A medic from Morocco: “Getting medical help in Lithuania is a real heaven”

Written by a journalist Laima Karaliūtė

National health service institutions in Vilnius which provide foreigner-friendly service:
Centro poliklinika (Pylimo g. 3)
Šeškinės poliklinika (Šeškinės g. 24)

Why is it good to use service of clinics mentioned above?

Their online websites give the ability to navigate menu in English and Russian
Their mobile menu can be read in English and Russian
One can find information about doctors who can communicate in foreign languages and their contact details in the list provided on the website
There is a person on each shift who can communicate in a foreign language
Every guest, before signing a Lithuanian agreement form can familiarize himself with the explanation about the agreement form written in English and Russian languages
Every reception window has visibly attached stickers which provide information for visitors about languages employees can speak
Queuing machines have installed navigation bars in English and Russian languages

More information about the healthcare system, insurance, services, clinics and other topics is available on the National health credit website http://www.vlk.lt/sites/en
Russian and English speakers can also consult via mobile, email and Skype. 

A collage by Tomas Terekas

A “Santaros” public relations for press respresentative Juventa Sartavičienė

“Our clinic is open to all immigrants. Of course, if for example a patient is able to communicate only in Arabic language, it may be difficult to find a doctor who speaks this language. It is worth mentioning that most doctors, especially younger employees in Santaros clinic can communicate in at least one foreign language. If a doctor has been unable to speak in the same language as a patient, team members are always ready to support while helping them understand each other. Sometimes patients arrive with a personal translator as well. I remember that once there was an incident in the emergency services department. Woman of Arabic origin arrived at the hospital because she had pain in the stomach area, but refused to be treated by a male doctor. Unfortunately, there was no female doctor on duty that night.  The patient went to another hospital for treatment. I understand that beliefs sometimes sre more important, but the patient should also understand that all doctors on duty are asexual.  The main goal of the doctor is to provide the best treatment possible, independently from patients gender or religious beliefs.

Moroccan doctor: ” To be cured in Lithuania is a real heaven”

Immigrant from Morocco Abderrahmane Bouboual (31) has been living in Lithuania for four years. He finished medical studies in his homeland yet is able to communicate in the fluent Lithuanian language as well as work as a paramedic in Panevėžys. Additionally, he studies stomach surgery in Lithuanian language in Vilnius University and works as a practitioner for “Santaros” clinic. A member of Islam religion is honest – it was challenging for him to become a certified doctor in Lithuania. Abderrahmane also wants to share some bits of advice for patients unable to communicate in Lithuanian language.

What does it mean to be a Muslim immigrant doctor in Lithuania? 

First, it is important to learn Lithuanian language and pass national Lithuanian language exam. Otherwise, one can only dream about a doctor’s license. The fact that I am Muslim and my appearance is different from locals is only an advantage. So far, I have never met a patient who wouldn’t trust me. It’s quite an opposite- everyone remembers me (laughing). A big advantage is my ability to speak Arabic, English and French languages. Colleagues always ask for my help, when patients speaking those languages arrive. I even had to translate from the Arabic language a few times.

“In Morocco, it’s hard to find defibrillator and in Lithuania every ambulance has it”

Are Moroccan and Lithuanian healthcare systems very different?

Your healthcare system has a high ranking. For example, in Morocco, it’s hard to find defibrillator and in Lithuania every ambulance has it. In Morocco and some other Arabic countries, healthcare is really expensive. It doesn’t mean that people will be left without needed treatment, but without a private insurance, it is possible to get a treatment only in poor hospitals. I tell to all immigrants that it is heaven to receive a health treatment in Lithuania.

What would your advice be for immigrants who do noat speak Lithuanian language, but need a medical treatment? 

First, there is no reason to be afraid. Almost in every hospital is a member of staff who is able to communicate in a foreign language. But it can difficult when people can talk only Arabic for example (laughing).

How would you comment on a situation, when a woman of a Muslim belief required to get an appointment with a female doctor in an emergency department in Vilnius?

If to talk seriously, there is not a big number of Muslim immigrants in Lithuania for hospitals to adopt to their specific needs. And also, it was a national hospital and it was an accident that on that specific evening there was no woman working in there. On the other hand, if a woman is gender-oriented when choosing a doctor, it would be wiser to visit a private hospital. 

“Lithuanian medics are high moral people
who would never insult other because of a different culture or religion”

Do you have plans of moving to West Europe, where salaries for doctors are much higher than in Lithuania?

My response would be negative for the moment. I am very happy to live in Lithuania. Money does not bring happiness.