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 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.

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

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.

Sunday, 10 February 2019

Terry Fox Run Donation Presented to Ruđer Bošković Institute

ZAGREB, February 10, 2019 - A donation of 127,000 kuna (17,000 euro) raised during last year's Terry Fox Run charity event was formally presented to the Ruđer Bošković Institute's Laboratory for Hereditary Cancer at a ceremony in Zagreb on Saturday.

The formal presentation of the donation was organised by the Croatian Cancer Society and the Sveti Juraj Association of Cancer Patients as part of events marking the 25th anniversary of the World Day of the Sick.

The donation will be used by the Ruđer Bošković Institute's Laboratory for Hereditary Cancer for analysis of mutation profiles of hereditary breast and ovarian cancer to help in future therapeutic protocols.

Over 2,500 new cases of breast cancer are registered in Croatia annually, of which 200 are of a hereditary nature.

In the last 19 years, the international charity campaign the Terry Fox Run has attracted over 100,000 participants in Croatia. Last September, over 5,000 citizens joined the event at Zagreb's Lake Jarun, organisers said, thanking all the people who supported this charity effort with donations or in other ways.

The Terry Fox Run was organised, among others, by the Canadian Embassy in Croatia and the Croatian Cancer Society under the auspices of the President of the Republic, the Ministries of Health and Science, the State Office for Sport, and the Mayor of Zagreb.

This non-competitive event is organised every year in honour of Canadian athlete Terry Fox, who lost a leg to cancer. In order to raise money for treatment, in 1980 he embarked on a run across Canada, which he called the Marathon of Hope. He ran 143 days, covering 42 km a day, but failed to finish the run because the disease came back, claiming his life at 22. In his memory, the Fox family launched a drive to raise money for the fight against cancer, which is held every year in Canada and over 60 countries across the world, including Croatia.

More news on the Ruđer Bošković Institute can be found in the Lifestyle section.

Tuesday, 5 February 2019

Healthy Life Expectancy in Croatia 58.7 Years for Women, 57.1 Years for Men

ZAGREB, February 5, 2019 - The average healthy life expectancy in the European Union in 2016 was 64.2 years for women and 63.5 for men, while in Croatia it was 58.7 years for women and 57.1 for men, show figures released by Eurostat. This represents approximately 77% and 81% of the total life expectancy for women and men.

Life expectancy for women in the EU-28 was, on average, 5.4 years longer than for men in 2016. However, most of these additional years tend to be lived with activity limitations. Men tend to spend a greater proportion of their somewhat shorter lives free from activity limitations.

Across the EU member states, the country with the highest expected number of healthy life years was Sweden – 73.3 years for women and 73 years for men. At the bottom of the ranking is Latvia, with healthy life expectancy being 54.9 years for women and 52.3 years for men.

Eurostat notes that this significant difference can be partly attributed to differences in the criteria some countries use to measure health-related activity limitations.

Countries with an above-average healthy life expectancy mostly have high living standards, but there are exceptions like Bulgaria, which is in the upper part of the ranking, while Switzerland and Luxembourg, countries with the highest living standards, are below the average.

In 20 member-countries healthy life expectancy is higher for women than for men and in seven the situation is reversed.

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

Monday, 4 February 2019

Fighting Cancer a Priority for Croatian Government

ZAGREB, February 4, 2019 - Fighting cancer is the government's priority this year, which is why the adoption of a national cancer plan was included in the government's reform plan in order to raise public awareness of cancer as a big public health problem and to improve prevention, check-up rates, diagnostics and therapy, Health Minister Milan Kujundžić said on Monday on the occasion of World Cancer Day.

About 23,000 people are diagnosed with and about 11,000 die of cancer in Croatia every year.

"Today is World Cancer Day which the whole world observes and it's also the beginning of Croatian Cancer Week. Unfortunately, it is estimated that the number of cancer deaths in the world will rise from 18 million to 30 million annually over the next 20 years. In Croatia, about 23,000 people are diagnosed with cancer annually and a similar rise as in the world is predicted," Kujundžić told a press conference.

He said Croatia followed world trends in cancer treatment when it comes to new medication and that last year saw a significant rise in the procurement of diagnostic equipment.

In terms of risk factors and awareness, Croatia is ranked among the worst, while in terms of screening, diagnostics and therapy, it is in the top third of developed countries. Everything should be done to make citizens go to preventive check-ups and screenings as early detection and timely diagnosis make the disease curable.

"We are especially poor when it comes to smoking and it's well-known that one in four tumours is linked to smoking", said the minister.

There are three screening programmes in Croatia - for breast, cervical and colon cancer. Kujundžić said an increase in breast cancer screening rates from the current 60 to 80% would save 3,000 lives in Croatia annually.

According to Croatian Institute of Public Health data (HZJZ), a fifth cycle of inviting women aged 50-59 to mammogram check-ups is under way as part of the National Breast Cancer Early Detection Programme. The turnout is 60%.

The turnout to the early detection of colon cancer, to which people aged 50-74 are invited, is only 21%, while a programme for the early detection of cervical cancer is undergoing reorganisation.

Low-dose CT scanning for lung cancer is expected to begin soon, it was announced.

The head of the HZJZ Cancer Registry, Mario Šekorija, said the number of people with malignancies was constantly rising, mostly due to higher life expectancy and the increasingly high number of elderly people.

In Croatia, there are 170,000 people who had cancer at one point in their lives.

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

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