Pakistan, which is dealing with the aftermath of a devastating earthquake, has taken up a Czech offer of humanitarian aid. A spokesman for the Foreign Ministry said a special plane carrying a fifteen-member medical team would be ready to leave the Czech Republic around mid-day on Wednesday. The doctors and nurses are expected to join one of the field hospitals already working in the region. The plane will be loaded with sleeping bags, surgical equipment, medicine, food, and items for disinfection and water purification.
Czech Prime Minister Jiri Paroubek has stated he does not expect any change in good Czech-German relations under Angela Merkel, Germany's new incoming chancellor. Mr Paroubek described Mrs Merkel as a very "realistic" politician. Continuity in Czech-German foreign policy under Germany's new grand coalition could be expected, he said, also because the Social Democrats (SPD) were expected to fill the foreign ministry post.
The leaders of the Czech governing coalition have agreed on setting up a commission to investigate the privatization of the petrochemicals firm Unipetrol, going back to the company's founding in the early 90s. The ruling Social Democrats are suspected of having taken bribes and sold Unipetrol to PKN Orlen of Poland under highly unfavourable conditions for the Czech Republic. A Polish Parliamentary commission investigating the circumstances of the privatization recently suggested that the Czech Republic had lost billions of crowns in the process.
Private doctors, pharmacies and hospitals should start receiving overdue reimbursement payments from the largest Czech insurance company VZP within a week, according to Jan Jelinek the deputy chairman of the Private Doctors Association. The government recently earmarked 3.8 billion crowns in emergency aid to help stabilize the cash-flow problems in the health sector, but critics of the government say the problem cannot be resolved without far-reaching structural reforms. The money crisis in the health sector was brought to a head last Thursday when private physicians held a one day strike to protest the poor payment morale of insurance companies, particularly VZP.
Wednesday is expected to be clear to partly cloudy with day temperatures between 14 and 18 degrees Celsius.
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