healthcare workers. Even though the State recognised the healthcare sector’s needs and problems persisting over a period of 20 years, the Cabinet of Ministers agreed to solve the issues in a gradual manner. FICIL believes the current global and national situation demands for immediate review of the challenges regarding the under-financed healthcare system. The State should not only focus on ensuring continuity of businesses and state companies, but also secure additional funding for the health care system, including the critically underpaid healthcare sector professionals.

This crisis has also highlighted further challenges regarding access to healthcare in Latvia, mainly economic and physical access. With an economic downturn to follow the current situation, many people from lower income groups will face challenges in accessing necessary healthcare professionals which was already acknowledged as a problem in 2019 by the OECD Health Statistics. Physical access has understandably been delayed in recent months, and while FICIL fully supports the measures taken by the Government to reduce the spread, including modifying patient flow during the state of emergency, it is vital that a comprehensive plan, and finance, is in place to tackle postponed appointments and procedures due to the current events.

Looking forward, FICIL would like to remind the Government to make sustainable investment and implement progressive reform. Increasing public funding and efficiency for healthcare is critical in not only the fight against Covid-19 but beyond, as Latvia returns to a new normal. FICIL believes the health workers have proved to deserve proper remuneration, and overall ongoing investment in the healthcare system, amidst recognition and appreciation.

FICIL is a non-governmental organisation that unites 38 largest foreign capital companies from various industries, 10 foreign chambers of commerce in Latvia, French Foreign Trade Advisers and Stockholm School of Economics in Riga. The goal of FICIL is to improve Latvia’s business environment and overall competitiveness in attracting foreign investment, using the experience and knowledge of its members to provide recommendations to Government and state institutions.