Thursday, 24 October 2019

More Pensioners to Be Eligible for Free Supplemental Health Insurance?

ZAGREB, October 24, 2019 - The Croatian Pensioners Union (SUH), which insists on raising the income threshold for eligibility to free supplemental health insurance so that a higher number of pensioners can be given free-of charge supplemental health insurance, on Thursday sent an open letter to the government with its demands.

Representatives of the SUH gathered outside Government House in the morning to inform the general public of their demand that the government should provide a higher number of pensioners with free supplemental health insurance.

The unionists warn that the pension indexation in the last years led to higher monthly pension allowances, while the income threshold has remained the same, which is why some 10,000 pension recipient have lost their right to have the state pay for their supplemental health insurance.

The income threshold is the same since 2004: for instance, 1,939 kuna for a single-member household, while the SUH union insists that this threshold should be raised to 2,485 kuna, which means that all pension recipients whose monthly income is below that line should be eligible to have the state pay for their supplemental health insurance.

The union says that 98% of monthly pension allowances is below the average monthly wage, and 55% of monthly pension allowances is below the poverty line of 2,485 kuna.

Currently, 163,000 pension recipients are covered by the scheme of the supplemental health insurance paid by the state for them, while others have to pay with their own funds.

SUH activists announced further protest actions until their demands are met.

More pension system news can be found in the Business section.

Sunday, 20 October 2019

Federation for Rare Diseases Raising Public Awareness of Such Illnesses

ZAGREB, October 20, 2019 - The Croatian national federation for rare diseases on Saturday organised events in Zagreb's Zrinjevac square to raise awareness of such diseases.

Rare diseases are considered to be those that affect fewer than five people per 10,000 inhabitants. About 250,000-300,000 people in Croatia are estimated to be suffering from such diseases.

The national federation is an umbrella association with over 1,000 individual members and 28 associations acting for the benefit of patients with more than 400 different rare diagnoses.

The federation is planning to open a centre for people affected by such diseases, the federation's vice-president Sara Bajlo said.

It is also preparing the development of a database.

Some of the most important activities of the federation is to provide psychosocial help and support to its members and to manage the Croatian Help Line for Rare Diseases (- 0800 99 66 -).

More health news can be found in the Lifestyle section.

Saturday, 19 October 2019

National Cancer Plan Coming This Year

ZAGREB, October 19, 2019 - Last year 13,809 died in Croatia from invasive cancers and the National Cancer Plan, which should contribute to reducing those grim numbers, is expected to be put to the government before the end of the year, Health Minister Milan Kujundžić said on Friday.

In Croatia, a patient is diagnosed with cancer every 22 minutes, while every 38 minutes someone dies from cancer, and the experts who prepared the national plan consider that its implementation could save 4,500 lives in the next ten years.

"The point is to implement the plan. If the plan is not backed financially, it will be just another frustration of us," said Eduard Vrdoljak, president of the Croatian Oncology Society and head of the task force that prepared the plan.

The plan will cost 1.5 billion kuna over a period of 10 years and comprises 228 measures that include investment in primary prevention and early diagnosis as well as in infrastructure - a national oncology network, a national oncology data base and the monitoring of its implementation in order to achieve its main aim and that is to improve the results of treatment and to reduce the fatality rate, Vrdoljak said.

If Croatia succeeds in that, that will be the best investment in the survival of the Croatian nation and the reform of Croatia's health sector, he added.

Croatian cancer patients have access to state-of-the-art therapy, immunotherapy and genetic therapy, and about 700-800 million kuna is spent on that out of a total of 1.4 billion kuna in the fund for particularly expensive medicines.

More health news can be found in the Lifestyle section.

Tuesday, 8 October 2019

FEMS to Report Violation of Croatian Doctors' Rights to International Organisations

ZAGREB, October 8, 2019 - The European Federation of Salaried Doctors (FEMS) said on Monday that it would file a report with the supervisory bodies of the International Labour Organisation (ILO) over violations of labour and union rights of Croatian doctors.

The move was proposed by the head of the FEMS General Assembly, Joao De Deus, at the autumn session of the FEMS General Assembly held in Riga, Latvia, on October 3-5, the Croatian Medical Union (HLS) said.

The procedure before international institutions over violation of doctors' labour and union rights was previously requested by HLS president Renata Čulinović-Čaić, who took part in the FEMS General Assembly meeting and submitted a national report on the status of doctors in Croatia.

The report to ILO is only one in a number of steps to be taken before European and other international institutions with the aim of protecting Croatian doctors' rights, the HLS said in a press release.

The Croatian government's actions regarding the settlement of problems faced by Croatian doctors have been monitored by FEMS over the past six months yet they remain unsolved, the HLS says in the press release.

The problems concern lack of representativeness, inadequate payment for overtime work, and exceeding the legal maximum overtime work allowed.

The FEMS Assembly was also informed of a declaration signed by three Croatian umbrella medical associations as well as the government's disregard for their demand to meet with the prime minister.

The three associations demand in their declaration urgent adoption of a law on doctors' salaries or a collective branch agreement.

In the coming days the three medical associations will start preparations for further action, of which the public will be informed on time, the HLS said.

More health news can be found in the Lifestyle section.

Friday, 4 October 2019

Harsher Penalties for Parents Not Vaccinating Their Children?

ZAGREB, October 4, 2019 - Justice Minister Dražen Bošnjaković said on Thursday that after an analysis and public consultation, he would take a stance on a proposal by the children's ombudsman that parents not vaccinating their children be convicted and sent to prison, saying however that harsher penalties were more effective.

Speaking to reporters after the cabinet meeting on Thursday, Bošnjaković said that public consultation on amendments to the criminal law had just ended and that he was yet to analyse all the proposals, objections and suggestions that have arrived including the proposal by the ombudsman.

"We will consult the medical and legal profession, faculties and see where we are," he said, adding that it was too early to comment on the ombudsman's proposal.

Commenting on a statement by Health Minister Milan Kujundžić that drastic penalties were not necessary and fines were enough, along with informing parents, Bošnjaković said that he is not familiar with the medical aspect, however he would talk with everyone and see what the best solution was.

"We already had amendments to the criminal law whereby we increased penalties for those committing crimes toward children and minors. I think that harsher penalties are more effective than lenient ones which do not deter possible perpetrators. I think that harsher penalties are a better message to those who might want to commit a crime," said Bošnjaković.

More vaccination 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.

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