Friday, 14 May 2021

Zagreb to be Included in Producing DNA Templates

ZAGREB, 14 May, 2021 - The head of the Zagreb-based Hospital for Infectious Diseases, Alemka Markotić,  said on Friday that the European Commission would in future be authorised for the purchase and distribution of the Pfizer vaccine and that Zagreb would be one of the centres included in producing DNA templates.

That means that only mRNA vaccines will be used in the EU, not because the AstraZeneca vaccine is not of a good quality but to ensure secure production and the possibility of responding quickly to new variants of the virus given that a vaccine can be produced within 100 days, said Markotić.

In addition to a high level of antibodies that remain for about six months, it is worthwhile developing cell immunity, which need not be the case with certain vaccines, she said.

"In 2022 and 2023, Zagreb will be one of the centres that will be included in the phase of producing DNA templates, which is important for Croatia's tradition and for Zagreb regarding the production of vaccines," she underscored.

For more about health in Croatia, follow TCN's dedicated page.

Tuesday, 11 May 2021

Feasibility Study For Hospital Project in Osijek to be Prepared

ZAGREB, 11 May, 2021 - The 35 million kuna contract on the elaboration of a feasibility study for the construction of a new complex housing the hospital centre in Osijek was signed on Tuesday in that biggest eastern Croatian city.

The document on preparing the feasibility study was signed by Health Minister Vili Beroš, the Osijek Hospital Centre head, Željko Zubčić and the representative of the consortium of bidders. As many as 30 million kuna will be provided from European funds, whereas the health ministry will cover the remaining 5.2 million.

Regional Development and EU Funds minister, Nataša Tramišak, said at the contract-signing ceremony that the co-funding from the EU funds was ensured through the "Slavonia, Baranja and Srijem" project.

She said that the construction of the future hospital centre was estimated at two billion kuna, and the exact sum would be known after the Osijek hospital centre provided full information.

Zubčić said that the new hospital centre "is a greenfield investment", and would be built at a new location. He said that the new hospital complex "is a necessity for Osijek and Croatia's east.

The elaboration of the feasibility study is expected to take a year.

(€1 = HRK 7.5)

For more about health in Croatia, follow TCN's dedicated page.

 

 

Tuesday, 4 May 2021

Health Minister Vili Beroš Expects Hospitals To Provide Patients With Medical Services

ZAGREB, 4 May, 2021 - Health Minister Vili Beroš on Tuesday said that the solution to acute problem of the shortage of radiologists in two hospitals in Zagreb was within the responsibility of those hospitals and that he expects those institutions to provide patients with appropriate and immediate health services.

"The solution to the acute problem of the shortage of radiologists at the Sisters of Mercy hospital and the clinic for treating cancers, which is part of that health institution, is up to the administration at the hospital and I expect them to provide all the patients with the appropriate medical services, and in particular oncology patients and those with grave diseases," said Beroš.

He underscored that patients have to be above organisational problems of an institution.

Beroš underscored that patients must not be left without services because of organisational problems or human relationships.

"That's my clear message to directors and all their associates who are responsible for managing those processes in hospitals. Problems have to be resolved," said Minister Beroš.

He added that Croatia has an increasing number of younger radiologists with experience in working in clinical centres and health institutions that could be the core of creating a system based on the example of developed countries with advanced health systems.

"Creating an efficient system of radiology services at the country level that could provide efficient, quality and financially rational services to a larger number of health institutions that are faced with a shortage of staff such as radiologists, which surfaced in the Sisters of Mercy hospital, are an inevitable step towards resolving this and similar problems," he underscored.

He underscored that as Minister of Health he has already "launched certain activities to provide organised radiology services based on the experiences of other countries that have proved to be efficient and economically justified and are appropriate to our needs and capacities.

For more about health in Croatia, follow TCN's dedicated page.

Wednesday, 14 April 2021

Gov't and Drug Wholesalers Reach Deal on Debt Settlement

ZAGREB, 14 April, 2021 - Health Minister Vili Beroš said on Wednesday that the government and representatives of drug wholesalers had reached agreement on a debt settlement scheme.

The issue of the debt made the wholesalers restrict and defer the deliveries of medicines to hospitals in late March.

"Today's meeting is one more step towards the debt settlement," Minister Beroš said adding that only together the two sides could solve this decades-long issue which became exacerbated during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Finance Minister Zdravko Marić outlined the elements of the scheme.

In the next three months we will transfer some funds to the Croatian Agency for Health Insurance (HZZO), and the Health Ministry so as to enable the cash flow in those institutions and enable them to pay liabilities towards wholesalers and providers, Marić said adding that those funds would be ensured through the redirection and reallocation of outlays in the state budget.

The monthly allocation for hospitals will be HRK 600 million and an additional 300 million for pharmacies.

In June, the government is likely to conduct a budget revision whereby an additional cash inflow for hospitals and pharmacies will be ensured so that debt deferment period lasts no longer than 180 days for hospitals and 120 days for pharmacies.

In June alone, 135 million kuna will be directed to pharmacies and HRK 760 million to hospitals, with the plan to respect the deferment periods in the remainder of the year.

Marić hopes that this scheme will remove any need for any new meeting with wholesalers on the debt.

The finance minister also expects reform efforts in preventing any  further accumulation of liabilities and in this context he mentioned the plan to cut the deferment period to 60 days.

The wholesalers' representative Diana Percač thanked the ministers for efforts to provide funds to cover the debt.

She also pledged the continuation of the delivery of drugs to pharmacies until the end of this year.

(€1 = HRK 7.571658)

For more about politics in Croatia, follow TCN's dedicated page.

 

Wednesday, 10 March 2021

University Hospital Centre in Split Performs its First Stem Cell Transplantation

ZAGREB, 10 March, 2021 - The university hospital centre in Split recently performed its first transplant of stem cells, and the patient concerned is a 62-year-old woman, who is recovering from the surgery very well, the centre's director, Julije Meštrović said at a news conference on Wednesday.

The operation was performed 16 days ago, and this is the first time to have a stem cell transplant outside Zagreb.

This is a great success for the medical profession in Split and Croatia, he said.

Three hospitals in Zagreb perform stem cell transplants, and the first surgery of this kind was conducted in 1983.

The Split hospital expects to annually carry out 10-15 transplants of this kind.

For more about health in Croatia, follow TCN's dedicated page.

Thursday, 2 January 2020

Croatian Demographic Crisis Forcing Retired Doctors to Care for Patients

The Croatian demographic crisis continues to bite, and it's far from plumbers, electricians, mechanics and drivers that Croatia is rapidly running out of, but nurses, dentists and doctors too.

As Novac writes on the 2nd of January, 2020, for more than forty years, Dr. Željka Perić has been working in the Slavonian village of Zdenci, in the east of Virovitica-Podravina County. She acquired the conditions for early retirement back in 2010, but due to a lack of doctors owing to the Croatian demographic crisis, she has continued to work in the same office.

She is of course sorry to leave her patients without primary medical care in their village because that would mean that they have to travel ten kilometres for their care to Orahovica, and for some of them that simply isn't viable.

''Next year in September, I will turn 65 and be able to retire fully, but I'm afraid that nothing will come from that as there are no young family doctors and the clinic will be closed. If something does get organised, it will be the ''flying'' doctors who are changed every day. That type of thing is done just to put out fires and has nothing to do with medicine because the sense of family doctors is continuity,'' explained Perić, who was named the best doctor in Croatia in 2014 by the Association of Croatian Patients.

She's not the only one feeling the strain of the Croatian demographic crisis and who doesn't want to be left stranded, either. Another dozen doctors in Virovitica-Podravina County are on an ''extension'' as they say in health circles when referring to those who remain in work after 65 years of age. The average age of family doctors in Croatia is 55, and in Virovitica-Podravina County, they are older. According to the records of the Croatian Medical Chamber, the loss of doctors that will occur during this year and next year is just over 25 percent due to the age of retirement in that particular continental Croatian county.

At the moment, eight primary care clinics are stuck without a doctor, two are on specialisation and as many as fifteen of them are retiring. The Virovitica-Podravina County Health Centre has not concluded a specialist training contract with any doctor for many years, proving that the Croatian demographic crisis is not only damaging to the country's overall economy, but to the health of its waining population, too.

"In October, my office had about twenty sixth year students from the Faculty of Medicine in Osijek and none expressed a desire to stay in primary health care. They see their future in hospital specialties, meaning that the whole of Croatia will soon have major problems on the front line when it comes to health,'' Perić pointed out disappointingly.

''We had an example of a shortage of doctors in family medicine recently after the closure of Zdravko Sertić's office in Virovitica. Hundreds of his patients are now trying to enroll in the remaining teams that are already double-packed. None of the newly graduated doctors of medicine at the Health Centre requested work under supervision, which was introduced as a new form of work instead of an internship. More young doctors still working in that institution without specialisation, and even a few with completed specialisations, are preparing documentation for moving to other institutions,'' notes Berislav Bulat, president of the County Commission of the Croatian Chamber of Physicians and President of the Croatian Family Medicine Coordination Branch (KoHOM) for Virovitica-Podravina County.

The Croatian demographic crisis has caused a problem with doctors of other specialisations, too. Currently, a tender for the specialist training of doctors of medicine at Virovitica General Hospital is underway. Such tenders are repeated year after year with a demand of over thirty doctors. The actual expected turnout can be counted using the fingertips of one hand, Deutsche Welle writes.

''Although in recent years we have more and more medical doctors graduating from this area of ​​origin (in 2017 there were five, in 2018 there were eight, in 2019 there were thirteen), only a few want to stay in institutions here. They go off to other hospitals, usually to Bjelovar or to Zagreb. Similar to family medicine, there remain those who should retire because of the needs of the system, and because of poor pensions,'' said Bulat.

Virovitica-Podravina County is not far from an isolated case. The situation is similar in other parts of Croatia, but in that county, when referring to statistics, the situation is the most unfavourable.

For example, in Virovitica-Podravina County there is one doctor per 425 inhabitants, in Požega-Slavonia, one doctor for 318 patients, and in Osijek-Baranja, one doctor for 303 patients. Virovitica-Podravina County has the oldest doctors, 22 percent of them are over 60 years old, while 17 percent of doctors in Požega-Slavonia County are over 60, and in 11 percent of doctors in Osijek-Baranja are over 60.

Make sure to follow our dedicated lifestyle page for more on the Croatian demographic crisis.

Tuesday, 13 November 2018

VAT Equalisation: Bell Tolls for Purchasing OTC Drugs Over the Border?

In what will come as very welcome news for many OTC medication users across the country, the Pharmacy Chamber has stated that owing to VAT equalisation, the retail prices of OTC drugs will be reduced by an average of 17 to 18 percent.

As Marija Crnjak/Poslovni Dnevnik writes on the 12th of November, 2018, with the entry into force of the new VAT law, which will equalise the tax rate for all medicines, tax on non-prescription medicines will be reduced from 25 percent to 5 percent by the beginning of 2019, which is why their retail prices will be significantly lower and those in Croatia will hopefully cease buying their medicines over the border in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia, and Slovenia.

Additionally, pharmaceutical companies can expect the growth of the sale of these drugs owing to the tax cuts on OTC medication for which the Croatian pharmaceutical sector has been calling for years.

As it is known, the VAT equalisation regards analgesic drugs, for the treatment of gastroenterological problems, drugs for help with allergies, as well as vitamins. It should be noted that it doesn't include all vitamins, only those registered as actual medicines will see a price drop.

The equalisation of the tax rate does not bring direct benefits to producers themselves, but potential benefits may be experienced by drug distributors if they raise their sales margins, this will include both hypermarkets and pharmacies.

Despite the good news, the aforementioned VAT equalisation isn't going to come into force just yet. In Croatia, the pharmacy chamber claims that the retail prices of OTC medicines will be reduced only at the beginning of 2019.

"In addition, price reductions will be welcomed at the time of seasonal illness when the need for non-prescription drugs increases. Patients have so far been able to go to neighbouring countries for drugs to lower their temperature and reduce pain, precisely because of the price difference, where the national budget also lost out,'' they say.

Pliva explains that this change will not affect their business as VAT is a neutral item for producers, but although Pliva doesn't plan to change its producer prices, they believe this will contribute to the increased availability of non-prescription drugs.

"With this, we've become closer to most European countries where, in line with the EU guidelines, two drugs, regardless of the way they are issued, have the same tax to ensure product competitiveness and market competition,'' explains Mihael Furjan, CEO of Pliva.

For Belupo's business, whose non-prescription drugs account for around 19 percent on the Croatian market, this is very good news, as they plan to strengthen their OTC medication segment in terms of their total sales.

"Therefore, Belupo, independently and as a member of CASI (Association of Non-Receptive Products Manufacturers), actively advocated equalising the VAT rate for non-prescription drugs, led by the practice of 27 European countries applying the same VAT rate, and to all medicines, irrespective of the issuing regime, and respecting the principle of neutrality when it comes to the tax treatment of similar goods,'' they explain from Belupo.

In Rijeka, JGL argues that, with a 20 percent drop in prices, this measure should certainly stimulate self-assimilation and dismantle the withdrawal of medicines from the national insurer.

The Rijeka-based company says that in their semi-annual report, they have secured the growth of total business thanks to the growth of the OTC medication segment, which is growing faster than the domestic average.

PharmaSu also expects the higher consumption of OTC drugs.

"In addition, the state has not only boosted spending, but savings on drugs which are given on prescription, and have similar therapeutic parallels in OTC status. This is mostly related to pain and cold medicines,'' said PharmaSu's Jerko Jakšić.

Expectedly, the Association of Pharmaceutical Manufacturers at the Croatian Employers' Association has naturally welcomed the equalisation of the VAT rate, and recalls that the EU Directive on VAT permits EU member states to apply a reduced rate to pharmaceutical products for the purpose of sickness prevention and treatment. They of course expect this to have a direct and positive impact on the Croatian health system.

"Non-prescription drugs are easier to come by and more widely available than prescription drugs are, there's no waiting around and seeing doctors involved. Reducing the VAT rate on OTC medicines will make them more accessible to consumers as it will lower the cost of the drug, and will therefore reduce the pressure on prescribing medications, and this will have a positive impact on the health budget, as it's self-relieving, without burdening the system,'' they point out from this sectoral Association.

Want to keep up with more news on VAT equalisation, medicine and the domestic economy? Make sure to follow our lifestyle page for more.

 

Click here for the original article by Marija Crnjak for Poslovni Dnevnik

Monday, 13 August 2018

Crossing Borders for Medicine, Slovenia Cheaper Option?

It isn't just petrol and clothing drawing people over the borders...

Tuesday, 19 June 2018

First Emergency Clinic For Tourists Opened in Rovinj

Stepped on an urchin, been lying in the sun too long or slipped on a rock? Never fear!

Tuesday, 17 April 2018

Top Neurosurgeon Dr. Josip Paladino Finds New Job in Sveta Nedelja!

A relatively happy and deserving ending to the infuriating story of the poor treatment of one of Croatia's top neurosurgeons, Josip Paladino.

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