On the “Barrikada” street in the outskirts of Berat, an unnamed bar-café keeps the doors open in anticipation of the few customers. The gray room and tile booth is empty Wednesday night, except for a table on the sidewalk, sitting with a bottle of beer in the hands of owner-Sali Fetiu and a peer.
Built on the footsteps of a former battalion several years after the collapse of the communist regime, the bar nourished the hopes of Sali Feti’s family for more than a decade, as the only source of income.
However, this modest coffee in the city of Berat is today the origin of the company “Evita” sh.pk, the fresh winner of one of the biggest public-private concessions in the history of Albanian medicine.
On October 20, the Ministry of Health announced the “Evita shpk” winner of the concession for “hemodialysis service”, giving it a 10-year contract worth about ALL 8.6 billion ($ 86 million) in total.
“Evita” sh.pk is a pharmaceutical product company based in Tirana, established on May 14, 2013 at the National Registration Center, NRC, with sole proprietor Majlinda Fetiu and administrator Elona Saraçin.
BIRN tried to contact Majlinda Fetiu’s shareholder through the home and mobile phone, without being able to reach it. At the family bar on the outskirts of Berat, her husband, Sali Fetiu, explained that Majlinda had fled to Tirana due to health problems.
Sali Fetiu admitted that the company on behalf of her husband had obtained the concession, but refused to give explanations about her activity.
“I talked so much and so. I’m with 6 school class am, “he said, waving his hand with annoyance.
Asked about the experience and the capabilities of the winning company, “Evita” Ltd, also the administrator Elona Saraçi also declined to give explanations.
“According to the draft contract we are affiliated with the contracting authority (Ministry of Health), any information about this procedure / contract is confidential and a condition for contract loss,” Saraçi said through a telephone message.
Contacted by BIRN, the Ministry of Health refused to comment on what the advantages of “Evita” ltd were, which led him to the top of the concession race.
While it remains unclear what criteria “Evita” ltd was selected winner against eight other competitors in the competition, BIRN has managed to find out that the company owner, Majlinda Fetiu, is resident in Berat and does not exercise any occupation related to health .
With no apparent connection to the field of medicine, Majlinda Fetiu still has blood ties with the American hospital administrator in Tirana, Klodian Allajbeu. According to BIRN data, it turns out that Fetiu is the daughter of Uncle Allajbeu.
Unlike Majlinda Fetiu, the company’s manager, Elona Saraçi, has studied Pharmacy at the University of Tirana. Prior to appointing the administrator of “Evita” Ltd, Saraçi worked for a pharmaceutical company and for the American Hospital.
Evita’s precipitate ascension
Procedures for granting the concession of hemodialysis were opened on May 25, 2015, through a call that the Ministry of Health published in the Public Procurement Agency. According to the announcement document, the service will be granted with concession in five centers other than Tirana; in Shkodra, Lezha, Korca, Vlora and Elbasan.
According to the announcement in PPA, the concession will have a 10-year term worth ALL 8.6 billion, which will be covered by the Compulsory Health Insurance Fund.
“Evita” sh.pk entered the competition and was the winner, although it is unclear what expertise and capabilities it possesses to carry out the hemodialysis process for hundreds of chronic kidney disease patients.
According to the NRC data, “Evita” was established on May 14, 2013 by Majlinda Fetiu with an initial capital of 100 thousand ALL. Although he has lived without disconnection from Berat near the husband who manages the bar in the “Barrikada” neighborhood, Majlinda Fetiu seems to have managed to empower her company in Tirana.
Two years after the registration, the company declares at the NRC that it owns 30 100 000 ALL of assets. In its balance sheet it is noted that profit during 2013 was about 5.8 million ALL. In 2014, this profit has increased to about 35 million ALL.
Although not well-known in the pharmaceutical and medical market in Tirana, the footprint of the company “Evita” sh.pk came out in the tender for supplying medicines to the University Hospital Center. Data provided by BIRN in the PPA show that this company has won a tender with a limit fund of 18.8 million ALL and was disqualified from a similar tender due to an abnormally low bid.
“Evita” sh.pk has stated at the NRC several addresses of the exercise of its activity, where the main base results to be in Kashar, in the 8th kilometer of the Tirana-Durrës highway. However, one of its declared addresses is located on the second floor of the American Hospital in the Lapraka neighborhood of Tirana.
Addressed by BIRN, American Hospital Administrator, Klodian Allajbeu did not answer if the company he represents has contact with the company “Evita shpk”, the winner of the hemodialysis concession. He also refused to explain if he had family ties with Majlinda Fetiu.
Dialysis with concession
The dialysis process for the patients with kidney problems is covered by the Compulsory Health Insurance Fund for 100% for about 900 patients benefiting from this service for years. However, chronically ill people have repeatedly complained of queues at hospital hospitals or taking tour service.
To resolve these anomalies, the Ministry of Health launched the idea of public / private partnership a year ago to improve this service. On May 25, 2015, the idea was publicly announced in the form of a concession that would improve the conditions of five hemodialysis centers and would provide a high standard service.
As requested by BIRN in July 2015, the Ministry of Health clarified that the project of awarding this concession service was aimed at reconstructing the two centers at which dialysis was conducted in Shkodra and Vlora and the creation of three new centers which would be located near the hospitals of Lezha, Korça and Elbasan.
Another goal under the Ministry of Health was to avoid social costs, as patients who needed hemodialysis would be able to do it three times a week near their home.
“The economic operator will cover the construction of 5 centers, equipment with dialysis equipment, functional centers and equipment with medical staff and support staff. The health system in the country will remain 5 functional centers, “Bean Thanas Goga’s media advisor told BIRN.
According to Goga, the winning company would select the one that offered the lowest price and the highest quality. But the documents provided by BIRN indicate that “Evita” Ltd has the second highest bid of competitors in the concession, while it remains unclear what are the guarantees it provides for the quality of dialysis service.
The data published in the PPA show that 9 companies were involved in the concession race, three of which were disqualified at the initial stage due to no bidding. The six remaining companies in the competition are the “2T” company with a bid of 10.080 lek per unit, “Blindi” company with 10.458 lekë, “Evita” with 11.203 lekë, “Diamed Skopje” with 11.095 lekë, Italian company “Spindial” with offer 13,180 lekë and “Hygea Hospital Tirana” with 10 740 lekë.
Although presented as an innovation, public-private partnerships for hemodialysis are a practice that has been pursued since 2012 in our country. Data provided by BIRN show that due to overload, public hospitals have transferred some of the patients and budget funds to the US Hospital and the Hygea Hospital Tirana over three years.
During 2014, the Hygea Hospital performed 28 transactions with the State Treasury due to contracts with QSUT in the amount of 239 450 910 ALL. The American hospital has received three times more funds for treating patients with hemodialysis.
Data provided by the state treasury indicate that the American Hospital has entered into contracts with QSUT, the Fier Hospital and the Military Hospital, benefiting 865 668 286 ALL from the state budget in 2014, which is almost identical to the money that “Evita” shpk is expected to take in a year from the newly-acquired hemodialysis concession. BIRN