Hundreds of health-care professionals employed in North Macedonia's public hospitals have rallied in protest of increasing verbal and physical assaults on hospital personnel by patients and relatives.
Health Minister Venko Filipce joined the protests on September 18 in Skopje organized by the Association of Specialists and Young Doctors, which demanded better security at hospitals.
The group, composed mainly of doctors and nurses, complained of staffing shortages at hospitals and an overall disintegrating health-care system in the country that has eroded trust between patients and doctors.
Filipce acknowledged the problems, saying they are "complex" and require "work to restore trust...and the status of health-care providers needs to be further improved."
The medical association said it had recorded 15 cases of violence at state-run hospitals this year, leaving at least one doctor badly injured.
In the past decade, there were five such cases, according to the agency.
Solicitation of bribes at hospitals angers patients, the association admitted, adding that the government could address the problem by increasing the salaries of hospital workers.
"The country is facing challenges in achieving better health and well-being because of the fragmented governance and organization of health services," a World Health Organization report published this year said.
"A previous assessment identified the shortage of health workers and the need to more strongly emphasize primary health care to improve the quality, continuity and overall performance of health services for noncommunicable diseases as key interventions needed."