Tuesday, 14 January 2020

Croatian Nursing Council Condemns Grabar-Kitarović's Statement about Corruption

ZAGREB, January 14, 2020 - The Croatian Nursing Council (HKMS) on Tuesday condemned a statement made by President Kolinda Grabar Kitarović in which she mentioned nurses in the context of corruption.

Talking about corruption in Croatian society, Grabar-Kitarović said that "friends asked her why she did not take anything to the hospital, because nurses expect that." The President insinuated that nurses "expect gifts" from their patients, HKMS stated.

"Nurses and medical technicians do their jobs in a professional and ethical manner, and they are wholeheartedly committed to their patients' well-being. We find linking this humane profession with corruptive actions unacceptable," they stated.

"Every concerned citizen who knows of or suspects a crime is being committed has the duty to report it, indicating the full name of the suspected person. Labelling nursing as a corrupt profession is unacceptable," said the president of the Croatian Nursing Council (HKMS) Mario Gazić.

The Croatian Nursing Council expects the government to finally start addressing the many burning issues in nursing, such as the shortage of nurses, non-recognition of nursing college degrees, poor organization and unsustainable working conditions in nursing, underpayment, injustices in promotions, irregular distribution of the workload, unclear systematization of work positions, and increasingly frequent cases of verbal and physical violence, HKMS said in a press release.

More health news can be found in the Lifestyle section.

Tuesday, 14 January 2020

Croatia First EU Country to Conduct Early Screening of Lung Cancer in Whole Country

ZAGREB, January 14, 2020 - Croatia will be the first country in the EU to introduce early screening of lung cancer in the whole country, and all people between 50 and 70 years of age who are active smokers, or who have stopped smoking within the last 15 years, and were consuming at least 30 packs of cigarettes per year, will be included in the national lung cancer early detection programme, soon to commence across Croatia.

The goals of the programme include reducing lung cancer mortality by 20% in the next 5 to 10 years thus saving more than 500 lives annually, achieving a 50% response rate to the screening, and raising the five-year survival rate from 10 to 15%.

The national programme, conducted by the Health Ministry in cooperation with the Croatian Thoracic Association, will be officially presented on Tuesday.

Lung cancer is detected in around 3,000 people annually in Croatia, and the leading cause of the disease is smoking. Research shows that 31.1% of Croatia's population are smokers - 35.3% of men, and 27.1% of women. In 2018, 3,021 people were diagnosed with lung cancer (899 women and 2122 men), and 2,789 people died from it. The prevalence of lung cancer is stagnating in men, and rising in women.

Lung cancer is the leading cause of malignant disease deaths in the world and in Croatia. Despite considerable progress in treatment, in most cases it is still an incurable disease, and one of the main reasons for poor treatment results is the fact that two thirds of patients are diagnosed with lung cancer in the advanced stage, when recovery is no longer possible.

Screenings will be performed on low-dose high-resolution CT scanners (LDCT), which can detect even the slightest change in the lungs.

Health facilities across Croatia, in Zagreb, Osijek, Rijeka, Split, Varaždin, Zadar, Dubrovnik, Slavonski Brod, Virovitica, Pula and Krapinske Toplice, are now equipped with 16 LDCT scanners in total.

More health news can be found in the Lifestyle section.

Thursday, 9 January 2020

Croatian Boy Walks After Successful Brain Implant at Dubrava Clinic

The neurosurgery team at Dubrava Clinical Hospital has achieved another success. A 10-year-old Croatian boy from Dalmatia, who was paralyzed due to a rare disease, has received a deep brain stimulator implant. Just three months after surgery, the boy is walking.

After a five-year search, the parents of the 10-year-old boy finally learned about his diagnosis. A rare disease, dystonia, is a condition in which the brain has no control over muscular activity and was the cause of all their son's problems. They sought help from Professor Chudy at KB Dubrava (Dubrava Clinical Hospital), according to Ruža Ištuk/Dnevnik/HRT on January 8, 2020.

Their son underwent surgery three months ago, and they say that the results are amazing. The boy is speaking more clearly, sits without help, can control his movements and walk.

“I feel wonderful. It's like a new birthday for me. I don't know how to describe the feeling as a parent. It's a big deal to have a child who has a (medical) problem, and then everything gets better. It’s phenomenal, said the boy's parent.


Professor Darko Chudy, head of the Department of Neurosurgery at KB Dubrava, said he expects the boy to become independent and to have the same life opportunities as other boys.

"This stimulator works like a trigger which enables muscles to follow orders," Chudy explained.


“There’s no better feeling. It motivates you to keep going and become even better at what we do so that our patients are happy and satisfied, said Fadi Almahariq, neurosurgeon at KB Dubrava.


Veronica Paradžhik, the boy's physical therapist, is also delighted as the improvements are becoming increasingly visible.

"It was only after the stimulator was installed that physical therapy sessions began to show results," Paradžhik revealed.

The boy is now undergoing spa therapy and his condition is expected to further improve.


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Thursday, 19 December 2019

Health Insurance Institute Introduces Uniform Calendar of Medical Appointments

ZAGREB, December 19, 2019 - A uniform calendar for the registration of patients for hospital examination, which is expected to make order and reduce waiting lists for nine medical procedures, has been launched this week, and for the time being it includes 42 of the country's 64 hospitals, it was said at a news conference at the Croatian Health Insurance Institute (HZZO) on Thursday.

The hospitals included in this system have compatible information systems while the others would be integrated by May 2020.

The nine medical procedures are the ones for which currently waiting lists are the longest - MR and CT scans, Holter monitor, heart ultrasound, cardiac stress test, cataract surgery, breast ultrasound, thyroid ultrasound and gastroscopy, and there are plans to expand the list.

Patients will get medical appointments from their GPs while specific dates for procedures such as MR and CT scans, cataract surgery and gastroscopy will be allocated by specialists or hospital administrators.

A patient will be able to cancel their appointment via the eCitizen system or change the date of the examination or the hospital.

The uniform calendar of medical appointments will prevent the multiplication of medical appointments, which currently results in unrealistically long waiting lists, and making an appointment by using the patient's personal identification number will automatically prevent scheduling more than one examination of the same type in a different hospital, HZZO director Lucijan Vukelić said at the news conference.

The uniform calendar consists of red, yellow and green lists into which doctors enter appointments, with the red list designated for priority or urgent appointments, for patients who have to be scheduled for an examination within a period of 14 days.

The yellow list refers to appointments that are not urgent but have to be made so as to prevent causing harm to the patient's health by making them wait longer than prescribed by doctors.

The green list refers to procedures a patient can wait for a longer period of time or to regular check-ups.

More health news can be found in the Lifestyle section.

Wednesday, 11 December 2019

Health Minister to Seek a Solution for Doctors' Unpaid Overtime

ZAGREB, December 11, 2019 - Following a ruling by the Supreme Court that doctors are entitled to higher pay for overtime, Health Minister Milan Kujundžić said on Tuesday he would try together with the HLS physicians' union to find a solution to this issue.

The Supreme Court ruling says that reimbursement to doctors for overtime work should also include compensation for specific work conditions and other benefits, which means that the debt to doctors accrued due to miscalculation of overtime pay is estimated at 1.5 billion kuna (203 million kuna), and so far 4,000 physicians have taken legal action against their employers over this problem.

Several hundred final verdicts have been handed down to date.

The Supreme Court ruling has been applauded by the HLS union and the Croatian Medical Chamber (HLK).

"This is our joint victory in the struggle for doctors' rights," HLK leader Krešimir Luetić said today.

HLS leader Renata Čulinović-Čaić said the ruling confirmed physicians' claims that their overtime pay was miscalculated. Now it is up to the ministry to think and find ways to pay what we have earned, she added.

Kujundžić said that the ministry would try to reach agreement with the HLS on the pace and schedule of payment of that debt. He added that the problem was inherited from the government which was in power in 2013.

More news about the healthcare system can be found in the Lifestyle section.

Friday, 6 December 2019

Life Expectancy in Croatia Lags 2.9 Years Behind EU Average

ZAGREB, Dec 6 (Hina) - Croatia's life expectancy is increasing but is still below the European Union's average by three years, according to findings of the EU report on the State of Health in its member-states.

"Although life expectancy at birth in Croatia increased by 3.4 years between 2000 and 2017, from 74.6 to 78 years, the distance to the EU average remained almost unchanged, amounting to 2.9 years," reads the report's section on Croatia

Croatia's Health Profile, which was presented in Zagreb on Friday by the Andrija Štampar Teaching Institute of Public Health, reads that one the reasons for this gap is "the low effectiveness of public health interventions," and in this context it is underscored that "anti-tobacco policies are underdeveloped, indoor smoking in public places is still widespread, and rates of teenage smoking are the third highest in the EU."

"Obesity rates are rising, particularly among children. Preventable mortality is well above the EU average," reads the report.

"Social inequalities in life expectancy appear to be less pronounced in Croatia than in many other EU countries. For instance, Croatian women with lower education live on average 1.6 years less than those who completed tertiary education, and this gap for women is far below the EU average (4.1 years).

In 2017, Croatians aged 65 could expect to live an additional 17.4 years, 2 years more than in 2000. However, more than 12 years of life of this period is spent with disabilities. The gender gap in life expectancy at age 65 is about 3.5 years in favour of women. However, there is no gender difference in the number of healthy life years because women tend to live a greater proportion of their lives after age 65 with health issues and disabilities, reads the report.

The shorter life expectancy in the Croatian cohort of elderly citizens than in the whole of the EU is the consequence of behavioural risk factors, including dietary factors, tobacco smoking, alcohol consumption and low physical activity, exceeding the EU average in particular for dietary risks and tobacco. Slightly more than half of all deaths in Croatia can be attributed to those behavioural risk factors.

Croatia spent 6.8 % of its GDP on health in 2017, much less than the EU average of 9.8 %. Although it is also among the three lowest spenders in the EU in terms of health spending per capita, Croatia has maintained a relatively high share of public spending, resulting in high levels of financial protection. However, levels of public debt still exert constraints on public spending on health. Furthermore, a large share of health expenditure goes to pharmaceuticals, far exceeding the EU average. Policy initiatives to address this include evolving centralised procurement for hospitals, but there is large scope for further action, such as increasing the share of generics. In contrast, a very small share of health expenditure is spent on long-term care, which is generally underdeveloped. In view of the ageing of the population, it will be important to increase the availability of community-based long-term care.

Croatia is advised to improve the strategic planning of human resources in the healthcare system, although in the country there are fewer unmet needs for medical care than on average in the Union.

In recent years, the number of doctors and nurses has increased in Croatia but they are unevenly distributed across the country, and many are either moving abroad or nearing retirement.

More health news can be found in the Lifestyle section.

Sunday, 1 December 2019

National Lung Cancer Early Detection Programme to Be Launched in January

ZAGREB, December 1, 2019 - Croatia is launching a national lung cancer early detection programme in January 2020, and for that purpose the City of Zagreb has purchased a new, state-of-the-art CT scanner for the Jordanovac Clinic for Lung Diseases, it was said at the launch of the "We are talking about lung cancer" campaign.

"Early screening will help detect the disease in an early stage, before metastasising, which gives up to 80 percent of patients a chance to live longer than five years," Marko Jakopović of the Jordanovac Clinic said.

He said that the programme would cover, among others, long-term smokers because smoking is the leading cause of this disease in Croatia.

In Croatia, lung cancer is the most frequent form of cancer in men and the third most frequent in women. Non-smoking and raising public awareness remains the best way to combat this disease. Despite the great progress made in the last ten years in treating this disease, about 3,000 people die of lung cancer annually.

"Croatia is among the top ten countries in Europe in terms of availability of lung cancer treatment drugs. Thanks to this, 50 percent of patients with metastasised lung cancer will live longer than five years. The aim of new therapies is to turn lung cancer into a chronic disease such as high blood pressure or diabetes. Immunotherapy is now available to all Croatian patients and helps them live long and have a quality life," Jakopović said.

The head of the City of Zagreb Health Office, Vjekoslav Jelač, said that for the national lung cancer early detection programme the City of Zagreb had purchased a low-dose high-resolution CT scanner that can detect even the slightest change in the lungs. He said that in the United States early scanning had reduced the mortality rate by 20 percent and improved the quality of treatment.

More health news can be found in the Lifestyle section.

Saturday, 23 November 2019

Croatian Medical Chamber Accuses Government of Ignoring Doctors' Demands

ZAGREB, November 23, 2019 - The Croatian Medical Chamber (HLK) and the doctors' union (HLS) on Saturday said in a press release that they would launch several actions in December to draw attention to the untenable status of their profession.

The HLK and HLS associations say in a press release that Prime Minister Andrej Plenković and his cabinet are turning a deaf ear to their demands.

In this context they recall that two months ago they asked the premier to hold an urgent meeting with them over "the poor and worrisome situation in the profession of doctors and in the Croatian healthcare system."

They demanded the immediate beginning of the elaboration of the legislation on pay and working hours for physicians.

The two associations today said that they had not received any answer from the premier so far.

"It is irresponsible not only to doctors but also to our patients," they say announcing a news conference for next week.

In September, the HLK, the HLS and the Croatian Doctors' Association adopted a joint statement in which they warned about the more and more deepening staff, financial, infrastructural and organisational crisis in the healthcare system.

More news about the healthcare sector in Croatia can be found in the Lifestyle section.

Friday, 15 November 2019

First Human Milk Bank Opened in Croatia

ZAGREB, November 15, 2019 - The first human milk bank was opened at Zagreb's Women's Hospital on Friday, its purpose being to provide milk donated by nursing mothers to prematurely born and seriously ill infants.

Around 2,000 children are born prematurely in Croatia every year, and around 400 need intensive health care to survive. Mother's milk has proven to be beneficial for infants owing to its unique nutritional and immunological characteristics and the milk from the bank will be given to the most vulnerable groups of babies to provide them with the best possible care and improve their chances of survival, experts said at the opening of the bank.

It is estimated that feeding the most vulnerable infants - those weighing less than 1,500 grams - requires collecting around 100,000 litres of human milk across the country. In time the bank aims to meet the demand for human milk at the level of the entire country.

Before it is used, the donated milk will have to pass the necessary checks to prove it is fit for consumption and the donors will be tested for infectious and other diseases.

For the time being, milk will be collected from women whose children are under the age of one, and all potential donors may contact the human milk bank on their own.

The bank is part of the Croatian Tissue and Cell Bank and it also includes a breastfeeding centre.

UNICEF Croatia Office head Regina M. Castillo said that thanks to donors, UNICEF had helped equip the human milk bank with equipment for the processing and storage of milk and provided for the education of health workers, and that it was currently purchasing a vehicle for the collection and distribution of donated milk.

She said that Croatia had one of the highest breastfeeding rates in Europe and the rest of the world.

The total value of the project is eight million kuna, of which five million was provided by the Health Ministry to furnish the bank's offices while UNICEF gave 3.4 million to buy the equipment. That amount includes 1.2 million bequeathed by doctor Heda Dubac Šohaj, it was said.

Having a human milk bank provides for the early development and health of children whose mothers cannot breastfeed, Health Minister Milan Kujundžić said, adding that Croatia was trying to catch up with more developed countries also in that segment of health care.

There are 239 human milk banks in Europe today. Of Croatia's neighbours, Italy has the largest number (37), Hungary has eight, and Serbia has three. Work is currently under way in Slovenia to open the first such bank.

More health news can be found in the Lifestyle section.

Tuesday, 29 October 2019

New Angiography Room Opened at Zagreb's Sisters of Mercy Hospital

ZAGREB, October 29, 2019 - A new angiography room with a state-of-the-art device for stroke treatment, bought with money from the EU Regional Development Fund, was formally opened at Zagreb's Sisters of Mercy Hospital on the occasion of World Stroke Day on Tuesday.

The device is one of five such devices bought with EU money, in the total value of 172 million kuna (22 million euro). The devices are part of an intervention neuroradiology network, designed to remove the blood clot from an acute stroke sufferer's brain as soon as possible, thus minimising the consequences of the condition and maximising chances of recovery.

Health Minister Milan Kujundžić said that this was one in a number of small steps that were being made with regard to the improvement of healthcare in the last three years.

The network of angio devices has started functioning not only in Zagreb but in Split and Rijeka as well, he said, adding that another such device would be put in operation in Osijek as well.

This puts Croatia on a par with the world's most developed countries, just as we have done in intervention cardiology, said Kujundžić.

He said efforts would be made to keep top doctors in Croatia and provide every patient with help in alleviating the consequences of vascular diseases.

Regional Development and EU Funds Minister Marko Pavić said that the total value of the five angio rooms was 172 million kuna and that Croatia had so far signed contracts with the EU for more than 1.7 billion kuna worth of work and equipment for hospitals and local health care centres.

The head of the Sisters of Mercy diagnostics and intervention radiology department, Dijana Zadravec, said that the department was capable of performing an angiography, reducing stroke damage and even preventing disability within 24 hours.

More medical news can be found in the Lifestyle section.

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