2005-06 International Policy Fellow
Public Health and the Roma working group
According to law, the ultimate decision on whether a proposed treatment should be used or not, lies with the patient. However, in Hungary, neither Parliament nor the Ministry of Health have initiated any enquiry into the way provisions on patients' rights are being translated into practice. Hungarian legal provisions concerning patients' rights are comparable to those of any legal system with long democratic traditions. However, there is a huge gap between law and practice, a gap which can be explained in relation to the paternalistic culture inherited from the previous regime that survived the collapse of communism.
The paper asks what kind of institutional rules could help make available the new procedures created as a result of major progress in the bio-sciences. In addition, it endeavors to evaluate where Hungary is now with regard to the rights of patients, in particular, the right to their being able to give informed consent. It concludes by making some policy proposals on how to overcome the present, conflict-ridden situation and states that, it is of fundamental importance that patients' rights organizations are able to flourish. This requires public funding and a readiness on the part of the Legislature and the Executive to engage in an ongoing dialog with civil associations.