Stanimir Hasardzhiev

Stanimir Hasardzhiev is one of the founders and current Chairperson of the Bulgarian National Patients’ Organization (NPO) – the biggest patients’ umbrella organization in Bulgaria. Founded in 2010 by a handful of patient leaders by 2015 the membership of NPO includes over 70 disease-specific member organizations representing patients from across the country.

Dr. Hasardzhiev has devoted himself to the work in the patients’ advocacy sector and in the defense of patients’ rights. In 2011, he represented the Bulgarian patients in the Supervisory Board of the National Health Insurance Fund. Since 2013 he has been on the Members’ Board of the European Patients’ Forum and since 2014 is the Secretary General of the European Patient Access Partnership (PACT), a multistakeholder platform working to assess, evaluate and develop measures to improve access to quality health care for all European patients. 

In early 2015 NPO initiated the establishment of a Bulgarian Partnership for Health, which follows the inclusive model of PACT, wherein all stakeholders in health can contribute to improving access to quality healthcare in Bulgaria. The new entity was established as a permanent consultative body to the Council of Ministers and the Chairperson is the Minister of Healthcare, with Dr. Hasardzhiev as the Secretary of the Partnership. 

He has authored and developed a number of awareness and advocacy initiatives focusing on socially important diseases – program “Protection”, “High cholesterol kills”, antiabortion program “It’s up to you”, cervical cancer campaign “Tell someone”, “A few kilograms younger”, “Treat osteoporosis!” and many others.

Dr. Hasardzhiev has many Bulgarian and international awards, such as the Best Media Award for the World Hepatitis Day campaign in 2008 “Am I number 12?”. In 2011 National Patients’ Organization was awarded a prize by Effie Worldwide Awards for its campaign “If the healthcare system doesn’t hear you…”.

Cochlear implants are just one example of how life-changing innovation can change people’s lives. Their impact is profound. Deaf children who receive one of these devices at a young age can develop normal language skills, allowing them to hit the same development milestones as their peers. But imagine your child’s hearing was saved by a cochlear implant only for the device to fail, perhaps at the age of six or seven years. They are at risk of abruptly losing their hearing, falling behind in school and suffering socially. What would you do? Perhaps you would expect your health insurance (public or private) to replace or fix the failed device. If that did not work, you might consider paying out of pocket. If it cost thousands of euro you may have to cancel a holiday or buy a cheaper car. You’d do whatever it takes. Now, think how you would solve this problem if you lived in Bulgaria, a European Union Member State where a typical salary is €400 per month. This was the reality faced by some parents in my country. Several years ago, after a long but successful campaign by patient advocates and parents of deaf children, the national health insurance fund agreed to reimburse cochlear implants. But there was a catch: while the surgery to implant the device is covered, maintenance was not. Devices need their batteries changed and sometimes they need to be fixed or replaced. Families went to all kinds of extraordinary lengths to save their children’s hearing in cases where the device needed to be maintained. Many got a second job, others sold family property, some launched fundraising campaigns and a few left the country in search of work in countries where cochlear implants were fully covered – countries where their children would be able...