Health director Dr Jean-Claude Schmit sat in with RTL journalist Annick Goerens on Wednesday to answer questions on testing travellers from China, the flu epidemic, improving healthcare and the shortage of medicines.
Arrivals from China are subjected to monitoring and offered free tests until the end of March, and five such tests were conducted over the past days, says Dr Schmit.
The health director explains that as these tests usually take place at international airport hubs, Luxembourg would be more protected because there are no direct flights to China. While there is fear of new variants, none have been discovered thus far.
Luxembourg officially advises against non-essential travel to China.
The flu peak was reached in the week before Christmas, says Dr Schmit. Over the past two weeks, the number of flu cases confirmed by Luxembourg’s laboratories dropped from 2,552 to around 500.
But as most people were either at home or away on holiday, the return to work and school could provoke a second flu wave in January, the health expert warns.
There were an ongoing discussion on how to reorganise Luxembourg’s healthcare system, according to Dr Schmit.
Some of Dr Schmit’s colleagues are advocating the Scandinavian model, where general practitioners act as stronger gatekeepers. In Nordic countries patients must make an appointment with their GP before being referred to a specialist, a process that can be skipped in the Grand Duchy. However, it would relieve specialists of workload and reserve their time for more serious cases.
Even though Dr Schmit is a big fan of how Scandinavian countries organise their healthcare system, he questions whether the Luxembourg public would agree to a reduced accessibility to specialists.
Another focus point is the access to patient files. No matter where the patients presents themselves, doctors and specialists should have information on the patient at all times. “This is only made possible through digitalisation”, says the health director.
Shortage of medicines
Pharmacy stocks are continuously decreasing, a problem also affecting Luxembourg’s neighbouring countries.
Pharmacies in Luxembourg receive medication deliveries from three major suppliers based in Belgium, who themselves get medicine directly from laboratories. That were not a decision made by Luxembourg, but the supply chain of the suppliers.
Although new medicines take time to be given the green light, special emergency authorisitations can be made by doctors upon request, and alternative solutions can be discussed between pharmacists and GPs.
Full interview in Luxembourgish: