Wednesday, 2 November 2022

Zagorje, Međimurje, Samobor and More - The Northwestern Kajkavian Dialect

November the 2nd, 2022 - Iva Lukezic, an expert in the Croatian language and in dialects, states that what's known as the Zagorje-Međimurje dialect or the Northwestern Kajkavian dialect is one of the main dialects of the wider Kajkavian dialect. This manner of speaking is primarily characterised by the preservation of what's known as ''basic Kajkavian accentuation''.

We've looked into enough dialects and subdialects of the Croatian language to realise there's much more to the language spoken in this country than what's now known as standard Croatian. From the Dubrovnik subdialect with its Florentine and Venetian roots, and learning about Kajkavian and Chakavian, to old Dalmatian which is sadly dying with the last generations to speak it, the regional way of speaking across Croatia is extremely varied for such a small country.

Did you know that in some cases it gets a bit more complicated than the three ''main ways'' of speaking (Kajkavian, Chakavian and Shtokavian)? There of course regionalities and variations within each of those, too, and let's not even get started on the words only spoken on certain islands. Let's take a look at the Northwestern Kajkavian dialect, which encompasses several areas of modern Croatian territory.

It is spoken in the border areas of Croatia from Slovenia and Hungary (around Kotoriba below Nagykanizsa and in Prekodravlje) all the way to the City of Zagreb. The Northwestern Kajkavian dialect can be divided into several sub-dialects; spoken in Samobor, Međimurje, Varaždin-Ludbreš, Bednjan-Zagorje and Gornjosutlan. There are some linguists and other experts in the Croatian language and in dialects who consider each of the ways of speaking in the aforementioned locations to be dialects in their own right, and not merely subdialects.

Veering off to be even more specific for a second, it's worth mentioning that the local Bednja(n) dialect is considered to actually be the oldest form of the Kajkavian proto-dialect. 

The Bednjan dialect is spoken by the inhabitants of the municipality of Bednja, which, in addition to Bednja itself, encompasses the areas of Pleš, Šaša, Vrbno, Trakošćan (which you'll likely know of thanks to its stunning castle), Benkovec, Rinkovec, Prebukovje, and so on. The Bednjan dialect isn't completely isolated, and most of its main features are also found in certain neighbouring areas like Lepoglava, Kamenica, and especially in Jesenje.

In scientific circles, Bednja speech is unfairly neglected, which makes it all the more important to mention the professor and dialectologist Josip Jedvaj, born in Šaša, who published the most precise and comprehensive study on the Bednjan speech so far in the Croatian Dialectological Collection, which is considered one of the best descriptions of one of the organic forms of speech of this part of the country. The people of the municipality of Bednja named a district school in Vrbno and a street in Bednja after him as a thank you for his efforts to preserve the Bednja language and not let it be lost to the often cruel hands of time, as has been the case for many words spoken in old Dalmatian.

Given the fact that the Northwestern Kajkavian dialect encompasses a fair few places, some (if not most) of which will have variations in their own locally spoken words, we'll look at some more standard words used in this dialect, some of which are still used, and some of which might well be being forgotten in areas like Međimurje and beyond. Some can still be heard in Zagreb, even. I'll provide their standard Croatian and English translations.

Astal - table/stol

Bajka - a thick winter coat/deblji zimski kaput

Cafuta - a prostitute/prostitutka (kurva)

De - where/gdje

Eroplan - plane/avion

Fajna - good looking or pretty/lijepa, fina ili zgodna

Gda - when/kad(a)

Harijada - when something is busy, unorganised or overcrowded/guzva, nered ili cirkus

Jagar - hunter/lovac

Kalamper (kalampir) - potato/krumpir

Laboda - ball/lopta

Marelo - umbrella/kisobran

Nemorut - someone who is useless, lazy or good for nothing/beskoristan ili lijen

Ober - above/iznad

Palamuditi - to talk shit or say stupid things/pricati gluposti

Raca - duck/patka

Senje or senji - dreams/snovi

Tolvaj - thief/lopov

Untik dosta - more than enough/vise nego dovoljno

Venodjati - to have sex or make love/voditi ljubav

Zajtrak (sometimes zajtrek or zojtrak) - breakfast/dorucak

 

For more on the Croatian language, from learning how to swear in Croatian to learning about the various dialects, subdialects and history of the language, make sure to keep up with our language articles in our lifestyle section.

Wednesday, 2 November 2022

How to Croatia - Navigating The World of Croatian Health Insurance

November the 2nd, 2022 - For foreigners and even those with Croatian citizenship who are moving here, the stress of navigating the sometimes needlessly complicated world of Croatian health insurance tends to come as a surprise...

Nobody wants to think of themselves becoming unwell, developing a hernia or breaking a bone, but it happens. You might eat one too many oysters and need to be in extremely close proximity to a very well functioning toilet, you could jump off a rugged Adriatic cliff and land in a less than ideal position in the sea below, or you might step on the notorious ‘jež’. The jež, or sea hedgehog, isn’t some sort of mythical Croatian monster from times gone by, it is a mere black sea urchin, there are loads of them and they do nothing but sit around all day, but they don’t half pack a punch (or stab, which is more accurate) if you accidentally step on one. 

Health insurance in Croatia is regulated by HZZO, or in English, the Croatian Health Insurance Fund. Much like the rest of Europe, Croatia has a universal healthcare system with private options available too. This doesn’t mean that healthcare is free in Croatia, it isn’t, we all need to do our bit and pay into it to ensure we can all be cared for should we need to be.

Health insurance in Croatia is compulsory, which means everyone resident on the territory of Croatia should have a regulated compulsory health insurance status. That isn’t saying that we all do, many of us don’t, and much like many other ‘mandatory’ things in Croatia… well… the use of the term is a little skewed. That said, you should have it, if for no other reason than for your own peace of mind. 

So, who technically needs to be insured in Croatia?

Long story short - Everyone. Short story long - There are more complications to this than there needs to be, and there are 59 different categories of insured persons!

Let’s start with the basics. In Croatia, there are three types of healthcare coverage. One is obvezno (mandatory), the others are dodatno and dopunsko, which act as additional coverage on top of your obvezno insurance. Think of it in levels; 1) Obvezno 2) Dopunsko 3) Dodatno.

Universal healthcare coverage is the norm all over Europe, with the British NHS being a not perfect but absolutely enviable tax-based model where nothing is paid at all at the point of use regardless of what needs to be done. Croatia’s socialised health insurance system is similar in the sense that it is based entirely on the principles of solidarity, meaning that all residents of Croatia, be they foreign or Croatian, are expected to contribute to the fund according to their respective abilities to pay for it. Everyone is paying for everyone else, and for the system to exist, and in turn they receive healthcare services according to their needs, from the prescribing of antibiotics for that pesky trachea infection that makes you sound like a chain smoker to open heart surgery that you need because you quite literally are a chain smoker.

You don’t need to pay if you’re under 18 years of age, you’re incapable of living an independent life, if you’re a disabled member of the Croatian Armed Forces, or if you’re the direct family member of a missing or dead member of the Croatian Armed Forces.

There are some other exceptions with more detailed explanations, but assuming you’re a foreign resident, you’re highly unlikely to be any of the above, so I’ll move on and offer a brief look at what the different types of Croatian health insurance mean and include.

Obvezno zdravstveno osiguranje is the most basic of the basic must-haves in Croatia. It’s the one everyone living in Croatia is meant to have from HZZO. You don’t need it if you’re an EEA citizen or permanent EEA resident who is covered by national health insurance in another EEA member state. This goes back to what I mentioned previously about not being allowed to be insured in two EEA member states at the same time.

Dopunsko zdravstveno osiguranje is a bit like a beefed up version of obvezno. It’s supplemental and totally optional, and you can take out a policy either as a public or private health insurance policy. You can get it from either HZZO or even from a bank or independent insurer. It eliminates most copayments for medication prescriptions, visits to the doctor, diagnostic workups, tests, and hospital stays should you need hospitalisation for any reason. If you’re someone who is, for example, diabetic, or suffers from some other sort of chronic condition such as hypertension which needs constant medication and frequent monitoring, this would be a good option. Copayments in Croatia are small, but why pay them if you can avoid it?

Dodatno zdravstveno osiguranje is the top of the range when it comes to Croatian health insurance. It covers absolutely everything and isn’t on offer from HZZO but from independent insurers and banks. This policy covers preventive care, visits (as many as you need) to all kinds of specialists, additional treatments, any laboratory test you can imagine, and extended hospital visits should you (God forbid) need that. You won’t need to pay anything out of pocket whatsoever if this is your policy of choice, and once again, it’s great if you’re someone who does suffer from some sort of chronic ailment that needs medicating and/or a watchful eye kept on it.

Now we’ve covered that, you might be wondering how you enrol into HZZO

First, you need to find the HZZO office for your area of residence, a full list can be obtained by accessing hzzo.hr and selecting ‘English’ in the top right corner. Alternatively, you can ask at MUP during your residence procedure.

Once there, you’ll need to explain that you’re a resident in Croatia and you’d like to enrol for obvezno health insurance.

If you’re a citizen or permanent resident of the EEA and as such you have an EHIC, you technically do not need to enrol in HZZO because you shouldn’t be publicly insured in two EEA member states at the same time. You absolutely can enrol in HZZO should you so wish, but you’ll need to provide proof that you’re no longer insured by the other EEA country in question. This is where things can get tricky.

When Britain was part of the EEA, many, many British residents of Croatia had endless issues trying to enrol into the Croatian healthcare system because the NHS is not health insurance but a right automatically afforded to people born and living in the UK, and because the document HZZO wants (proof of no longer being insured in the UK) seems to be as elusive as the abominable snowman. Many people have never heard of such a document and have absolutely no idea what is being sought. Now the UK is no longer an EEA member state, that awkward problem is hopefully a thing of the past.

It’s technically HZZO which needs to seek this document, not you. If they ask you for it, let them know that you're not the one who needs to be chasing it, they are.

If you manage to bypass this requirement, or you’re simply not asked, and you’re an EEA citizen or permanent resident, you can be enrolled into the Croatian health insurance system. Your first step is filling in the form to sign up which will be given to you or be made readily available at the office. 

A back payment, for a year in which you weren’t even in Croatia…

This might sound utterly preposterous, and to many people it does appear quite ridiculous, but there’s logic here, so hear me out. Some people (such as those who aren’t being signed up to HZZO) by their employers, need to pay ‘back pay’ to HZZO for the previous year. So this is 12 months of premiums, all in one go. But I wasn’t even here?! I hear you cry. I know, it seems like a complete con, but the reason behind it is this: what if you turned up, enrolled for free, got hit by a bus on your way home and then needed major surgery? What if you have a chronic health condition you failed to mention and started eating the system out of house and home as it were? Insulin, blood thinners, inhalers, statins, the works! That wouldn’t be fair on the people paying into the system, while you’ve paid nothing and yet you’re reaping the rewards of a socialised medical system.

Of course, one sincerely hopes that they will never be hit by a bus, struck by lightning, attacked by a shark, be knocked unconscious by a falling brick or anything else of the sort, but these are things we unfortunately cannot predict, and nor can HZZO. If you have a chronic health condition which will require the use of the system for prescription medication and therapies, you should also be paying your part into the system in order to be on a level playing field with everyone else paying their contributions.

I truly understand that it might seem like an absolute con and a half to be asked for a document that nobody seems to have ever heard of, such as ‘release from health insurance in another EEA country’, and then once you’ve fought that battle, be asked to pay for the health insurance you would have needed to pay for had you been here over the past 12 months, but you didn’t and couldn’t have, because you were not here… Yeah, I’ll give you that, it seems a bit like someone is taking the Michael, as they say in England, but hopefully the above explanation makes it seem a bit more rational.

I’ve been hired by a Croatian company, do I need to go and enrol at HZZO?

No. Your employer is obliged by law to do this for you using what’s known as a T-2 application form. You don’t have anything to do with this process.

Getting a health insurance card

As soon as you finish enrolling at the HZZO office, or as soon as your employer is finished enrolling you, you’re insured. You’ll be given paper confirmation of that fact by the clerk, and you can use this if you do need medical help as proof of you being insured by HZZO. You will get a proper plastic card attesting to that fact in the mail eventually, this can take weeks to months to arrive, so don’t panic if it doesn’t turn up for a while, you’re insured regardless and it will.

How do I find a GP?

Got a cough that just won’t go? Eaten one too many seafood platters and become best mates with the toilet? Found a weird rash you can’t leave alone? Your GP needs to be your first port of call unless it is an emergency, in which case, well, the emergency room needs to be your first port of call. 

From ear infections to ingrown toenails and everything in between, GPs, or as they’re called in Croatia ‘family doctors’ (doktor opće medicine/obiteljski liječnik) are the ones who will prescribe the antibiotics, sprays, prescription ointments and so on. 

Most people have a GP, a paediatrician for their kids if they have them, a gynaecologist if you’re a woman, and of course, the one who tells you off for eating too many sweets - a dentist. 

Let’s not get ahead of ourselves with all of the different doctors. Here’s how to find and get registered as a new patient with a GP

HZZO’s website (hzzo.hr) has a list of GPs. You’ll need to go through the list of those in your area and call them to ask them if they’re taking on new patients. Alternatively, you can use word of mouth, which is worth its weight in gold in Croatia for just about everything. GPs can’t turn you down if they are taking on patients, which is good news. But be aware, they might not pick up the phone when you call, and the GPs with a great reputation among the local bakas (grandmothers) will likely not be able to take you on.

Once you find a GP and are accepted as a new patient, you’ll fill in a form which you’ll get from the doctor’s office, and then you’ll need to give it to the doctor. They then fill in their part, and send it off to HZZO. That’s it, you’re done.

Your GP will be the one you visit first with your health complaints which aren’t medical emergencies. They are qualified to run certain tests, and also to make a decision as to whether you need to be referred for more tests, scans, and/or to a specialist at a polyclinic or a hospital. If you do need to see a specialist for further diagnostics and tests, you’ll be given what’s called an uputnica (a referral). This used to be a slip of paper and it’s now digital (yes, Croatia is actually catching up, believe it or not), and is called an e-Uputnica.

How do I find an English speaking doctor?

English is very widely spoken in Croatia, and most educated people speak it excellently. Most doctors speak some degree of English, some with complete fluency. In smaller areas, especially down on the coast or in the Dalmatian hinterland, you might come across doctors who speak very little to no English, however. The British Government’s website (GOV.UK) and its Croatia page has a handy tool you can use to find the names of English speaking doctors, as does the US Embassy’s website.

In case of emergency

As stated, if you’re experiencing a medical emergency, go straight to the nearest hospital with your health insurance card or the piece of paper HZZO gave to you after you enrolled, don’t wait on your GP. If you’re a mere tourist with no intention of becoming a resident, take your passport and your EHIC. This is now a GHIC if you’re British.

Things to be aware of

Everyone resident in Croatia is supposed to have a GP. Does everyone have one? No. Can everyone get hold of theirs on the phone or via email if they do? Also no. 

Obvezno (mandatory health insurance) does not cover birth control, cosmetic surgery, abortion, or the expenses of medical treatment sought because of some sort of religious conviction or personal preference that isn’t deemed medically necessary.

Unless you have dodatno health insurance (or dopunsko, in a wide array of cases), you may need to pay a small copayment for certain medications, procedures or hospital stays. This is usually a symbolic sum.

Contraception and abortion in Croatia

Contraceptives

Condoms are available in all kinds of stores, from Lidl to newsagents, and even in Tisak kiosks. There are various brands on offer just like all over the world.

I mentioned above that contraceptives aren’t covered by obvezno health insurance in Croatia. Some brands of contraceptive pills, however, are covered if you have taken out a dopunsko policy, but generally you need to pay out of pocket for them and you’ll also need a gynaecologist to give you the green light (and a prescription) following a pelvic examination and a few general health questions to check all is well. The gynaecologist can be a state healthcare provider or a private one, it doesn’t matter at all.

When it comes to intrauterine devices (IUD), you also need to pay. You can get certain types at certain pharmacies and gynaecology practices. Following the purchase, a gynaecologist needs to perform the procedure and insert the IUD into your uterus following the ‘green light examination’ I mentioned above. They may want to examine you again and ask some questions before beginning the procedure to double check.

Plan B and C

Levonorgestrel, more commonly referred to as the morning after pill (Plan B) is available to purchase at all pharmacies (a pharmacy is called a ljekarna in Croatian). Health insurance doesn’t come into this. You can just go and purchase it. It prevents pregnancy in an impressive 95% of cases if taken within 24 hours, and you don’t need to speak to a doctor, nor do you need a prescription.

Mifepristone is a drug often used in combination with another drug called misoprostol to induce a medical abortion and manage early miscarriage. This is known as Plan C, you need a prescription and it can be used until the 10th week of pregnancy in Croatia. Once the prescription is taken to a pharmacy, they aim to have it within one to two days, after which you must take it for a period of four days. After that, you’ll need to go back to the gynaecologist who will perform another pelvic examination to make sure the termination is complete.

Abortion

This is still a touchy subject in Croatia, but abortion is legal and has been for a very long time. If you’re determined to have an abortion and you’ve passed the 10 weeks of pregnancy mark, you need to be absolutely certain of your decision, and while you don’t need any counselling like you do in certain other countries, even the more liberal ones, you do need to convince your doctor you’re 100% sure, as well. 

Once you’ve made your intentions clear, you’ll be spoken to about something called the Commission of First Instance, consisting of a gynaecologist, another doctor, and a social worker or registered nurse. The commission then either chooses to approve the abortion if it is medically necessary to save the woman's life or preserve her state of health, whether that threat to her health is present during the pregnancy, or during the delivery itself.

What does that mean?

An abortion after 10 weeks will likely be approved if what will become a baby is likely to, or will definitely be born with a congenital defect or if the unwanted pregnancy is the result of a crime such as incest or rape. The Commission's decision may be appealed to a Commission of Second Instance, whose decision is final. This sounds daunting, but it doesn’t even come into it in situations where the woman's life or health is in immediate danger or the abortion procedure has already begun. 

Once you’ve been given the green light, you’ll be referred for the procedure, which typically lasts around 40 minutes as long as there are no complications or bumps in the road, and is typically carried out at a hospital. The facility set to carry out the abortion must have a obstetrics and gynaecology department.

Abortions aren’t free, and they are typically not covered by HZZO. You’ll need to fork out a few thousand kuna for the gynaecological exam, blood tests, and the procedure itself.

Things to note

Certain types of IUD are free of charge and covered by HZZO entirely if the woman in question suffers from anaemia as a result of blood loss during abnormally heavy periods.

There are numerous types of contraceptive pills available in Croatia, ask the gynaecologist which one is right for you based on your own medical history, possible medical issues, and potential hormonal issues. If you have had issues with a particular brand in the past, make sure to mention it.

Some pharmacies can refuse to sell Plan B (the morning after pill) on religious grounds. It sounds absolutely beyond comprehension, but it can and does unfortunately happen. If this happens to you, go to another pharmacy.

There is something called ‘conscientious objection’ in Croatia, and much like the above case with Plan B and some pharmacists, some doctors use it to refuse to agree to refer a patient for an abortion, or to carry out the procedure. If this does happen to you, don’t waste your time pleading your case, save yourself the energy and seek out another doctor.

The tide appears to be turning when it comes to the issue of abortion in Croatia. Back in the pandemic-dominated year of 2020, the Ipsos Puls agency conducted a poll in which 81% of respondents agreed with the statement that a woman should have a right to choose regarding pregnancies, giving birth or abortions, of which 68% completely agreed and 13% mostly agreed.

On a much lighter note, you can get free tests for sexually transmitted infections (STIs) through HZZO.

If you’re prescribed some medication, you’ll pay a very small copayment when picking it up from the pharmacy. The amount is symbolic.

Additional information in more specific cases, such as cross-border healthcare, can be accessed by visiting HZZO’s National Contact Point page, or emailing them at [email protected]

Alright, I’ve found a doctor, how do I go about finding a dentist?

Dentists are those kinds of people you just don’t even think about until you can’t stop thinking about them, either because your tooth has suspiciously just started hurting or because you’ve parted with your hard earned cash, all for a tiny filling you won’t even be able to see and what feels like a smack in the face.

They don’t evoke pleasant thoughts, nor do their whirring tools, but they’re very necessary. 

If you’re a tourist in Croatia, you just quite literally need to find one, see if they have an appointment free for you, pay out of pocket for what you need to be done and then be on your merry way, hopefully never to return again. In all honesty, the same can be done as a resident who has Croatian health insurance. If you’re willing to pay out of pocket, you can’t be bothered to go flicking through the dentists which have contracts with HZZO and you need help right now, you’re free to do as you like and go to whoever will treat you. 

Dental care in Croatia is typically of a very high standard, and the prices are very favourable compared to what many people are used to paying elsewhere. This has become such a trend that Croatian dental (and health in general) tourism has been blossoming, with some polyclinics having earned stellar reputations among locals and foreigners alike, be they coming for necessary work or cosmetic procedures.

Finding a dentist who has a contract with HZZO

If you want to find a dentist who has a contract with HZZO and it isn’t cosmetic work you’re after, you’ll be able to be treated for free, although you might need to pay a very small contribution in participation costs.

Cosmetic dentistry

Croatia is making quite the name for itself in this regard, and there are, as I mentioned a little while ago, numerous polyclinics springing up offering excellent services for very favourable prices. Dentists in Croatia study at the School of Dental Medicine in Croatia, which is the only one of its kind in the country, and the care they provide is of high quality. Foreigners from all over the world come to Croatia to get their dental work done, enjoying stays in hotels, sightseeing and the gastronomic scene (as long as they can eat, of course!) all while completing their treatments. 

Croatian dentistry has an absolutely brilliant reputation internationally, and with very good reason.

 

For more on navigating the practicalities of life in Croatia, make sure to keep up with our How to Croatia articles each week by following our lifestyle section.

Wednesday, 2 November 2022

CIHT 2022: Croatia's Premier Health Tourism Conference Turns 10 in Style

November 2, 2022 - Kvarner cements its reputation as the de facto capital of the Croatian medical tourism story, as the Crikvenica International Health Tourism (CIHT) conference marks its 10th anniversary jubilee with yet another outstanding conference and list of participants. 

There has been a lot of uncertainty in the world in the last decade, and tourism is no exception. But there is one corner of Croatian tourism, where things have remained fairly constant, growing every year and attracting global excellence from all corners of the planet. 

It is 5 years since I discovered that Croatia even had a medical tourism industry of note, when Ognjen Bagatin introduced me to the excellent Zagreb trio of Poliklinika Bagatin, St Catherine's Specialty Hospital, and Svjetlost Eye Clinic, but while the Croatian capital had an impressive lineup of services, it did not take me long to realise that the centre of medical tourism excellence in Croatia lay on the coast in Kvarner, where a concentration of truly outstanding medical tourism experts - in a variety of fields, were offering some of the best - and most affordable medical tourism services in Europe, ably organised by the umbrella organisation, The Kvarner Health Tourism Cluster. 

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At the centre of those promotional efforts was a conference which started small back in 2013, went online during the pandemic, but last month celebrated its jubilee 10th anniversary firmly established as the leading health tourism conference in the region, with a truly outstanding list of international expert speakers. When I first attended the conference back in 2018, I was impressed by the number of medical tourism superstars with no obvious connection to Croatia who had made the journey to take part. These included Keith Pollard, Editor-in-Chief of the International Medical Travel Journal, and Sherine Azli, CEO of the Malaysia Healthcare Travel Council, voted the best medical tourism country in the world. Mayo Clinic, Cleveland Clinic and many other prestigious names have taken part over the years. 

After the turbulence of the pandemic years, medical tourism in Croatia is back on track, largely due to the energy of the movers and shakers from Kvarner. An overview of this year's CIHT 2022 conference below.  You can learn more about CIHT 2022 on the official website.

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The jubilee 10th CIHT confirmed its reputation as a leading regional conference on health tourism

This year's jubilee 10th consecutive CIHT (Crikvenica International Health Tourism) conference, held on October 20 and 21 in a hybrid form, in Hotel Omorika and online, gathered in one place more than 20 lecturers from 7 countries and over 300 participants eager for new knowledge about the position, challenges, future and trends in health tourism. The growing attendance and interest in this conference speaks volumes about the importance of a strategic development plan for health tourism in order to better position Kvarner and Croatia on the map of health tourism destinations in the world.

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"The CIHT conference achieved its goal again this year - it gathered top experts from all over the world in the field of health tourism. About 120 participants gathered in Crikvenica live, and even more online. These two days were very interesting in terms of exchanging information, experiences and knowledge, and we will certainly all leave richer for some new knowledge that we will apply in practice. As for the future of the CIHT conference, we are already planning new ideas, speakers and topics, and I invite everyone to join us at the CIHT conference in 2023", said the director of the Tourist Board of the City of Crikvenica, Marijana Biondić.

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One of the special features of this conference is that it brings experts from different professions such as medicine, tourism, marketing and business, which gives a diverse and comprehensive perspective on this prosperous branch of tourism. The conference ideally connects the experiences of the public and private sectors, experts and representatives of health institutions with practical experience. The covid period was challenging, especially for the health sector and its related sectors, therefore this year's conference was guided by the idea of ​​providing answers to the questions of how to adapt to the changed needs of patients and how to recognize the potential of your destination and harmonize it with market requirements.

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After the workshop, in honor of the 10th anniversary, an award ceremony was held last night for institutions and individuals who, through their successful activities, are responsible for the development of health tourism in Croatia. The following were awarded: Special Hospital Akromion, Special Hospital for Ophthalmology Svjetlost, Polyclinic Glavić, Special Hospital Krapinske Toplice, Special Hospital Stubičke Toplice, Special Hospital Sveta Katarina, Special Hospital for Orthopedics Dr. Nemec, Polyclinic Rident, Thalassotherapia Opatija, Terme Selce, Thalassotherapia Crikvenica, Ognjen Bagatin and Marcel Medak.

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While yesterday the topics of trends in health tourism, investments and development of health tourism were in the center, today's presentations were aimed at identifying the market - who are the patients who use services in health tourism, how to improve the service to meet their needs, how to become an attractive institution and destination for new types of tourists and how to achieve competitiveness and break into new markets.

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The successful edition of the 10th anniversary CIHT conference is the result of the cooperation of four organizations that put Kvarner on the map of world destinations for rest and rehabilitation: the Tourist Board of the City of Crikvenica and the Kvarner Health Tourism Cluster as organizers, and Thalassotherapy Crikvenica and Selce Thermal Spa as co-organizers.

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"I think that all participants, and we as organizers, are satisfied with this year's conference. There was a lot of exchange of experiences, agreements, specific joint work, and ideas for the next conference were also obtained with regard to the directions in which health tourism is moving - from the use of digitization, artificial intelligence, regional differences... We are already creating plans and topics for next year , and we also invited some of this year's lecturers to join us", said Assoc. Ph.D. Vladimir Mozetič, MD, president of the Kvarner Health Tourism Cluster.

The general sponsor of the 10th CIHT conference is Jadran-galenski laboratorij d.d., a Croatian pharmaceutical company with global success and recognition. The conference is supported by the Ministry of Tourism and Sports, whose support was crucial in the organization of this conference. The conference is also supported by: Ministry of Health, Primorje-Gorski Kotar County, Croatian Tourist Board, Kvarner Tourist Board, Croatian Chamber of Commerce and City of Crikvenica. Conference partners are Orto Nova - Dental Medicine Center, AmCham - American Chamber of Commerce in Croatia, Jadran d.d. and Ericsson Nikola Tesla d.d. Media sponsors are Jutarnji list and Lider.

After the worthy celebration of the 10th anniversary, preparations for the 11th edition of the conference will soon follow, again with top experts from respected world institutions, interesting discussions on current topics and numerous news.

For the latest news and features on medical tourism in Croatia, follow the dedicated TCN section

 

Wednesday, 2 November 2022

Dubrovnik Winter Flights: 3 National, 3 International Destinations

November 3, 2022 - The new Dubrovnik winter flights timetable is out, reports Croatian Aviation, with improved international connections. 

According to the published winter flight schedule 2022/2023, Dubrovnik should be connected to 3 international and 3 domestic destinations. Croatia Airlines and Trade Air should operate on domestic routes, and Vueling Airlines, Turkish Airlines and British Airways should operate on international routes.

During the entire winter flight schedule, Dubrovnik should be connected by daily flights to Zagreb with the flights of the domestic national carrier. Of course, via Croatia Airlines lines from Zagreb to other European and international destinations.

Among the foreign airlines in Dubrovnik this winter, we should see Vueling Airlines on the route to Barcelona, ​​Turkish Airlines on the route to Istanbul, and British Airways on the route to Gatwick Airport in London. Lines to Barcelona, ​​Istanbul and London (Gatwick) should enable Dubrovnik to have a direct connection with international destinations during the winter, so we hope that the mentioned lines and flights will actually come true.

You can view the entire schedule of the 2022/2023 winter flight schedule at Dubrovnik airport by clicking on this LINK. Of course, this schedule is subject to change, and it is quite certain that the airlines will adapt the flight schedule to their own assessments and needs, so subsequent changes and cancellations should not surprise us too much.

Certainly, we want Dubrovnik airport, just like our other airports, to have as many winter lines and flights as possible!

For the latest flight news to Croatia, check out the dedicated TCN flights section.

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What is it like to live in Croatia? An expat for 20 years, you can follow my series, 20 Ways Croatia Changed Me in 20 Years, starting at the beginning - Business and Dalmatia.

Follow Paul Bradbury on LinkedIn.

Croatia, a Survival Kit for Foreigners is now available on Amazon in paperback and on Kindle.

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Wednesday, 2 November 2022

Air Serbia to Offer Limited Winter Flights to Pula

November 3, 2022 - Looking for a festive visit to Istria? A new Air Serbia service is offering flights to Pula over the Christmas period.

The weather in Croatia these last few days has been exceptional, with people still swimming in the Adriatic. It coincides with the period when most flights to the coast stop for the season, businesses close, and the long winter begins. 

Before the Homeland War, there used to be year-round flights to Croatia's Adriatic airports (read more in this fascinating interview with a 1980s tour rep - Croatian Winter Tourism in 1990: Full of Life! Tour Rep Interview).

Initiatives such as the Split Winter Tourism Roundtable have put the issue back on the agenda, and KLM is running 12-month flights from Amsterdam several times a week to Split, a great option for those wanting to connect with the Dalmatian coast out of season, but there has been little promotion of the fact. 

And, as ExYuAviation writes:

Air Serbia has scheduled a limited winter service between Belgrade and Pula during the holiday period. Flights will operate between December 23 and January 9 each Monday, Wednesday and Friday with the ATR72 turboprop aircraft. Tickets are available for purchase through the airline's website. 

Unlike Croatia Airlines, Air Serbia has a global network, including New York, which will allow both tourists and diaspora to visit Istria over the holiday period. 

Great news, and one more connection to the Croatian coast out of season which will breathe a little more life into the Adriatic lifestyle during the winter months. 

For the latest flight news to Croatia, check out the dedicated TCN section

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What is it like to live in Croatia? An expat for 20 years, you can follow my series, 20 Ways Croatia Changed Me in 20 Years, starting at the beginning - Business and Dalmatia.

Follow Paul Bradbury on LinkedIn.

Croatia, a Survival Kit for Foreigners is now available on Amazon in paperback and on Kindle.

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Tuesday, 1 November 2022

Croatia to Test First Graders for Familial Hypercholesterolemia

November 1, 2022 - Starting next school year, screening first graders for familial hypercholesterolemia will be introduced, and Croatia will be among the first countries with such screening, which exposes the increased cardiovascular risk for children, as well as their closest relatives.

As reported by Index, the president of the Croatian Cardiology Society, explained: "One more test will be added to the systematic examination for enrollment in the first grade of primary school, and that is the total value of cholesterol in the blood." Hereditary, so-called familial hypercholesterolemia implies exposure to pathologically high concentrations of atherogenic cholesterol from early childhood. Therefore patients with this metabolic disease have a tenfold more significant risk of premature cardiovascular incidents.

20,000 people affected

It is estimated that around twenty thousand people in Croatia suffer from such a disorder of fat metabolism, and only one percent of them are recognised. Screening of children was supposed to start this school year, but due to technical reasons, it was postponed until the next school year.

If elevated cholesterol is found, the child will be referred to a pediatrician, and therapy will begin if the diagnosis is confirmed. Treatment is most effective if it starts as early as possible so that patients can have the same number of healthy years and life expectancy as those without the disease.

People suffering from untreated hereditary hypercholesterolemia often suffer from a heart attack or stroke between the ages of 35 and 45 and therefore live significantly shorter lives than the average population.

This concerns patients with the so-called heterozygous form of the disease, which occurs in about 1:300 people. A much rarer and much more malignant is the so-called homozygous hypercholesterolemia, in which, without treatment, patients fall ill and die as a result of atherosclerosis as early as adolescence. When a diagnosis is made during the systematic examination of a preschool child, the school medicine doctor will inform the family doctor about it. They will then perform the so-called reverse cascade screening, i.e., investigate the existence of familial hypercholesterolemia in the affected child's parents, brothers, sisters, or closest relatives.

A parent is a transmitter

Such screening can save the child's parents, one of whom is undoubtedly a carrier of this disease and at the same time suffers from, most often unrecognised, familial hypercholesterolemia. Detecting and treating sick parents and other close relatives, treatment will begin and thus prevent or delay the most dangerous complications of advanced atherosclerosis.

Miličić points out that this is a very important national project that will improve the cardiovascular health of many families and save many lives in the foreseeable future. Given that an average of 30,000 children are enrolled in the first grade of primary school, it is expected that a hundred children in one generation could be diagnosed with this disorder.

Miličić announced the introduction of the new screening at last week's symposium in Zagreb, organised by the World Federation of Cardiology and the Croatian Society of Cardiology. The seminar gathered leading domestic cardiologists who, just after the world premiere, got acquainted with the new procedure for controlling elevated cholesterol.

Other important topics were also touched upon, such as reducing the intake of table salt, the obesity pandemic, and diabetes. It was pointed out that Croats are currently the fattest European nation, and obesity represents a significant independent risk for cardiovascular diseases and many others.

Miličić asserted that Croatia, with a share of cardiovascular mortality of 37 percent in total mortality, with more than 22,000 deaths from these diseases per year, still belongs to countries with a high cardiovascular risk in Europe.

For more, make sure to check out our dedicated Lifestyle section.

Tuesday, 1 November 2022

Croatian Winter Traffic Rules for Lights in Force from Today, Tyres Soon

November 1, 2022 - From today, November 1, drivers will need to have daytime running lights or low beam lights on their vehicles during the day to be more visible in traffic.

As Poslovni writes, until 2018, the beginning of the mandatory use of lights on vehicles during the day would follow daylight saving, which was changed from summer to winter this Sunday, but with the amendment of the Road Traffic Safety Act, the date of this obligation was determined to be from November 1 to March 31. 

The obligation for drivers to always have their daytime running lights or low beam headlights on during the day is prescribed for greater caution on the roads, that is, for better visibility. Drivers of mopeds and motorcycles must have their low beam headlights on during the day all year round or face a fine of HRK 300.
Cyclists must have one white light on the front, and one red light on the back of their bicycle from the first dusk to full dawn and in case of reduced visibility, or they will be fined HRK 500.

Mandatory winter equipment from November 15

From November 15 - on roads in winter conditions, when the road is covered with snow or ice on it - winter vehicle equipment will be mandatory, and this obligation will be in force until April 15.

During the winter conditions on the roads, motor vehicles with no prescribed winter equipment and trucks with a trailer are prohibited. Before entering traffic, drivers must clean frozen windshields and snow, ice or water on the vehicle.

For vehicles that do not have the prescribed winter equipment, a fine of HRK 5,000 to HRK 15,000 is prescribed for legal or natural persons. For the same offense, a responsible person in a legal entity, state authority, or local or regional self-government unit will be fined from HRK 1,500 to HRK 5,000. The driver will be fined HRK 1,000 for this violation. The police will order drivers whose vehicles do not have winter equipment to immediately stop driving or to continue driving on the road where it is allowed or to use winter equipment.

For more, make sure to check out our dedicated Lifestyle section.

Tuesday, 1 November 2022

Foreigners to be Able to Buy Agricultural Land in Croatia, Talking Price

November 1, 2022 - Real estate expert Sanjin Rastovac spoke on the show Točka na tjedan about buying agricultural land in Croatia, commenting on the current situation, foreigners' buying rights, and the prices.

As N1 writes, until now, foreigners could only buy land if they opened a company in Croatia, and from July 1 of next year, they will be able to buy without restrictions.

He added that it would be much simpler and everything will become easier after officially entering Schengen Area.

"There is interest from foreigners, mostly from larger corporations. On the other hand, it is not profitable for local people to have a small amount of land and cultivate it without subsidies", said real estate expert Rastovac.

He pointed out there will be great interest in solar energy, especially in Zagora and Slavonia, because of agriculture and farming.

He points out that Croatia is still the cheapest in the EU regarding land prices, at around 3,400 euros per hectare of arable land. While, for example, in Slovenia, the average is 20,000, and the most expensive is the Netherlands with 70,000 euros. "We can expect a lot of foreigners," he concluded.

When asked if there will be a selling of the ancestral property, he said that it has already happened more or less, especially in Slavonia, and he believes that it could increase.

"The euro is coming, and we are entering Schengen, so it will be easier for people to come. "Istria is the area of ​​greatest interest because land there is the cheapest, and so is the Primorje-Gorski Kotar County," said Rastovac.

There is a lot of interest, he added, in the continent as well, and it is likely to grow. He also commented on the real estate market and the impact of interest rates.

"When interest rates rise, a lot more money is needed, so it is to be expected that there will be fewer buyers. Real estate is our favorite means of investment, but with the new increase in interest rates, we are entering a new cycle," Sanjin Rastovac finished.

For more, make sure to check out our dedicated Lifestyle section.

Tuesday, 1 November 2022

AWFT22 Reflections for Croatia: City of Nimes, Sustainable for 2000 Years

November 1, 2022 - The second edition of the first world forum dedicated to the transformation of the tourism industry, A World For Travel, was held in Nimes, France, from 27 to 28 October. TCN was there to learn about sustainability in travel and tourism. From a journalist's perspective, there was plenty of talk that seemed unactionable or unaccessible to the everyday person. Still, the forum did achieve its primary goal and made us think about the threats that the industry is facing and the fact that there is an urgent need for a change of direction. As for Croatia, there were no representatives, but the hope is that next year's forum will bring a lot more for this tourist destination where the question of sustainability remains very important. 

In TCN, we had a chance to sit with the organisers, the representatives of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Ukraine, large and small businesses that focus on sustainable travel, and other media professionals who have worked on covering this vital topic. Our interviews and reflections are coming in the following days, all with the underlying thought of how Croatia is doing and where we are headed. Before we get to that, let us share what we learned from the city of Nimes.

Nimes was chosen for several reasons: its privileged location on the Rhone Valley-Italy-Spain axis with three direct motorway exits, 2 TGV stations with connections to Paris and Roissy airport, and to the main cities and their airports, not forgetting access to the TER network.

This ancient city is where history has left its mark for 2,000 years, as evidenced by the three main monuments: the amphitheatre, the Maison Carrée, and the Tour Magne, buildings that are today among the best preserved in the world. The vast restoration project of the Nimes amphitheatre, undoubtedly the largest undertaken in France at the beginning of the 21st century, demonstrates the common will to fully assume the heritage that is the pride of the City of Nimes, to preserve it and to transmit it. This restoration concerns the entire monument and is the most important one it has undergone since its origin. It is being carried out without interrupting the public's use of the site and its use for the many shows it hosts, as it has retained its primary function as a performance venue. This project follows the equally exceptional restoration of the Maison Carrée, which took place from 2006 to 2010. This monument represents one of the oldest and best-preserved expressions of a Roman temple dedicated to imperial worship. Its remarkable architectural quality also bears witness to the values of lasting peace, harmony and prosperity that the Roman Empire promoted and sought to guarantee in the first century AD.

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These restoration projects are all the more exceptional because the stones used are still extracted today from the same quarries used by the Romans 2,000 years ago. Did you say sustainable? The unique character of the ancient temple has motivated the city to apply for World Heritage status, an application that will be studied at the next UNESCO session. The protection of its ancient heritage, but also its enhancement, has been the backbone of the numerous urban redevelopment projects that have taken place over the last few decades.

In a constant concern to embellish and improve the living environment of the inhabitants and to make the city accessible to as many people as possible, many improvements have been made to facilitate the use of the city on foot and the organisation of events in the historic centre, not forgetting the connection with the transport network. The principle of intermodality prevails in the urban regeneration programmes and is reflected in the creation of high service level bus lines connected to park-and-ride facilities at the city entrances. A bicycle plan completes the package and is being developed in connection with the cycle paths and European routes that cross the territory.

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Improving the living environment and protecting the inhabitants from the vagaries of nature are priorities for the City, which has developed particularly innovative monitoring and warning tools, of which it was a pioneer. For more than thirty years, the City has been developing a substantial system to protect itself from climatic hazards and to preserve human lives as well as everything that contributes to economic development, including infrastructure. Residents, businesses, local media... all share the culture of risk and the imperative need to respect the measures provided for in the event of a crisis, in the interest of all.

Among the tools at its disposal, Nîmes has adopted a local town planning plan. While it restricts certain constructions and limits urban sprawl, it also guarantees the optimisation of buildable areas by rebuilding the city on itself. The development of numerous gardens and natural spaces, which are essential to avoid rainwater runoff, offer year-round peaceful and recreational spaces to a population that appreciates the conviviality of a human-sized territory. Designed for its inhabitants, these facilities are just as beneficial to the many visitors that Nîmes welcomes throughout the year to discover its heritage or to take part in a cultural or sporting event, or even one of the unmissable events that take place in the Roman city, such as the Emperor's Games, which take its visitors back to antiquity.

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Nimes offers a calendar of events throughout the year in order to provide 4-season tourism and thus spread visitor numbers over the year. Ranked as the 8th greenest city in France according to the Green Cities Observatory and oxygenated by 372 ha of public spaces and 1,080 ha of natural spaces, it has been awarded 4 flowers in the Villes et Villages fleuris (Cities and Villages in Bloom) label and practices ecological management of its green and natural spaces, which is totally in line with the principles of sustainable development.

The city is committed to a sustainable approach with the implementation of global energy performance contracts, particularly in its museums, reducing its expenditure by more than 20% by 2021. It is also stepping up the development of its photovoltaic park and is continuing its work to obtain certification (Eco Réseau label, Sustainable Buildings Occitanie, etc.) to reduce energy consumption. The plan is to reduce the energy consumption of all its buildings of more than 1,000 m² by 40% by 2030 to comply with the requirements of the RTRénovation and RE2020 regulations.

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Nimes Tourism, in its capacity as a Destination Management Organisation, is accompanying the destination's professionals in a classification and labeling process, in collaboration with the CRTL Occitanie, which has placed this theme in its strategy. Already holding several labels, it is also committed to the ISO 20121 approach to strengthen its actions in terms of sustainable tourism. 

In conclusion, while the participation of Nimes in the A World for Travel forum was definitely an excellent marketing move by the town's officials, it wasn't empty promises. The city of Nimes is a truly fascinating little place, where you can feel the effort that has been put into making it a sustainable destination. Lots for Croatia to learn, definitely. And Nimes is not the only place that can teach us something. Next up in our AWFT series: what our neighbours have been up to.

For more, make sure to check out our dedicated Travel section.

Tuesday, 1 November 2022

Koncar's Revenue 26.4% Higher Than 2021's in Third Quarter of 2022

November the 1st, 2022 - Many Croatian companies have finally managed to get their revenues back up to reasonable levels in the post-pandemic period, only to have inflationary pressures and spiralling costs cause yet another issue. Koncar, however, has recorded a firm increase when compared to 2021.

As Mladen Miletic/Poslovni Dnevnik writes, in the third quarter of 2022, Koncar, the largest Croatian exporter and regional leader in the country's power industry, achieved an impressive increase in revenue from the sale of its products and services by 635.9 million kuna, which represents a 26.4% increase in comparison to the results recorded back during same period in what was for this company, a record-breaking 2021.

As much as 61.1% of Koncar's overall income was generated on foreign markets, and at the same time, the growth of newly contracted business and orders was also recorded, which inspires optimism for the future. Along with excellent results in the commercial part of the business, good financial results were also achieved, whereby the consolidated net profit of Koncar's companies amounted to 277.3 million kuna which is equal to 123.9 million kuna or an 80.7 percent increase compared to the same period last year.

With the inclusion of Dalekovod, sales revenues increased by 524.3 million kuna and amounted to 3.562 billion kuna in total. Here on the domestic market, Koncar's companies achieved revenues in the amount of 1.184 billion kuna, which is 268.1 million kuna or 29.3% more than back during the same period last year.

When it comes to exports successfully realised by Koncar, the most significant results were achieved on the demanding German market (332.7 million kuna), which is 40 million kuna more than last year. Sweden (238.8 million) and Austria (95.7 million) follow. Exports to the European Union (EU/single) market as a whole also increased and now amount to 1.343 billion kuna, representing 72.1% of this company's total exports.

For more on Croatian companies, ideas and entrepreneurs, make sure to check out our dedicated business section.

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