Hell on Earth

January 10, 2013, Thursday // 07:32 ; Milena Hristova
Bulgaria: Hell on Earth

As I somberly marked one year since the death of Teodora Zaharieva, the first Bulgarian who dared to wage a battle against the apathy and carelessness of the state towards cancer patients, the story of a young cancer-stricken lady shocked me.

Yes, the story of 29-year-old Gergana, whose body is switching off, losing the fight with cancer, came as a shock even though her ordeal is not an exception. Rather it is the rule.

As her body started to give up the fight for survival, she was repeatedly refused admission into Bulgarian hospitals. Lack of money and red tape makes palliative care for terminally ill patients virtually non-existent in Bulgaria.

This seems to be against the rules, set by the National Health Insurance Fund. It "obliges" terminally ill patients to die within twenty days. But if God refuses to take into the air your quiet breath, the misery drags on, more abominable than before.

Relatives often rule out the only option of abandoning their dying loved ones at a dubious, far-away and expensive hospice. The result is slow and painful death at home.

My little hope is that media coverage of such hard cases will make a difference.

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