Since the appearance of the first coronavirus (COVID-19) cases in Serbia, there has been an ongoing discussion on the number of ventilators, the medical equipment designed to assist breathing which is necessary in the event of an epidemic. Serbian Prime Minister Ana Brnabić on Thursday, March 12, first said that there was a sufficient number of ventilators, adding that she couldn’t publicly give the exact number, and then said that the information was treated as a state secret. However, that same day President Aleksandar Vučić came out with a specific number.
“That’s my fault, about the number of ventilators. Because I wanted us to procure even more. We now have 1,008 ventilators, three times more than in 2009. And in 20 days’ time we’ll have another 500. We ordered [the ventilators] because we wanted to be prepared,” Vučić said in a March 12 public address.
Thank you for reposting CINS articles! When doing so, you need to state that you have taken the story over from the Center for Investigative Journalism of Serbia, and provide a link to the article you are reposting.
More information at: cins.rs/uslovi-koriscenja/
The previous day, the Ministry of Health called the urgent public procurement of 15 ventilators, which will be delivered to hospitals throughout the country.
In line with the Law on Free Access to Information of Public Importance, the Center for Investigative Journalism of Serbia (CINS) received from the Institute of Public Health Dr. Milan Jovanović Batut data on the official number of ventilators – so-called artificial respiration – in Serbia on March 13, 2020. (President Vučić subsequently, on March 14, said that he had procured 50 more ventilators, while the authorities will, according to announcements, continue to work on procuring new ones.)
According to the official report delivered to CINS, which does not list equipment from military medical institutions, the total number of ventilators is 1,024 – 955 of which are operational, i.e. as the Batut Institute lists it, “in use.” Out of the total number, 66 ventilators are not being used, i.e. are not operational, while three are in the “unknown” category.
If ventilators are classified as “unknown,” that means they could not identify whether they are in a basement, or if someone has stolen them, or thrown them away as scrap metal, epidemiologist Zoran Radovanović explained to CINS.
* koristi se=it is in function
ne koristi se=it’s not in function
** According to data provided by Batut Institute, the hospital in Užice had medical ventilators located in departments in Požega and Nova Varoš. Both of them are on the map shown as in Užice.
Observed by districts, the Belgrade District is dominant with 431 ventilators, followed by the South Banat District with 164.
We Asked Health Care Institutions About Ventilators.
They were tight-lipped. Read more here.
Note: This information was added on April 6th, 2020
The Nišava and Šumadija districts are in the middle of the scale, with 44 and 39 ventilators respectively. Batut data show that the Toplica District has the smallest number of ventilators, four in total.
* The software we used didn’t allow us to show the map of Serbia with Kosovo and Metohija included. That is why the map isn’t showing Kosovskomitrovački disctrict (7 medical ventilators in use) and Kosovski district (1 medical ventilator in use).
Epidemiologist Radovanović explains that one might ask how many ventilators are actually operational and how many exist only in terms of bookkeeping –in the documents, how many are stored in a basement or undergoing repairs.
“Last year, doctors in Kraljevo went on strike, they did not want to use those devices because they had not undergone maintenance for years and may be dangerous to patients. Because if they use malfunctioning devices, then they (the doctor) are to blame, and they cannot repair them on their own,” said Radovanović.
Epidemiologist and assistant director of the Institute of Public Health Kragujevac Predrag Delić says that there have been instances where a broken device was purchased and repairing it would not pay off, and so it was registered as “not in use.” He adds that, nevertheless, there aren’t many such devices.
“I assume that, when a list of all the equipment at the disposal of a particular institution is provided, some of that equipment is non-operational or decommissioned, while we are obliged to still keep that equipment and present it in that way. That is ‘not in use’, or non-operational, or is simply a new device,” Delić explains.
Using the data provided by the Statistical Office of the Republic of Serbia on population size in Serbia’s districts, the CINS journalists calculated the number of ventilators per 10,000 inhabitants. According to that parameter, the South Banat District is the leader with more than two ventilators per 10,000 inhabitants. Right behind it is Belgrade, with a similar number. Eighteen Serbian districts have fewer than one ventilator per 10,000 inhabitants. The bottom of the list is occupied by the Rasina, Jablanica and Mačva districts.
Out of all the cities and towns in Serbia, the capital has the biggest number of ventilators, followed by Novi Sad, Sremska Kamenica, Niš and Kragujevac.
Among health care institutions, the Emergency Room of the Clinical Center of Serbia has the biggest number of ventilators – 66. The Center for Anesthesiology and Reanimation of the Clinical Center of Serbia has 47, whereas the Emergency Room in Novi Sad has 40 ventilators. Next on the list are the Mother and Child Health Care Institute Dr. Vukan Čupić, Institute of Cardiovascular Diseases in Sremska Kamenica and the Institute for Cardiovascular Diseases Dedinje. Other health care institutions have fewer than 30 ventilators.