Tuesday, 19 April 2022

EMS Workers' Unions to Prepare Their Proposal for Emergency Medical Aid Law

ZAGREB, 19 April 2022 - Trade unions of emergency medical services workers on Tuesday held a working meting with Health Minister Vili Beroš on their demand to adopt a single law on emergency medical aid which will stipulate an accelerated retirement plan for paramedics.

The unionists expressed satisfaction with the meeting and said that they would present their proposal for an emergency medical aid bill in two weeks' time.

Unionist Danijel Šota said that a new meeting would be convened in two weeks' time to discuss the proposed drafts for this legislation that will regulate a reduced working life for EMS workers, the expansion of teams of emergency medical services, and paramedic helicopter services.

Five days ago, a few hundred protesters requested a meeting in the government on the reintroduction of an accelerated retirement plan, which was abolished during Andrija Hebrang's ministerial term of office.

They insist on a single law, following the example of relevant legislation for the police and firefighting services.

Saturday, 16 April 2022

Ombudsman Comments on Outrageous Incidents Targeting the Disabled in 2021

ZAGREB, 16 April 2022 - Ombudsman for Persons with Disabilities Anka Slonjšak has warned that in 2021 there was a rising number of incidents in which children with disabilities were exposed to discriminatory speech and that some of those cases that outraged the public, criminal proceedings were launched.

"We have warned about the cases of hate and prejudicial speech," Slonjšak said in her annual report.

In one of those cases, a child with autistic spectrum disorder was told to leave a patisserie in the town of Samobor with the explanation that "such children belong to the woods". In another case, a mother and her daughter with Down Syndrome had to leave a cafe in Zadar as they "are damaging the reputation of the cafe."

Some incidents of this kind have been the reason to press charges against bullies whose behaviour outraged the public.

The Office of Ombudsman for Persons with Disabilities monitors and promotes the rights of over 612,000 persons with disabilities, including 30,000 students with developmental disorders.

In 2021, a number of complaints lodged with the Office increased by a fifth compared to 2020.

Most complaints referred to the conduct of social welfare (502), while 329 referred to difficulties in employment and on the labour market, and 280 concerned access and mobility.

COVID takes lives of 2,500 disabled persons

During the COVID pandemic almost 110,000 of them caught coronavirus, according to the statistics kept until 9 March 2022, and approximately 2,500 died from the infection, while in Croatia so far about this infection has taken over 16,000 lives. 

The pandemic has led to the degradation of the rights of disabled citizens, the Ombudsman warns.


Saturday, 16 April 2022

Association Requests Preparation of New Law on Patients' Rights

ZAGREB, 16 April 2022 - The Croatian Association for Patients' Rights said on Friday that due to the fact that more and more complaints are being filed by patients, a new law on patients' rights should be prepared, "because the current one from 2004 is not applicable."

On the occasion of the European Day of Patients' Rights, observed on 18 April, the association issued a statement warning about "an increase in patient complaints and inadequate responses from official institutions"  which have led to "an increased number of lawsuits even outside Croatia."

The association also requests the preparation of a new law on the protection of patients' rights.

The new legislation should propose "mandatory education of health professionals in hospitals on how to respond to complaints and the institution's obligation to appoint a mediator who will resolve disputes between health professionals and patients." It also asks the introduction of sanctions for the violation of patients' rights.

The association demands that it should be "granted public authority so that in addition to internal investigations, an official investigation of patients' complaints can be conducted" by the association "as the only independent institution in the Republic of Croatia, which is also protected by copyright."

The association recalls that earlier this month an initiative called " Patient Ombudsman" was launched to educate healthcare workers about patients' rights and that so far six Croatian hospitals have been granted the status of European Patient Partnership:  KBC Split, KBC Rijeka, KB Sveti Duh, OB Dubrovnik, OB Pula and the hospital for lung diseases in Zagreb's Rockefellerova Street.

For more, check out our lifestyle section.


Thursday, 7 April 2022

World Health Day in Croatia: Our Planet, Our Health

April 7, 2022 – World Health Day is marked under the slogan "Our planet, our health". This year, the data from a large European study reveals the prevalence and incidence of the most common diseases.

HRT reports on the situation in Croatia, where as many as one million and two hundred thousand people have hypertension, while ten percent of the population has diabetes and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. These are data from the first such research in Croatia as part of a European project on the incidence of the most common diseases. This year's World Health Day aims to raise awareness of the impact of the environment on human health.

The most common diseases in Croatia are hypertension, chronic lung diseases, and diabetes

Hypertension, chronic lung diseases, and diabetes are the most common diseases of the elderly population in Croatia, according to data on population morbidity presented by the Croatian Institute of Public Health (HZJZ) for the first time today on World Health Day.

These are data for Croatia collected as part of the Eurostat project "Morbidity Statistics", with the aim of determining the incidence of certain conditions and diseases as determined by the European Commission.

The collected data shows that almost a third of the Croatian population suffers from hypertension, and this share increases significantly in the elderly population - eight out of ten people over the age of 65 have some of the diseases in this group.

Chronic lung diseases also affect the elderly population, with data showing that one in ten people over the age of 65 suffer from such diseases.

The research once again proved a high presence of diabetes among the population: almost 10 percent of the Croatian population suffers from diabetes, with a rise to a quarter of the population over 65.

High prevalence of mood disorders, anxiety, arthrosis, dementia ...

Mood disorders (affective disorders), which were diagnosed in 6.6 percent of the population, also have a high prevalence. They are twice as common in women as in the male population (8.7 percent versus 4.4 percent) and are most often diagnosed in women over 50.

The situation is similar when it comes to anxiety disorders. They are twice as common in women as in men (16.7 percent versus 8.3 percent), and especially affect the female population after the age of 50.

Osteoarthritis has a relatively high prevalence - 10.8 percent of the population, ischemic heart disease - 5.8 percent and cerebrovascular disease - 2.9 percent.

The prevalence of dementia (including Alzheimer's disease) in the age group over 60 is 2.9 percent, with it being twice as common in women after the age of 70.

The reference period was from 2015 to 2017, data were collected from 1 March 2019 to 1 September 2020. In addition to Croatia, a number of countries took part in the project, including Belgium, Germany, Finland, France, Hungary, Lithuania, Malta, the Netherlands, and Poland.

The publication is the beginning of systematic data collection on the frequency of leading public health problems in Croatia based on prevalence (total number of cases) and incidence (number of new cases), not just on the use of health care, which is a big qualitative step in national health statistics.

“The World Health Organization estimates that more than thirteen million deaths worldwide, including 1.4 million deaths in the European Region of the World Health Organization are related to avoidable environmental factors”, said Primarius Iva Pejnović Franelić, MD, Ph.D. of the Croatian office of the World Health Organization.

For more, make sure to check out our lifestyle section.

Tuesday, 22 March 2022

This Year's World Water Day Dedicated to Groundwater

ZAGREB, 22 March 2022 - This year, World Water Day, which is observed on 22 March, is dedicated groundwater, which Croatia treats as its special asset.

Over 90% of water used for water supply systems in Croatia comes from groundwater, according to a press release issued by the Economy and Sustainable Development Ministry on Tuesday when World Water Day was celebrated under the slogan "Making the Invisible Visible".

Croatia's renewable underground resources are estimated at some 22.43 billion cubic metres per year. Also, the quality of groundwater in the country is high.

The ministry also notes that under the 2014-2020 Competitiveness and Cohesion Programme, a greenlight has been given to a total of 60 projects concerning the improvement of wastewater and water management system in Croatia.

Their total value is HRK 25.8 billion, and admissible costs are put at HRK 20.5 billion, of which HRK 14.4 billion is covered by grants from the EU funds.

The completion of those 60 projects will enable 575,000 Croatians to get access to safe drinking water from the public water supply system, and approximately 2.5 million inhabitants will be provided with the improved wastewater and water purification systems.

As many as 1,700 kilometres of water supply networks and also 4,100 kilometres of public drainage systems will be constructed or upgraded.

Croatia has 25 billion cubic metres of surface water supply. Of that 23 percent refers to sources, streams and rivers springing and pouring into on Croatian territory.

All natural and artificial streams in Croatia are some 32,000 kilometres long on the aggregate.

(€1 = HRK 7.564472)

Saturday, 12 March 2022

Colorectal Cancer First in Terms of New Cases Diagnosed Annually

ZAGREB, 12 March 2022 - Colorectal cancer is first in Croatia in terms of cases diagnosed every year and only 20% to 30% of citizens respond to calls for screenings, it was said on Saturday at an event marking Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month.

"We have about 3,600 new cases annually and about 10% of people daily get this disease," said Krunoslav Capak, director of the Croatian Institute of Public Health (HZJZ).

This is the most frequent cancer in Croatia at the moment and we should all fight against it together through prevention and a healthier lifestyle, he added.

This year Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month is being marked for the first time under a decision of the Croatian parliament in order to highlight the importance of screenings.

In 2007, Croatia introduced a programme for colorectal cancer screening for adults aged between 50 and 74, and according to relevant statistics, residents in coastal areas seem least ready to undergo this test.

In Croatia, six people die of this disease daily on average and between 2,000 and 2,100 annually. 

The HZJZ said recently that in the coastal counties, except Zadar County, the turnout for the colorectal cancer screening is under the Croatian average.

Regular screening reduces the risk of developing colorectal cancer.

The mortality rate can be reduced provided that those aged between 50 and 74 undergo regular tests and follow doctors' orders.

The HZJZ said that this would be conducive to efforts to save 1,000-1,500 patients annually.


Saturday, 12 March 2022

Capak: Relaxation of COVID Restrictions Still Being Considered

ZAGREB, 12 March 2022 - Croatian Public Health Institute director Krunoslav Capak said on Saturday that the possible relaxation of coronavirus restrictions, announced for next week, was still being carefully considered given a slight increase in new cases in recent days.

"Since we have had a slight increase in infections, I cannot say if there will be a further relaxation of measures," Capak told reporters in Zagreb during a public health campaign marking Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month.

Even though some media outlets have announced that the restrictions on hospitality establishments will be eased and that nightclubs will be allowed to stay open until 2 am, Capak did not confirm this.

"A possible relaxation is still being considered, and what is certain is that COVID passes will remain mandatory for healthcare and social welfare services," he said.

The slight increase in new cases will be taken into account in deciding on the relaxation of restrictions, and Capak said that Croatia was not an isolated case in this regard as most European countries were in a similar situation.

One of the reasons is the more infectious BA.2 subvariant of the Omicron variant of the SARS-CoV-2 virus, which is becoming dominant in western Europe, people thinking that the epidemic is over, resumption of school classes, and cold weather, as a result of which people spend more time indoors.

Capak noted that the slight increase in new infections did not mean the beginning of a new wave of the epidemic and that it was yet to be seen what would happen in the coming days.

"The increase in new infections is a warning that the epidemic is not over and that we should comply with the epidemiological measures which are still in force," Capak said, adding that the turnout for vaccination was not satisfactory.

"People have given up, they are still postponing vaccination thinking that the epidemic is over. There are enough vaccines and vaccination should continue because it is a very powerful weapon," Capak said, calling on people to observe hygiene rules, wear face masks, maintain a physical distance and air out their rooms.

Thursday, 10 March 2022

World Kidney Day: It's Time for National Detection Plan

ZAGREB, 10 March 2022 - World Kidney Day was marked on Thursday at the Croatian Medical Association with the message about the importance of prevention and for a national action plan to be launched in Croatia for the early detection of chronic kidney disease, which is something that one in ten adults contract.

Chronic kidney disease does not have any symptoms, it is not painful and remains undetected, which is why it is important to launch a national early detection programme, the president of the Croatian Association for Nephrology, Dialysis and Transplantation, Mario Laganović, told a press conference.

World Kidney Day, which is marked on the second Thursday in March, was marked in Croatia for the 17th year in a row and this year's slogan is "With knowledge to better care of kidney patients."

Laganović presented the results of an initial screening programme for early detection of chronic kidney disease that was conducted in 40 family doctors' offices throughout Croatia. The screening encompassed 428 at-risk patients with high blood pressure, diabetes, obesity and a family history of kidney disease.

Undetected kidney damage was identified in 23% of the patients, which indicates that its frequency among at-risk groups is much higher than in the general population.

"The results speak in favour of the need for a programme to be launched at the national level for early detection and treatment of chronic kidney diseases such as those which already exist for diabetes, heart disorders and malignant diseases," Laganović said.

His colleague Lada Zibar called on those in power to dedicate attention to kidneys for the sake of the well-being of patients but also for the healthcare system because the cost of haemodialysis for a patient costs between HRK 100,000 and 150,000 a year.

For more, check out our lifestyle section.


Tuesday, 1 March 2022

Number of Organ Transplants In Croatia In 2021 Up 26.5% Despite Pandemic

ZAGREB, 1 March 2022 - Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, the number of organ transplants in Croatia increased by 26.5% in 2021 compared with 2020, according to data provided by the Health Ministry.

There were 121 donors, and 268 solid organs were transplanted, or 65.4 organs per million people.

A total of 124 kidney, 34 heart, 9 lung and 104 liver transplants were successfully performed. The number of kidney transplants increased by 26%, of liver transplants by 9.5% and of heart transplants by 36%.

The largest number of transplants were performed by Zagreb's Merkur and KBC hospitals - 144 and 88 respectively. Among the clinical hospitals, Zagreb's Sisters of Charity Hospital had the largest number of registered donors (23), while among the general hospitals the one in the northern city of Varaždin led with 17 donors.

Even though the organ transplantation programme was briefly suspended because of the coronavirus pandemic, Croatia remained one of the world's most successful countries in organ donation and transplantation.

A lung transplantation programme was launched in April 2021 and by the end of the year nine lung transplants were successfully performed on Croatian recipients, the ministry said.

Tuesday, 8 February 2022

HDZ Official Rules Out Scrapping COVID Passes

ZAGREB, 8 Feb 2022 - Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ) vice president Branko Bačić said on Tuesday that the current epidemiological situation did not allow for a possible revocation of COVID passes.

"It's neither under discussion nor consideration," Bačić said in response to reporters' questions if the authorities are considering doing away with COVID certificates.

He recalled that the current epidemiological situation, including a rate of only 67% of fully vaccinated persons and the current incidence rate, were not conducive to plans to ease the restrictions.

Since the introduction of the COVID certificate mandate in the public sector, approximately 120,000 asymptomatic citizens have been diagnosed with coronavirus.

He said that vaccination rates in the countries that are now thinking of scrapping COVID passes are much higher than in Croatia.

There is no country in Europe that has completely done away with COVID certificates,  he said.

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