ADVANCEMENT OF HEALTH CARE IN THE ADMINISTRATION OF PEOPLE'S LIBERAL PARTY /1903-1920/
The constitution of the People's Liberal Party unites some of the eminent political figures in the country. Among them are veterans from the National Liberation Period - Stephan Stambolov, Zachari Stoianov, Georgi Zhivkov, Dimiter Petkov, Nikola Obretenov etc; also, former members of the Conservative Party of Eastern Rumelia - Dimiter Grekov, Ivan HadjiEnev, Ivan Andonov, Ivan Salabashev etc. Thus, taking the helm of bulgarian administration /1887-1894/, the Party establishes a regime contributing to strengthen the political and economic positions of petty bourgeoisie in Bulgaria. This leads to ascension to the throne of Prince Ferdinand I /b. Vienna 26 February 1861, d. Coburg 10 September 1948/, however, because of weakness of monarchic institute at that historical period, a phrase is coined - "The king reigns but does not rule over". The assassination of S. Stambolov creates a confusion in the Party ranks. Without its authoritative chief the perspectives of a political favorite seamed unhappy, until, on 05 May 1903 the monarch summons the People's Liberal Party in the government. Again, after almost ten years of political lingering, the national destiny and long-term prestige of the country are put on high stake. This time a new political leader excels - Dr. Vasil Radoslavov. In the long run, both the king and the premier will end their life in exile. On such a historical canvass it is tempting to present the health care affairs in the country.
The first session of the National Assembly on 30 December 1903 adopts the "Law on Protection of Public Health", which revokes the Sanitary Law from 29 November 1888 and itself stays in power for the next 26 years. The Law from 1903 has its chief architect in the face of Dr. Marin Russev /1864-1935/. The latter is eminent figure in the ranks of the Bulgarian Doctors Association, one of the foremost balneologists in Bulgaria and author of many surveys on bulgarian health resorts. Now, we have a new Law which postulates an increase of health personnel and creates generally better opportunities for medical service of the population. Instead of 60 000 people per physician a new arrangement is made for 20 000 administered per physician. For this purpose district constituency is subdivided into sanitary districts /"lekarski uchastuk"/ where physicians and feldshers are appointed according number of residents. Next, a popular hygiene councils /"obshtinski higieni soveti"/ are established on a municipal level with membership from the government and aiming at administrative measures if the need should arise. For instance, the hygiene councils had the power to impose a fine from 10 to 25 lv. to someone trespassing the sanitary norms of cleanness in the environment and the behavior, etc. Another step is, introducing for the first time compulsory vaccination for smallpox to children 1-7 years old and youths 20 years old which is administered by a Central Medical Institute for manufacturing of serum. As a whole, the health care system is ruled over by the Directorate for Protection of Public Health, a department of the Ministry of Interior, which reduces the role of the existing Supreme Medical Council and makes it an appendix to the directorate.
The advancement in the Law stimulates the business of medical drug dealers. They insist, their syndicates, on 01 June 1904 that the government should rise the costs of medications with average 60-70%. This being a fact, the opposition in the face of the agrarians says: People have been already going to medicine-man and fortune-tellers out of poverty and You, from the ruling circles, dare drive him even further by rising the price of medications.
Meanwhile, the problem for covering the newly opened vacancies with licensed physicians persists. This compels the supplement of the "Law for Protection of Public Health" in 1906, saying that military feldshers and sanitary could work for the civil services. It is a dangerous step back in case that quality of medical care should failure but education at that time was affordable only from abroad and for a long period of time. While there is a shortage of medical personal, the inadequacy for hospital establishment is even greater. In the autumn of 1903 the first orthopedic clinic /with a workshop for prosthesis/ is opened. In 1905 a modern pediatric detachment is attributed to Alexander's hospital in Sofia. About that time a complex project to enhance the existing hospital base is launched. On average the logistics is increased by 30-40 beds, while in some big hospitals with 100 beds. Further, the crude number of hospitals rises from 51 in 1903 to 58 in 1908, mainly new establishments in the countryside and financed by the local gentry.
In consideration with the historical period being examined full appreciation by the governing classes was paid to the development of balneologic centers. Most important advance in this direction was the allotted special credit for building of mineral baths at the spas of Kniazhevo, Gorna Bania, Bankia, Merichleri, Varshetz, Hissar etc. On 18 December 1907 the municipality of Balchik is allotted a grant and a terrain for building a healing center at the vicinities of the town. Altogether, competent circles from the country and abroad discuss the opinion that Bulgarian Spas have good future.
If separate attention is paid to the absolute parameters of budget allocations distributed by regions, a constitution will be made that from 177 500 lv. in 1902 the budget jumped 3-4 fold in the next year. Most money are detached for Varna, Sofia, Burgas, Russe, Shumen districts. Still, on a relative scale the health budget is alarmingly low - on average 2.57% from the gross domestic product. The process enters into chaos after the country takes part into the tumultuous years of two Balkan Wars and the First World War.
Finally, words should be said about the opening of Medical Faculty in Sofia. The need for separate medical school is debated by the end of the past century. Thusfore, Alexander's hospital served as a hearth of bulgarian medicine. By 1904 a medical library is bound on the territory of the hospital and by 1906 - a medical museum. The material basis is continuously updated, the wards are enlarged and adapted to host the clinics of the future faculty. In 1907, Alexander's hospital in association with Mother's Home, the other big health care establishment on the territory of Sofia-city, organize three months qualifying courses in surgery, obstetrics&gynecology and ophthalmology. The results are that 17 physicians are sent for specialization abroad, among them several future professors in the faculty: Dr. Stoian Kirkovich /Vienna, internal medicine/, Dr. Atanas Teodorov /Vienna, forensic medicine/, Dr. Toshko Petrov /Tulusa, hygiene/, Dr. Ivan Kiprov /Berlin, eye&ear diseases/, etc. The fourth faculty of Sofia University have its birthday on a regular session of the National Assembly - 20 January 1917. First lectures are given on 10 April 1918. The right hand for the opening of the faculty is most vigorously supported by Dr. Stephan Vatev /1866-1946/, member of the Democratic Party. Thus, a new chapter is open for homeland medicine in Bulgaria.