Dental Tourism – Macedonia
Macedonia, officially the Republic of Macedonia, is a country in the Balkan Peninsula in Southeast Europe. It is one of the successor states of the former Yugoslavia, from which it declared independence in 1991. It became a member of the United Nations in 1993, but, as a result of an ongoing dispute with Greece over the use of the name "Macedonia", was admitted under the provisional description the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (sometimes abbreviated as FYROM and FYR Macedonia), a term that is also used by international organizations such as the European Union, the Council of Europe and NATO.
The country's geography is defined primarily by mountains, valleys, and rivers. The capital and largest city, Skopje, is home to roughly a quarter of the nation's 2.06 million inhabitants. The majority of the residents are ethnic Macedonians, a South Slavic people. Albanians form a significant minority at around 25%, followed by Turks, Romani, Serbs, and others.
Macedonia has a transitional climate from Mediterranean to continental. The summers are hot and dry, and the winters are moderately cold. There are three main climatic zones in the country: temperate Mediterranean, mountainous, and mildly continental. The majority of Macedonia has a moderate continental climate with warm and dry summers and relatively cold and wet winters.
The last official estimate from 2009 population gives a figure of 2,050,671. According to the last census data, the largest groups in the country are the ethnic Macedonians. The second largest groups are the Albanians who dominated much of the northwestern part of the country, and are discriminated against. Following them, Turks are the third biggest ethnic group of the country where official census data put them close to 80,000 and unofficial estimates suggest numbers between 170,000 and 200,000. Some unofficial estimates indicate that in the Republic of Macedonia, there are possibly up to 260,000 Romani.
Eastern Orthodoxy is the majority faith of the Republic of Macedonia, making up 65% of the population, the vast majority of who belong to the Macedonian Orthodox Church. Various other Christian denominations account for 0.4% of the population. Muslims constitute 33.3% of the population. Most Muslims are Albanians, Turks, or Romani, although few are Macedonian Muslims. The remaining 1.4% was determined to be "unaffiliated" by a 2010 Pew Research estimation.
Recently enacted legislation has partially implemented the EU’s regulatory framework for communications, setting the scene for competition although the incumbent still dominates. Internet and broadband penetration are both low but are expected to grow due to increased focus on the sector by the incumbent. The mobile market has experienced strong growth and has recently surpassed 50% penetration. Mobile data services are available and digital terrestrial TV trials have been launched.
The government plans to open free, state owned internet café’s in the major towns across the country by the end of the year. Most Macedonians seem to approve of the decision. Many complain that internet use is still too expensive for them. Statistics put Macedonia on the bottom of the list when it comes to internet use in Europe. Only about 20% of the population is internet users. Sweden, Switzerland, Portugal and other countries on the top of the list have around 70% of Internet penetration.
There are two mobile network operators in Macedonia. One.vip: founded on Oct. 1, 2015 and headquartered at Skopje, Macedonia. Services provided are GSM (900 MHz), EDGE, UMTS (2100 MHz), HSPA+, LTE (800/1800 MHz). There are 1.161 million subscribers in 2015. 55% of the company share is owned by Telekom Austria and remaining 45% by Telekom Slovenije.
Telekom (Makedonski Telekom AD): founded in 1997 and headquartered at Skopje, Macedonia. Services provided are GSM (900 MHz), GPRS, EDGE, UMTS (2100 MHz), HSDPA, LTE (1800 MHz). There are 1.138 million subscribers in 2015. The company share is owned by Magyar Telekom.
Macedonia is a multi-ethnic and multilingual country determined to be a member of the European family. Internationalization has played a key role in this process, becoming one of the main drivers of the linguistic diversity exerted by the use of English.
A number of foreign languages are spoken in Macedonia including English, French, German, and Serbo-Croatian. English is more popular among the Macedonian youth and is growing in popularity in the country. English classes are offered in the educational institutions of the nation. German and Serbo-Croatian are also spoken by the younger generation of the country. A large section of the Macedonian society also has knowledge of French, German, Serbo-Croatian, and Russian.
The Constitution mandates free and compulsory primary and secondary education in the Republic of Macedonia, and the Law on Primary Education specifies that all children from 6 to 15 years of age attend school for a compulsory 9 years. The Law on High School Education specifies that all adolescents from the ages of 15 - 19 must attend high school for 4 years (or 3 years - depending on the type of school).
Elementary education lasts for eight years leading to the Certificate for Completed Elementary Education. Secondary school education is provided by high schools, technical and other vocational schools, and art secondary schools. In the second half of the fourth year, pupils must write a project (Maturska Tema) and defend it and pass a written examination in their mother tongue and literature and an oral examination in a given subject of the curriculum.
The technical and other vocational schools train for technical and other professions. The final examination in vocational education (four-year and three-year courses) consists in the elaboration of a theme or practical examination and a written examination in the mother tongue and literature. The Certificates of the technical schools give access to the entrance examinations at the relevant faculties and colleges. The certificate of vocational schools gives access to the entrance examinations at the relevant faculties and colleges after passing the different examinations. The Schools of Arts/Music/Ballet offer a four-year course. Students enter these schools by taking an entrance examination. At the end of their studies, they take a final examination and can enroll in universities. The International Baccalaureate gives access to the entrance examinations to all faculties and colleges.
Higher education study lasts from two to six years. Courses for vocational training on a college level are provided and last for two years, whereas courses offered at schools ranging between four and six years are in the domain of higher education.
There are two major universities in the Republic of Macedonia: Sts. Cyril and Methodius University in Skopje and the St. Clement of Ohrid University in Bitola. The third and newest institution of higher learning, University of Tetovo.
Three institutions in the Republic of Macedonia are devoted to scientific work: the Macedonian Academy of Sciences and Arts, the Sts. Cyril and Methodius University in Skopje, and St. Clement of Ohrid University in Bitola. The Macedonian Academy of Sciences and Arts, established in 1967, is the highest scholarly institution in the country.
Higher education is provided by colleges and pedagogical academies offering two-year courses, whereas university faculties (univerzitet) and institutes offer four to six-year courses in a range of disciplines. Upon successful completion of higher education courses at faculties/institutes, students are awarded a diploma with professional titles. The exact duration of studies leading to higher level diplomas depends on the type of faculty.
The Ministry of Education and Science is responsible for formal recognition of studies completed and credentials awarded in foreign countries. The ministry questions relating to the recognition of foreign credentials and studies in higher education are addressed.
Postgraduate study courses are organized as specialist studies in the field of medicine, which may last up to 4 years, and as Master's degree study programs, which last 2 years. The duration of postgraduate study courses varies from one year of studies leading to a higher/graduate diploma to two years for a Master's degree.
A doctorate degree is granted upon successful defense of a scientific work. After a Master's degree has been obtained, the law on higher education sets forth the introduction of Doctorate studies, in addition to primary degree courses and postgraduate programs, as a way to obtain a Doctoral degree. The right to admission, (i.e., the registering of a Doctoral dissertation), may be granted to an individual in possession of a Master's degree or a higher/graduate diploma in medicine, provided the Doctoral candidate has publicly defended a thesis at the Master's level.
The Dentistry Profession
In 2010, the number of active dentists registered by the Dental Chamber of Macedonia was 2,240. There are various specialists (Paedodontics and Preventive Dentistry, Orthodontics, Prosthodontics, Oral Surgery, Specialists in General Dentistry, Oral Maxillofacial Surgery, Conservative Dentistry, Endodontics). In addition, in 2005, there were 1,205 dental auxiliaries who were qualified dental technicians, qualified dental chairside assistants (dental nurses), and trainee dental technicians and dental chairside assistants.
There are three government-financed Faculties of Dental Medicine (Dental Schools) in Macedonia; the oldest is in Skopje, the others are in Tetovo and Shtip. In 2010, only the Dental Faculty in Skopje provided clinical education; the other two provided theoretical education. There is also one privately financed Dental Faculty in Skopje. The students who attend all four dental faculties pay fees; the fees for private one are much higher.
The oldest and the biggest is the public Faculty of Dental Medicine in Skopje. Beside undergraduate courses there are also postgraduate and doctoral programmes. Over the years, 3,551 dentists have graduated from the Skopje Dental Faculty, of whom 178 dentists hold a Master of Science degree and 91 a PhD.
About 200 students enter the Dental Faculties each year. The duration of undergraduate study is five years and the curricula have been changed to meet the requirements of credit transfer through the Bologna Process.
Each graduate student is granted a diploma as a “Doctor of Dental Medicine”. Following graduation, there is a 12-month period of vocational training. On completion of this period, there is a final examination, which must be passed for independent practice as a general dental practitioner and in order to obtain a work license. The competent institution for the final state examination is the Dental Chamber of Macedonia.
Continuing professional development is considered obligatory for improving the competence and capabilities of a dentist. The process of compulsory continuing education started a few years ago and many seminars, congresses and courses are organized by the public Faculty of Dental Medicine in Skopje, the Macedonian Dental Association, and other established associations. Participation in continuing professional education is confirmed by the Dental Chamber by awarding points. Dentists should get 20 points each year in order to relicense every seven years. That means attending 2-3 meetings (8-15 points each; lecturers are awarded more points, whereas “passive” attendees earn eight points). Each meeting is usually of 3-4 hours’ duration.
Currently, specialist education takes place only at the public Faculty of Dental Medicine in Skopje. The following specializations are recognized: orthodontics, paediatric and preventive dentistry, prosthodontics, oral surgery, restorative dentistry and endodontics, periodontics, primary oral health care, and maxillofacial surgery.
There are plans to add the specialization of oral medicine in near future. There are three subspecialisations in implantology, maxillofacial and reconstructive prosthodontics, and prosthodontics for children.
Getting There For Dental Care
Macedonia has two international airports, the main airport in the capital, the Skopje "Alexander the Great Airport" (SKP) and another, the Ohrid "St.Paul the Apostle Airport" (OHD). There are around 150 flights a week from different European cities to Skopje. From the low-cost airlines, only WizzAir flies directly between Skopje and London (Luton Airport (LTN)), Barcelona (Barcelona–El Prat Airport (BCN)), Venice (Treviso Airport (TSF)), and Milan-Bergamo (Orio al Serio International Airport (BGY)) in Italy.
Regular train services used to connect Macedonia to Greece in the South but all international trains to Greece were stopped until further notice in February 2011. Services to Serbia in the North are still running. A cheap way of travelling to or from Macedonia might be the Balkan Flexipass.
If travelling by car, be sure your Green Card has an uncancelled "MK" box. The guards almost always want to see it, unlike those in Serbia and Greece. Try to get a good map of Macedonia and/or try to be able to read Cyrillic letters. Although most street signs are printed in Cyrillic and Latin letters it can be helpful to have a little knowledge of the Cyrillic alphabet, especially in small towns. The border guards often make a big deal about having the original documents for the car (no copies). The enforcement rate about this is 50-50 and if you have a rental car this can be a problem as you usually have a copy. Tourists have been told in the past to drive back several hundred kilometers over this detail by certain power hungry guards.
Eurobus is an international coach operator based in Macedonia that has almost daily tours from Austria, Germany, Switzerland, Italy and Slovenia. Stops in the major cities Skopje, Tetovo, Ohrid, Vienna. Prices from €60 and possible to get student discount. There are also bus connections from Serbia, Kosovo, Bulgaria, Slovenia, Croatia and Turkey to Skopje.
Skopje, the capital of Macedonia, is on the banks of the Vardar River in the historic core of the Balkans. Disasters have historically beset the city, none worse than the earthquake of 1963, which destroyed much of Skopje. But there is still much in the rebuilt city to admire, with its minarets, mosques, and Turkish-style domes in the old town.
All the major sights unfold as you make your way out of the train depot, walking northwesterly toward the old city, with its 15th-century Turkish Baths and other attractions. The ancient Oriental Bazaar is worth an hour of your time, as you shop for regional handicrafts or watch them being made at this atmospheric souk.
Near the Turkish Bridge is Skopje's best museum, the Municipal Art Gallery. The Museum of Macedonia, filled with regional artifacts, is also worth a visit. The Church of Sveti Spas is visited mainly for its impressive collection of icons, many from the 1700's, and there is also a local mosque, Mustafa Pasha Mosque, where you can scale the minaret for the most panoramic view of Skopje. Across the street from this mosque lies Fort Kale, now in ruins but dating from the 10th century.
Outside the capital, the most scenic rail route is a 2-hour trip to the town of Bitola, which is relatively undiscovered and well worth a night or two. You'll definitely feel you're in Turkey here, and there are many relics to explore, including the Roman ruins of Heraclea Lyncestis along with an early Christian palace. Other highlights -- all on Marshal Tito Square (named for Yugoslavia's former dictator) -- are the Mosa Pijade Art Gallery, installed in an old mosque, and the 16th-century Bezistan Bazaar. Wander at your leisure through the district of bazaars known as Stara Charshiya, making your way to the city market.
The greatest attraction of Macedonia is not on a rail line but can be reached by frequent buses from Bitola. The old town of Ohrid is a charmer filled with red-roofed houses, sidewalk cafes, and rustic fish restaurants surrounding the world's second deepest lake after Lake Baikal in Russia. Ohrid is acclaimed as one of the true beauty spots in all of Europe, and UNESCO has declared it a World Heritage Site. Trip time from Bitola to Ohrid is 90 minutes (via bus).
Although you'll want to spend most of your precious time on the lake, you can stroll the streets of Ohrid for hours, taking in such notable churches as Sveti Kilment and Sveti Sofija before heading west to the Amphitheater constructed by the Romans. After a visit, walk over to the walls of the old citadel for a panoramic view of the district before continuing south to the ruins of an ancient basilica whose mosaics can still be seen.