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The country’s health system, once a source of national pride, has fallen on hard times. In the past, foreigners would be treated at hospitals or polyclinics free-of-charge. The financial crisis and the cutback in state supports means that uninsured foreigners (there is reciprocity with the EU national health insurance) are charged according to a complex scale which lists every conceivable ailment and treatment. Many physicians and dentists now have their own private practices while also continuing to work for the state. While the physical appearance of the country’s public health facilities may look off-putting, the level of professional services is high.

For over the counter drugs, try one of the more well-stocked of the ubiquitous Bulgarian pharmacies, or apteca. Be prepared to point at or pantomime what you want, if you don’t speak Bulgarian. In addition to drugs, most pharmacies sell cosmetics, toiletries, diet products, baby diapers and feminine protection.

For a more serious malady, go to one of the clinics or policlinics in most towns. In Sofia, a good all-around clinic to try is Vel Vil. Their location is on 21 Kniaz Boris I Str., near The National Palace of Culture (NDK), tel. (02) 521 841.

For emergency medical treatment, of course, find the nearest hospital. Sofia’s emergency hospital is called Pirogov – presumably where the ambulance will take you if you call 150. If you have the option, a taxi would probably be the more dependable means of being transported quickly.

Supposedly there are English speaking-doctors at the National Institute of Military Medicine (“Military Hospital”), located on St George Sofiski Street.

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