For the last three decades Dr. Floarea Ciupitu has been a family doctor in Gangiova, a village in south-west Romania. Bucharest based photographer Ioana Moldovan followed her through her daily life, and her photo series A Country Doctor and Her Calling is both an inspiring example of a doctor’s devotion to her profession and a means to raise awareness of the challenges doctors face when working in rural communities in Romania.
With a problematic health care system, none of the numerous health ministers that have been in office since the fall of the communism has so far managed to get Western care standards for patients. As young Romanian doctors leave the country in search for better opportunities abroad, Romania is facing a serious doctor shortage.
Romania has a population of almost 20 million people. Half of the population lives in the countryside, yet there are considerably less doctors willing to work in these areas. The parity between city doctors and the ones working in rural areas is 2 to 1, leaving the countryside doctors overworked, caring for a number of patients much higher than the recommended average. Besides this, unstable software makes communication with the central servers of the State Insurance Company more difficult, translating into longer waiting time for their patients. Besides this, due to poor infrastructure, access to healthcare in the villages is generally difficult.
Dr. Ciupitu is one example of a doctor following her calling despite all difficulties. She lives in modest conditions and oversees about 1700 registered patients. On week days she sleeps above her practice in a tiny room. There is no electricity on the staircase; she uses a tiny flashlight to go up the stairs where she sleeps on an old hospital bed. She wanted to be a doctor since she was a little girl. Now aged 62, her devotion to her profession is unaltered.