Friday, 1 March 2019

Condition of 7-Year-Old Victim of Domestic Violence Serious But Stable

ZAGREB, March 1, 2019 - The condition of a seven-year-old girl who was transferred from Zadar to Zagreb on Thursday due to severe injuries she sustained when her father threw her and her three siblings off the balcony of the house they live in on Pag island, is serious but stable and has not changed in the last 14 hours, doctors at the University Hospital Centre Zagreb said on Friday. The medical staff noted that they were satisfied with the condition of the child which was a victim of domestic violence. "The girl's condition is serious but stable," hospital director Ante Ćorušić.

The child is still critically ill and deeply sedated, but she is not in a state of induced coma, said Dr Milivoj Novak. He commended the chain of care for the child, saying that it had been the best possible.

The other three children, aged 8, 5 and 3, are in a hospital in Zadar.

The eight-year-old, a girl, underwent surgery for maxillofacial injuries on Friday morning.

The other two children, a five-year-old girl and a three-year-old boy, are still at the children's surgical ward of the Zadar Hospital and their condition is stable.

The children's father, a 54-year-old, has been formally reported for attempted quadruple murder and has been detained in Zadar. He will be questioned at the local prosecutor's office on Friday.

More news on the medical issues in Croatia can be found in the Lifestyle section.

Wednesday, 27 February 2019

Croatia Ranks 24th in Terms of Healthcare Quality, Accessibility

ZAGREB, February 27, 2019 - According to the Euro Health Consumer Index (EHCI), which measures the healthcare quality and accessibility, Croatia ranked 24th of 35 European countries in 2018, which is an improvement of two places compared to the 2017 ranking but still leaves Croatia behind Serbia, Slovenia and Montenegro.

The EHCI analyses health systems in 35 countries using 45 indicators related to patients' rights, including the right to information, accessibility of treatment, health care and medicines, and treatment outcomes.

Croatia got 644 of the maximum 1,000 points in 2018, which is 24 points more than in 2017.

Even though Croatia's health system applies very advanced and expensive procedures such as kidney transplantation, there remains the problem of long waiting times for specialist examinations, as well as the problem of accessibility of CT scans and long waiting times for surgery.

Croatia continues to have a high mortality rate related to cancer and cardiovascular diseases and stroke, as well as a high infant mortality rate, and it does not achieve sufficiently good results in the prevention of high blood pressure, smoking and drinking, according to the EHCI.

The best-ranked health systems in Europe are Switzerland (892 points), the Netherlands, Noway and Denmark.

Of Croatia's neighbouring countries, Serbia ranks 18th, Slovenia 21st and Montenegro 23rd. The poorest-ranked are Albania, Romania and Hungary.

Croatia's best result was in 2016, when it ranked 19th in terms of healthcare quality and accessibility.

More health news can be found in the Lifestyle section.

Monday, 25 February 2019

Surgeons at Rijeka Hospital Implant World's Smallest Pacemaker

The Department of Cardiology of the Internal Medicine Clinic of the Rijeka Clinical Hospital Centre has performed new heart surgery for the first time in Croatia. The surgeons at Rijeka hospital have implanted the smallest heart electro-stimulator in the world, reports Ordinacija.hr on February 25, 2019.

The size of the capsule is just 25 mm. It has been implanted directly into the hearts of two patients with a heart rhythm disorder. The procedure at the Department of Invasive and Interventional Cardiology at Sušak was done by physicians led by Sandra Brusicha and Zlatko Čubranić.

This revolutionary device, with no wires and batteries, is implanted directly into the heart of a patient without any surgical cuts. The implantation of traditional heart electro-stimulators requires a complicated surgery with the implantation of the device into a surgically-made pocket underneath the skin and introducing electrodes through the blood vessels into the heart.

The implantation of the latest capsule is performed with just the local anaesthesia through the vein in the groin of the patient, with the aid of a catheter system that drives the device to the right heart ventricle and then attaches it to the heart wall by means of flexible teeth.

The minimal size and the minimally invasive approach do not leave visible signs of a medical device under the skin, the percentage of complications is lower compared to the traditional method, and there are no scars and no need for extended recovery of patients after surgery. On average, the durability of a standard electro-stimulator is 8 to 10 years, while the estimated lifespan of this device is 12 years.

Currently, it is indicated only in patients with an infection of the electro-stimulation system, those who are at high risk of infection or have clogged blood vessels, which prevents the implantation of a standard pacemaker.

The Clinical Hospital Centre in Rijeka is the only centre for extraction of electro-stimulation systems (pacemakers) in Croatia. The electrode extraction procedure is one of the most complex and most dangerous interventions in cardiology.

More medical news in Croatia can be found in the Lifestyle section.

Friday, 22 February 2019

A Group of UN Human Rights Experts: Croatia Must Act Now

A group of UN human rights experts reported today on their findings regarding the public outcry in October 2018, during which numerous women spoke out against the treatment they received in the hospitals in Croatia. The group consisted of: Dubravka Šimonović (Croatia), Ms. Ivana Radačić (Croatia), Chair-rapporteur of the Working Group on Discrimination against Women in Law and Practice; Mr. Dainus Pūras (Lithuania), the Special Rapporteur on the right of everyone to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health.

The Special Rapporteurs and Working Groups are part of what is known as the Special Procedures of the Human Rights Council. Special Procedures, the largest body of independent experts in the UN Human Rights system, is the general name of the Council’s independent fact-finding and monitoring mechanisms that address either specific country situations or thematic issues in all parts of the world. Special Procedures experts work on a voluntary basis; they are not UN staff and do not receive a salary for their work. They are independent from any government or organization and serve in their individual capacity.

Their public report concludes that "Croatia must act now to stop violations of women’s sexual and reproductive health rights, adopt measures to prevent them from occurring again and hold those responsible to account."

“We are appalled by the testimonies given by women, following the launch of the campaign #BreakTheSilence in October 2018, which showed a pattern of abuse and violence against women undertaking medical procedures related to their reproductive health,” the experts added. The violence ranged from surgical treatments carried out without anaesthesia to humiliation, verbal abuse and the refusal to give painkilling medication. “We are deeply concerned about women being subjected to painful treatments without anaesthesia, including surgical miscarriage procedures, uterine scrapes, removal of placenta, stitching after birth, episiotomies being conducted against their will and disrespectful treatment of women by health personnel,” the experts stressed. 

In only two and half days after the launch of the campaign #BreakTheSilence, over 400 testimonies were submitted by women who had experienced violence and abuse at the hands of health personnel in Croatian public hospitals. Some women reported that their legs and arms had been tied to the bed during treatments; others said they had been humiliated by healthcare staff. One woman said her uterus was torn after she had undergone a uterine scrape without anaesthesia in a public hospital. In spite of the testimonies, some politicians and heads of health institutions have denied the allegations, questioning the credibility of the women’s stories and their perception of pain. At times, even women’s intelligence was questioned. 

“A woman who is receiving reproductive health care, including giving birth, accessing medically assisted reproduction services and undergoing surgical miscarriage procedures, must have her rights respected. Health personnel should apply the highest standards of professionalism and ethical codes in delivering reproductive health care, and they must respect the dignity, privacy, autonomy, integrity and security of women,” the experts emphasized. “We encourage the Government of Croatia to conduct an independent investigation into those allegations, to publish its results and to elaborate a national action plan for women’s health,” the experts concluded.

Wednesday, 20 February 2019

Hospital Says President Grabar-Kitarović Entitled to Discount on Check-Up

ZAGREB, February 20, 2019 - The co-owner of a private hospital in which President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović was given a 20% discount on a preventive check-up said on Wednesday she was not extended preferential treatment because, under a management decision, all long-standing patients were entitled to discounts.

"All our so-called long-standing patients are entitled to that discount, whether they have been to the polyclinic or are long-standing patients of professor Dragan Schwarz," Miro Kovačić, co-owner of Radiochirurgia Polyclinic, told Hina. "The president didn't get anything more or less than others in that category."

The Conflict of Interest Commission today opened a case against the president because the discount exceeded 500 kuna, the maximum amount of a gift which, under the Conflict of Interest Act, a state official may receive.

Last Friday the president underwent a regular preventive check-up at Radiochirurgia in Sveta Nedjelja near Zagreb. The media reported that the check-up costs 7,700 kuna and that the president was given a 20% discount, paying 6,160 kuna.

Hospital director Dragan Schwarz said the president had been his patient for years now and that it was "normal" that patients undergoing frequent check-ups were given "certain discounts." He said he saw nothing contentious in this and that the president "wasn't extended any preferential treatment."

He said the public outcry over the fact that the president underwent a preventive check-up in a private hospital was unnecessary and that private hospitals were being brought into an unequal position in relation to public hospitals.

More news on the president can be found in the Politics section.

Sunday, 17 February 2019

Croatia Lagging in Combating Women’s Cancers

ZAGREB, February 17, 2019 - Adopting a resolution on policy challenges and strategies against women’s cancers and related comorbidities, members of the European Parliament have called for greater engagement in the fight against women's illnesses and for developing a strategy at EU level for equal access to health services for all women.

"One in three Europeans develop some form of cancer during their life. About 600,000 women die each year as a result of cancer and 90,000 women die of breast cancer," Italian MEP Daniela Aiuto has said.

Croatia is ranked among the ten countries with the highest cancer mortality rate.

The resolution recommends that a strategy at EU level be prepared, which would be based on "collecting accurate and comprehensive cancer incidence/survival data disaggregated by sex in order to ensure that specific actions are targeted at cancer patients, while undertaking research, initiating preventive action against particular types of cancer, and providing access to accurate information, screening, diagnosis, monitoring, treatment and post-therapy support in order to guarantee medical healthcare."

Aiuto says that as many as 80% of women could survive breast cancer if it was diagnosed on time.

Croatia, along with Hungary, is among the ten countries with the highest cancer mortality rate, research conducted by the Washington University shows, Croatian MEP Marijana Petir has said.

"Illness doesn't recognise sex, age, nationality, origin, social status. We are all equally exposed. That is why it is exceptionally important to raise awareness campaigns to reach everyone. It is important for preventative check-ups to be made available to everyone, including people in rural areas," Petir says.

More health news can be found in the Lifestyle section.

Friday, 15 February 2019

One in Five Croats Have Used Illegal Drugs at Least Once

ZAGREB, February 15, 2019 - At least 20.3% of respondents have used illegal drugs at least once in their life, and the most common illegal drug in Croatia is cannabis, according to findings of a study which were discussed in parliament on Friday during a debate on a report on the implementation of the national strategy for the prevention of the use of illegal drugs in 2017.

"In 2017, a total of 7,157 persons were treated for drug abuse, in the healthcare system, a slight rise of 0.7% compared to 2016," said Health Ministry State Secretary Tomislav Dulibić who presented the findings of the study and the report.

Of those 7,157 treated persons, 80% of them used opiates, and non-opiate addiction covered 1,384 patients, which was 20% rise, he said.

During the debate, lawmaker Ines Strenja of the MOST party warned that over 200,000 people had problems in connection with the use of alcohol, and expressed dissatisfaction with the fact that about a hundred associations for rehabilitated alcoholics had been shut down.

She also warned about the appearance of 51 new psychoactive substances in the European Union, whereas in Croatia 21 smart shops were still operating.

Strenja also pointed out that Croatia was still spending more on rehabilitation than on prevention of alcohol abuse.

In terms of the alcohol consumption, Croatia ranks almost at the top of European countries with 12.8 litres of pure alcohol per capita annually, she said.

Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ) MP, Ivan Ćelić, said that as long as the HDZ government was in power, there would be no legalisation of cannabis for recreational purposes.

More news on the health issues in Croatia can be found in the Lifestyle section.

Friday, 15 February 2019

Zagreb Hospital Receives Donation on International Childhood Cancer Day

ZAGREB, February 15, 2019 - On the occasion of International Childhood Cancer Day, marked on Friday, the Neurosurgery Ward at the University Hospital Centre (KBC) in Zagreb received neurosurgical equipment worth EUR 90,000.

The donation was made by the association of parents Love in Action together with the Kraš, Podravka, Atlantic Trade, Jana Pharm and Novartis companies.

About 120 children are diagnosed with a malignant disease in Croatia each year and as many are treated. Treatment takes a long time and is exhausting for the child and the entire family, and it is of exceptional importance to ensure equal access to care, contemporary treatment procedures and prompt psychological support.

KBC Director Ante Ćorušić thanked the donors, while the head of the Neurosurgery Ward, Goran Mrak, underscored that this was an important donation because it enables more precise location of deep processes within the brain during surgery.

The head of the Love in Action association, Ljiljana Vuletić, said that since its establishment in 2010, the association has assisted about 300 families and indirectly helped just as many. The association provides three apartments for families whose children are being treated as well as a vehicle to transport gravely ill children. The association also organises rehabilitation, provides financial aid for families and assists in the exercise of welfare rights.

More news on Croatia’s medical sector can be found in the Lifestyle section.

Tuesday, 12 February 2019

UNICEF and Pampers Raise Funds for 13 Neonatal Intensive Care Units

ZAGREB, February 12, 2019 - As part of the campaign "A touch that means life", Pampers and UNICEF have raised 450,000 kuna (approx. 60,800 euro) for equipment to be used by parents staying with their children in the 13 neonatal intensive care units in Croatia.

"Premature birth is something parents usually do not expect and it causes a lot of stress," UNICEF Croatia Office head Đurđica Ivković told a news conference.

Around 2,000 children are born prematurely in Croatia every year, and 400 of them need special care. Early skin contact can help save their lives and facilitate their recovery.

Ivković said that until now parents at neonatal wards could only watch their children through the glass, while now they can stay with them and touch and hold them.

The campaign "A touch that means life" started in January 2018 ahead of International Hugging Day, when Pampers photographed people hugging and gave a kuna donation for each hug. In the second part of the campaign, by June 2018 it donated two kuna from each nappy box sold.

More news on the medical care in Croatia can be found in the Lifestyle section.

Monday, 11 February 2019

Croatia Marks International Epilepsy Day

ZAGREB, February 11, 2019 - There are about 35,000 Croatians diagnosed with epilepsy and although this disease is now usually successfully treated, some of those patients experience everyday prejudices, the head of the Croatian League against Epilepsy, Silvio Bašić, has told Hina. Croatia has joined in observing International Epilepsy Day, a special event which promotes awareness of epilepsy in more than 120 countries each year. Every year on the second Monday of February people join together to highlight the problems faced by people with epilepsy, their families and carers.

Epilepsy is the most common neurological disorder worldwide, and 60 per cent of cases diagnosed with epilepsy have unknown causes. According to estimates made by the World Health Organisation, about 50 million people suffer from this disease.

According to some statistical figures from the recent years, of those 35,000 Croats living with epilepsy, 7,000 of them are children. In Zagreb alone, 800 kindergarten children were diagnosed with neurological problems, including epilepsy, in the past few years.

In 2016, the Zagreb-based "Rehabilitation Centre Silver " launched new programmes for training of instructors for assistance dogs that should become seizure response dog, and this has been the first programme of this kind to be conducted in Croatia.

Tasks for seizure dogs may include the following: find someone to help, activate an emergency response system, stimulate a person to help them "wake up" after a seizure, act as a brace to help the person up, retrieve a phone or medication, physically remove the patient from an unsafe situation etc.

More news on the health issues in Croatia can be found in the Lifestyle section.

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