Thursday, 3 October 2019

Protesting Nurses Seek 25% Pay Rise

ZAGREB, October 3, 2019 - Several hundred nurses protested outside Government House on Thursday disgruntled with a recently signed appendix to their Collective Agreement and are seeking a 25% increase on their base wage.

They are unsatisfied with the appendix to the collective agreement that was recently signed by health sector unions and the government providing a 7% wage increase as of 1 September.

"That literally means an increase of 50 kuna for each employee," the nurses said in a Facebook post in which they announced the protest and underlined their demands: a 25% increase of the base wage, returning supplements for each year of seniority, and new employment.

"Nurses are the pillar of the health sector," "A billion for Agrokor, a ticket for Ireland for nurses," are just some of the banners carried at the protest rally.

Addressing protesting nurses, Sanda Alić, one of the protest's initiators, warned of the poor state the system is in and the poor working conditions nurses work in.

"People are emigrating to find work because you forced them to. That is why each of us here works for two people. For how long?" Alić asked.

She underscored that attempts were made over the past few days to keep nurses quiet yet they make up for most of the health sector, 30,000 staff, and that they will not allow a handful of people to decide on their fate.

The protest's organiser Sandra Kolak stressed that for years it has been said that there is a shortage of 12,000 nurses.

That has been said by chambers, unions, trade organisations, the minister, yet all these years we have had a ban on hiring. Recently job vacancies were advertised but who wants to work here when they can earn three times as much in Germany, said Kolak.

Health Minister Milan Kujundžić earlier on Thursday commented on the protest, saying that he could understand their wish for higher wages but that the government had increased their wages as much as it could for the time being.

More health sector news can be found in the Lifestyle section.

Wednesday, 25 September 2019

33 Persons Diagnosed with Measles Since Start of 2019

ZAGREB, September 25, 2019 - The Croatian Public Health Institute (HZJZ) said on Wednesday that in the period from the start of this year to September 24 it had received reports of 33 persons infected with measles, and currently new cases are being reported exclusively in Zagreb, while in other counties cases of measles infection were reported in the first half of the year.

Since the start of the year, most cases of measles infection have been reported in Split-Dalmatia County (14), followed by Zagreb (11), Brod-Posavina County (5), Zadar County (2) and Dubrovnik-Neretva County (1).

Eleven Zagreb residents contracted measles this year. Among them are two people who fell ill in February and May and they contracted the disease outside the country and did not pass it onto other people. Nine more people contracted measles in late August and in September, and currently epidemiological data is being collected and preventive measures are being taken, the HZJZ said.

It said that the vaccination rate in Zagreb is satisfactory, with 95.8% of children having been vaccinated as part of primary vaccination and 94.8% as part of revaccination.

Of the 33 persons diagnosed with measles, nine were cases of infection imported from outside the country, 14 persons got infected in Croatia following contact with measles patients, and for 10 cases it was not possible to establish where the infection occurred.

Among those 33 with the infection, 12 were not vaccinated, 5 were insufficiently vaccinated (with only one vaccine), 2 persons received two vaccines, and the vaccination status of 14 persons is not known.

Most of the patients were aged over 30 (19), six were in the age group 20-29, four were children under the age of 4, two were aged between 10 and 12, one was under 1 and one in the age group 5-9.

The measles vaccination rate in Croatia in 2018 was 93.2% in primary vaccination, and 94.7% in revaccination. Every year cases of imported disease are reported but it is the high vaccination rate that prevents the spreading of the disease.

More health news can be found in the Lifestyle section.

Monday, 23 September 2019

Round Table Calls for Free Taxi for Low-Income Cancer Sufferers

ZAGREB, September 23, 2019 - The Croatian healthcare system should introduce a free taxi service to ensure transport for low-income cancer sufferers who need chemotherapy because currently the state's job is done by nongovernmental associations, a round table held on the occasion of European Mobility Week heard earlier this week.

"In March last year we launched a project to take women-cancer patients to chemotherapy by taxi... so far, we have supported 180 women who suffer from cancer and are treated in Zagreb hospitals," said Ivana Kalogjera of the "We Are Not Alone" association.

The purpose of the round table, organised as part of events marking European Mobility Week, was to raise awareness of problems encountered by cancer patients and their need for a taxi service.

Kalogjera said that their users come from different parts of Croatia, they are mostly elderly women, are poor, are single parents or suffer from several medical conditions.

So far, the NGO has raised donations for more than 5,000 free taxi rides, and the average price of a taxi ride is HRK 63 (€8.5) because patients also come from areas around Zagreb.

Kalogjera said that the association had exhausted its own resources and expected the authorities to do something to show they cared about cancer patients.

The system is not organised well because even though ambulance transport is available, it is not available to all patients and sometime patients have to wait for hours to be taken home by ambulance after receiving therapy, Kalogjera said.

The round table was also attended by Dutch Ambassador Rosanne Mulder, who spoke about medical transport in her country, saying that Dutch companies, research institutes and hospitals work together to promote medical care.

Instead of nongovernmental organisations, public health insurance covers the cost of transport to and from hospital for certain types of therapy, such as dialysis and chemotherapy, as well as for disabled people, people with impaired vision and people under the age of 18, she said.

She said that new initiatives were being introduced such as personalised taxi service, in which insurance companies have shown interest, as well as refunding hotel accommodation costs for patients who live far from the place where they receive therapy.

The deputy chair of the Croatian Parliament Health and Social Policy Committee, Ivan Ćelić, said that media and NGOs should exert pressure to bring about changes and that money for those changes would be found, adding that he believed the Croatian Health Insurance Institute would relatively soon start covering the cost of taxi transport for patients.

More health news can be found in the Lifestyle section.

Monday, 23 September 2019

Conference on Media and Healthcare to Take Place in Rovinj

ZAGREB, September 23, 2019 - Healthcare professionals, representatives of the medical and pharmaceutical industries and economists will gather in the northern Adriatic resort town of Rovinj on October 4-5 for a conference on the media and healthcare, organised by the Croatian Association of Health and Medical Reporters, the Zagreb School of Medicine and the Difrakcija association.

Croatia annually allocates slightly over 1,200 euro per inhabitant for healthcare, which is 2.4 times less than the EU average, constantly generating deficits which are covered from the state budget. In the last 24 years, the country has injected an additional 18 billion kuna (2.4 billion euro) into the healthcare system through various aid schemes.

In Croatia, life expectancy at birth is 77.5 years, almost three years lower than the EU average, and the country is near the bottom of EU rankings on mortality from cardiovascular and malignant diseases.

"In Croatia, the prevailing impression is that we have a good health care system. It is a fact that we have good doctors and that we rank high in certain segments of healthcare. However, it is also a fact that it is increasingly difficult for people to exercise their right to healthcare, that we are facing increasing problems with ensuring expensive diagnostic examinations and procedures, that there is no systematic cost control and that the system is uncontrollably sliding towards privatisation of some services," said Ognjen Brborović of the Difrakcija association.

"We want to encourage discussion on an optimum system of financing that would ensure quality service for all citizens at the lowest possible cost, because we consider a good healthcare system to be key to further economic and social development of Croatia," he said.

Health Minister Milan Kujundžić will also be attending.

More health news can be found in the Lifestyle section.

Friday, 20 September 2019

Foundation Stone for New Hospital in Rijeka Laid

ZAGREB, September 20, 2019 - Prime Minister Andrej Plenković laid the foundation stone for a new hospital in Rijeka's Sušak district on Thursday. The hospital will house a clinic for paediatrics and a clinic for gynaecology and obstetrics, along with corresponding laboratories serving the city's Clinical Hospital Centre (KBC).

"I am glad that we as the government have shown determination and boldness to continue the implementation of this major project," Plenković said at the ceremony.

The cost of construction is about 875 million kuna (118 million euro), and this is a major investment in the Croatian healthcare sector, the PM said. Once completed, this project will raise both the standard of healthcare and standard of living in this part of the country, he added.

The hospital will have eight levels, it will be built by the Kamgrad and GP Krk companies, and the deadline for its completion is March 2022.

Health Minister Milan Kujundžić said that this was a great event for the future of this part of Croatia and for the healthcare sector as a whole.

"Croatia needs four large hospital centres - in Zagreb, Rijeka, Split and Osijek - as a guarantee of a high level of hospital medicine in the country," Kujundžić said.

More Rijeka news can be found in the Lifestyle section.

Friday, 13 September 2019

Government and Unions Initial Collective Agreement in Healthcare Sector

ZAGREB, September 13, 2019 - The government and trade unions in the healthcare sector on Friday initialled an annex to the branch collective agreement whereby additions to salaries in this sector are regulated.

The document was inked in Government House after the two sides agreed on a 7-percent rise in wages of the healthcare sector as of 1 September.

The agreement reached on Friday morning envisages a 3% increase on working conditions for all employees in the sector plus 4% for responsible duties performed by those included in the process of diseases diagnosis and treatment.

For this purpose, the government is supposed to set aside 400 million kuna (54 million euro) annually.

After the initialling of the document, Prime Minister Andrej Plenković said that the sides had tried to reach a solution that was realistic and best in the current circumstances.

He underscores that during the term of his cabinet the wage base for state employees and public servants increased by 11.5%.

Plenković said that the seven percent increase was viable in the fiscal sense for this and next year.

Health Minister Milan Kujundžić said that the agreement was a possible compromise.

Unionist Brankica Grgurić said that they were given guarantees that the annex to the collective agreement would be signed after it had been initialled.

Unionist Stjepan Topolnjak said that all workers in the healthcare sector would not be satisfied, however, under the existing circumstances, this increase was the highest they could achieve at the negotiations.

More health news can be found in the Lifestyle section.

Friday, 13 September 2019

Funds Collected to Improve Conditions for Children Diagnosed with Cancer

ZAGREB, September 13, 2019 - The Franco-Croatian Chamber of Commerce and Industry on Thursday held a fundraiser for a new, enhanced, unit for treatment of children suffering from cancer at the Department of Paediatrics at the Zagreb University Hospital Centre.

During the gala dinner held in Zagreb's Westin Hotel, the head of the foundation, which was set up to collect necessary funds for the construction of that unit, Anamarija Zorović, said that this project, estimated at 25 million kuna, was to the benefit all children in Croatia.

So far, some 11 million kuna has been collected either in pecuniary donations or in the form of work, said the head of the Zagreb University Hospital Centre, Ante Ćorušić.

Currently, the division of haematology and oncology at the Department of Paediatrics has 27 beds for patients, and the construction of the new section on the roof of the hospital's building will provide more amenities for small patients, the head of the division, Dr. Ernest Bilić has said recently.

Annually 120-140 children are diagnosed with malignant diseases in Croatia, and the division of haematology and oncology at the Department of Paediatrics mostly tackles leukaemia and lymphoma.

The survival rate among children hit by acute lymphoblastic leukaemia is 85% in Europe and in Croatia this percentage stands at 86%, which shows that Croatia is above the EU average.

In attendance at Thursday's fundraising function were Prime Minister Andrej Plenković, a few cabinet ministers, as well as some other distinguished guests. Plenković said that efforts to collect the necessary funds were praiseworthy.

More health news can be found in the Lifestyle section.

Tuesday, 10 September 2019

Croatia to Join in Marking World Suicide Prevention Day on Tuesday

ZAGREB, September 10, 2019 - According to data provided by the Interior Ministry, 657 Croatians committed suicide in 2018, which was a 5.1 per cent rise compared to 2017.

Broken down by gender, 156 women and 501 men killed themselves last year in Croatia. A very alarming fact is that the number of deaths by suicide in the age cohort under 25 years increased by 45% to 48 cases in 2018 as against 33 in 2017.

These figures were presented in a press release on Monday by the no-profit making association called "Životna Linija" which will organise the lighting of lanterns along Savski Most bridge in Zagreb on Tuesday, 10 September, when World Suicide Prevention Day is observed worldwide.

The lantern-lighting ceremony in Zagreb will be staged in memory of suicide victims in Croatia.

The NGO is also preparing a concert to be held in the Sax Club in Zagreb on 10 October, when World Mental Health Day is observed.

More health news can be found in the Lifestyle section.

Sunday, 1 September 2019

Hospital Staff to Briefly Stop Working on Wednesday

ZAGREB, September 1, 2019 - The head of a nurses' union announced on Saturday that on Wednesday the staff in several hospitals in the country would briefly stop working to warn citizens and the government that the situation in healthcare was untenable.

"We want to let our government and Health Ministry know and warn them that the healthcare system is indeed about to crash given the number of employees, working conditions, salaries, overtime and the absence of a collective agreement for a year and a half now," Ankica Prašnjak told Hina.

The drive, called The Eleventh Hour, is being prepared in relation to union negotiations on a branch collective agreement in healthcare and will begin around noon in one hospital in Zagreb, one in Dubrovnik and one in Split, she said, adding that staff would cease working for 15, 30 or 60 minutes, depending on the situation in each hospital.

Prašnjak said the drive would precede a strike, adding that citizens were aware that nurses and doctors were overworked.

"But we must draw attention in some way so that the work of nurses, doctors and all employees in healthcare is not trivialised," she said, adding that "it's necessary to raise our salaries and keep us in Croatia as we are one of the most interesting and in-demand professions in Europe, where we get very good offers of better working conditions and better salaries."

More health and medicine news can be found in the Lifestyle section.

Friday, 30 August 2019

Central Management System in Healthcare Sector Presented

ZAGREB, August 30, 2019 - Health Minister Milan Kujundžić presented a Central Management System (CMS) for the national healthcare system, during his visit to the Zadar general hospital on Friday.

CMS is a central system of communication with hospitals and it collects information on a daily basis regarding all health indicators and data analysis and supports structural notices on hospital network sites as well as upgrading hospital invoicing, the Health Ministry said in a press release.

The system represents a positive step in exchanging and analysing data in the hospital system and the public health institute system and will facilitate the health system's operations, Health Minister Milan Kujundžić said presenting the system that was prepared jointly by the Health Ministry, the Croatian Health Insurance Institute (HZZO), and the Croatian Public Health Institute (HZJZ).

Considering the sensitivity of data that the system contains, it is equipped with the highest information security and data protection standards.

More health news can be found in the Lifestyle section.

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