Sunday, 26 June 2022

New National Addiction Action Strategy in Final Stage of Preparation

ZAGREB, 26 June 2022 - Health Minister Vili Beroš announced on Sunday that the new National Addiction Action Strategy was in its final stage of preparation.

The main aspects of the new strategy will be presented at a round table on addiction-related policies in Zagreb on Monday.

"The price of drug addiction, which is paid by the citizens of Croatia and other EU countries, is very high, given addiction-related allocations for public health," Beroš said on the occasion of the International Day against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking, observed on 26 June.

Drug addiction is one of the longest-standing threats to our society, directly and indirectly affecting the lives of millions of people, and the struggle against addiction requires a multidisciplinary and integrated approach at the national, local, and international levels, he said.

Within 30 days of the adoption of the strategy by parliament, the government will adopt an action plan for 2022-2026 specifying steps in the implementation of the defined measures, the Health Ministry said in a press release.

The European survey on smoking, drinking and drug use among students, cited in the press release, shows that Croatia is above the European average regarding the use of illegal substances among young people.

"Specifically, 21 percent of students said they have tried drugs at least once in their lives, mostly cannabis. As for the use of new psychoactive substances, Croatia is also above the European average, with 5.1 percent against 3.4 percent in the EU," the press release said.

Particularly alarming is the finding that 17 percent of 15-year-olds have tried marijuana at least once in their lives.

The negative trends in drug use and a dynamic market that produces new psychoactive substances at a great speed multiply health risks to citizens, which adversely affects the clinical picture of the nation, Beroš said.

He said that the National Strategy is consistent with the National Health Development Plan 2021-2027 and the reform measures promoting prevention and healthy lifestyle habits.

For more, check out our politics section.

Tuesday, 21 June 2022

Gov't Rejects Motion for Discussion on Vote of No Confidence in Health Minister

ZAGREB, 21 June 2022 - The Croatian government on Tuesday sent an opinion to the parliament proposing that it should reject a motion by 32 opposition MPs to discuss giving Health Minister Vili Beroš a vote of no confidence.

In its opinion the government comments on allegations from the motion, describing them as unfounded and noting that there was no ground to vote no confidence in the health minister.

The government also sent the parliament a final bill on cultural councils and on the financing of public needs in culture, which envisages combining the laws on cultural councils, financing of public needs in culture and management of public institutions in culture in a single law to simplify and more efficiently regulate the area in question.

It also adopted four conclusions to help residents of earthquake-struck areas, extending a write-off of electricity bills for customers in earthquake-struck areas until the end of the year. The total cost of the measure is estimated at HRK 8 million.

The government also extended the toll-free use of A11 Zagreb-Sisak motorway as well as free train transport for residents of the earthquake-affected Sisak-Moslavina County and employees of services participating in the provision of assistance and removal of the consequences of the 2020 earthquakes in the county.

The amount of road tolls not to be collected in the next six months is estimated at HRK 16.5 million, including VAT, and the cost of free transport by train at some HRK 12 million.

The government also instructed the HRT public broadcaster to write off TV licence fees for residents of earthquake-struck areas.

For more, check out our politics section.

Sunday, 19 June 2022

Health Ministry Decides on New Croatian Immunology Institute Location

June the 19th, 2022 - The much-talked-about Croatian Immunology Institute is one step closer to coming to fruition now that the involved ministries have chosen a location for the future facility.

As Poslovni Dnevnik/Marija Crnjak writes, through the joint efforts of the Ministry of Health, the Ministry of Physical Planning, Construction and State Property and the Immunology Institute, a solution was reached by which the Rugvica business zone near Zagreb will become the permanent home of the new Croatian Immunology Institute, the Ministry of Health reported recently.

''In the context of legal challenges we faced with the previous chosen location, we've made a significant step forward in continuing this strategic project and have shown the strong will and determination of the Croatian Government, the Ministry of Health and the Croatian Immunology Institute to remain committed to revitalising the Immunology Institute as an important institution in this country,'' said Health Minister Beros on the occasion of this decision.

With this decision, the Municipality of Rugvica, as the owner, donates to the Croatian Immunological Institute, land in the Rugvica working zone - north, 69,761 m2 with a potential minimum minimum size of 20,000 m3 for the construction of an entire biological drug factory, the construction of a separate plant for antitoxins, and plants for the production of animal immunosera intended for both human and animal use with the primary purpose of producing antitoxins for the venom of European snakes.

This Decision was preceded by a statement from the State Attorney's Office of the Republic of Croatia, the Ministry of the Economy and Sustainable Development, and the Ministry of Physical Planning, Construction and State Property found no legal obstacles in terms of Article 391 of the Property and Other Real Rights Act.

The construction of the entire factory will begin in no later than two years time, while the estimated construction time to the stage of functionality is nine months from the positive completion of the public tender, ie the selection of all of the contractors by tender. The method of construction of the production plant will be prefabricated modular segments of clean rooms designed and built outside the building and connected and formed inside the building, preceded by a series of preliminary works, from obtaining the necessary permits, evaluating the conceptual design and final design of the main project.

At the same time, a public tender has been prepared for publication for the construction of a new biopharmaceutical plant for the production of animal immunosera, ie drugs intended for both human and veterinary use with the primary purpose of producing antitoxins for European snake venom.

As the Croatian Immunology Institute has permits for animal testing, as well as breeding permits, there are some basic preconditions for building a plant for processing hyperimmune equine (horse) plasma within the new factory, as a complete unit in one location, where the processing, filling and equipping would take place. The existing resources on the farm in Sveta Nedelja will be used for all of the above.

"The Croatian Immunology Institute is the flagship of our science and deserves all possible interdepartmental efforts. The easiest thing in the world to do is to simply declare the end and throw in the towel at the first sign of any obstacles that understandably appeared due to the complexity of this project. We've chosen a harder but more correct way of going about things, we've taken an additional step forward and together we've found a solution to continue the revitalisation of the Croatian Immunology Institute.

In order to restore its reputation and further position it on the international map of leading manufacturers of vaccines for various purposes, as well as other products in demand in this market segment, in the first phase, vaccines against measles and rubella will be produced, as these are products needed by both the Croatian and world markets,'' concluded Minister Vili Beros, adding that this country now the opportunity to meet the preconditions for its own production of antitoxins, which would make Croatia self-sufficient in the production of snake antidote, which is especially in demand during the summer tourist season when bites are more common.

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

Saturday, 21 May 2022

Croatian Hospitals Costs Are Five Times Higher than Last Year

May 21, 2022 - The costs of Croatian hospitals have skyrocketed. Bills are up to five times higher than last year, so an additional 3.5 billion kuna provided to the Croatian healthcare system from the recent rebalance of the state budget won't be enough to cover expenses.

Even after the rebalance of the state budget, which will provide the healthcare system with an additional three and a half billion kuna this year, which means that instead of the planned 32 billion it will now have 35 and a half billion kunas, hospital directors still say that this will be a difficult year with much uncertainty due to a lot of unknowns in expenses, reports Index.hr.

Namely, the recent warning of wholesalers that debts for medicines continue to grow despite last year's injection of 6.3 billion from the state budget and that they reached as much as six billion kunas, of which four billion are due, is the reason for this early rebalance. Two billion is intended for Croatian hospitals, and one and a half billion for the Croatian Health Insurance Fund for the settlement of old debts.

Bills are five times higher than last year

For now, it is certain to say that 35.5 billion kunas for this year will not cover all costs, which is confirmed by Croatian hospitals bills from the first four months of 2022. They stand out especially for energy, food, and medicine, which in some cases are five times higher than in the same period last year. Therefore, it is not surprising that the losses of the system on a monthly basis are between 400 and 500 million kunas, which could mean a hole in the health fund of at least five billion kunas by the end of the year.

"Our costs increased in the first four months of this year compared to the same period last year by a total of 5.52 percent. But worrying is the fact that energy costs increased the most, by as much as percent, or from 7.8 to 15 million kunas. The cost of food products grew by 8.4 percent, and compared to 2020 by 40 percent, which is a huge increase'', said Dr. Alen Ruzic, director of KBC Rijeka.

Medicines haven't kept the previous numbers of consumption either, so in the first four months, they were 7.76 percent more expensive than last year, and by almost 20 percent compared to 2020.

In the largest Croatian hospital, KBC Zagreb, costs increased by 6.5 percent or HRK 71 million from January to the end of April compared to the same period last year, as it increased from HRK 1,099 billion to HRK 1,171 billion.

During the pandemic, KB Dubrava was a COVID hospital, so some data from last year jumped out of the usual amounts, such as spending on drugs, which were lower than spending in previous years when the hospital was operating at full capacity for all patients. But it is clear that this hospital pays for the largest energy guild, especially the one for gas.

For more, check out our politics section.

Friday, 20 May 2022

Beroš Ordered a List of Croatian Doctors with Conscientious Objection

May 20, 2022 - In an effort to dig deeper into the situation of termination of pregnancy in Croatia, Health Minister Vili Beroš requested last week a list of Croatian doctors who refused to perform abortions owing to conscientious objection. However, according to Croatian media reports, the Ministry always had this list and knew the number.

Last week, Health Minister Vili Beroš asked hospital directors to list all healthcare workers who invoke conscientious objection and refuse to terminate a pregnancy to determine if hospital functioning is compromised, reports Telegram.hr. The move gives the impression that the minister wants to do something after being embroiled in the controversial Čavajda affair but, as Jutarnji list reported in its print edition, Beroš already knew that more than half of doctors in Croatia have a conscientious objection.

When Jutarnji found out that the Minister had asked hospitals to list their employed doctors who have a conscientious objection to abortion, the Ministry did not answer their question, and Beroš did not answer the question of MP Anka Mrak Taritaš, who asked on April 20 how many doctors refused to assist women in the legal termination of pregnancy, which is something guaranteed by law.

Namely, out of a total of 359 hospital gynecologists in Croatia, 164 gynecologists agree to perform abortions/terminations of pregnancy for women until the tenth week of gestation, which is legally regulated and legal, and 195 refuse to do so. Beroš admitted this to RTL on May 9, two days before asking the directors of the country's hospitals to list their doctors with conscientious objections to performing abortions.

''Conscience appeal and termination of pregnancy do not exclude each other''

Beroš then said that in that case "outpatient gynecologists are to be hired in the requested hospital or in the nearest healthcare institution in accordance with the law.''

When asked by Jutarnji whether it makes sense to ask hospitals (yet again) for a list of conscientious objectors when they already know how many refuse to terminate pregnancies, and whether or not the plan is to do something so that women can exercise their legally guaranteed right, the Ministry sent them the same answer as they did to RTL more than ten days ago.

They only added that "they periodically collect data with the aim of actively managing the processes for the benefit of patients and that the right to abortion and to conscientious objection are not mutually exclusive and institutions are obliged to find conditions for exercising both rights." However, Mirela Čavajda could not exercise her legal right in Croatia, so she had to go to Slovenia for her abortion.

For more, check out our politics section.

Monday, 16 May 2022

Ministry: Procedural Omissions at Two Hospitals in Čavajda Case

ZAGREB, 16 May 2022 - The Ministry of Health said on Monday that a health inspection had been completed, with regard to the case of pregnant patient Mirela Čavajda, at the KB Sveti Duh Hospital and the Sisters of Charity Hospital in Zagreb and that procedural omissions had been established.

A health inspection by the Health Ministry was conducted at the KB Sveti Duh Hospital, the Sisters of Charity Hospital, and the KB Merkur Hospital. After the entire documentation was reviewed and talks were conducted with the employees of the hospitals, it was established there were procedural omissions at the KB Sveti Duh and Sisters of Mercy hospitals, and the health inspectorate will take further measures, the ministry said in a press release.

It was determined that the patient was provided with all available healthcare in accordance with the profession and legal provisions in Croatia.

Inspection also at private healthcare facility that provided pregnancy care

In order to establish all relevant facts in this complex case, the health inspectorate decided it was also necessary to conduct an inspection at the private healthcare facility where the patient was provided with health services during her pregnancy.

With regard to the irregularities at the KB Sveti Duh Hospital, non-compliance with the legal procedure of the first-instance commission was established, which was subsequently corrected and sent to a second-instance commission at the KBC Zagreb Hospital. At the Sisters of Charity Hospital, which the patient contacted via her attorney, upon making the first-instance decision, there was a failure to inform the patient of her right to contact the KBC Zagreb Hospital as a second-instance body.

For more, check out our politics section.

Monday, 16 May 2022

400 Croatian Ambulance Drivers Go On Strike

ZAGREB, 16 May 2022 - About 400 ambulance drivers and paramedics went on strike on Monday saying they will continue striking until their demands are met and their pay is aligned with that of drivers in the medical system, with shop steward Vladimir Markuš saying that the Health Ministry pushed them into the strike.

"The consequences of the strike will be visible already today and even more tomorrow. We are going until our demands are met, but unfortunately, the Health Ministry has literally pushed us into this strike," Markuš told Hina.

The strikers are calling for a regulation that would align their earnings at the country level because now their wages vary up to HRK 1,500 in some cases, depending on which county they are in.

Ambulance drivers are striking in several counties and cities.

About 400 ambulance drivers are on strike at local health clinics, while another 300 drivers at emergency medical centers in seven counties, who are not allowed to strike, are working to rule.

Markuš added that the only response strikers received from the ministry were that Minister Vili Beroš was "away today" and he had made a statement yesterday.

"The minister is calling for care for Croatian citizens who will not be getting their rights, yet he contributed to the fact that many people have not been able to exercise their rights. Patients have been waiting for MRI tests for up to a year and a half. These people are being deprived," Markuš said.

"We will not leave patients without care. Those needing transport will get it but those who are not urgent cases won't because only about 30% of drivers are working and they cannot handle all that work," added Markuš.

Markuš appealed to the ministry to resolve their problem so that the system does not collapse.

"We are waiting for the competent authorities to do their job and adopt a regulation on indexation. As soon as it is adopted, we will cease the strike," Markuš said.

For more, check out our politics section.

Sunday, 15 May 2022

Minister Comments on Strike, Says Won't Tolerate Patients Being Denied Healthcare

ZAGREB, 15 May 2022 - Health Minister Vili Beroš said on Sunday, ahead of a strike of non-emergency ambulance drivers set for Monday, that he supports any protest that is in line with the law but that he will not tolerate patients being denied the right to health care.

Some of the non-emergency ambulance drivers have announced a strike for Monday, to last until their demands are met and a regulation is adopted that would make their wages even throughout the country as currently they differ up to HRK 1,500, depending on the county where they work.

The minister said a solution was being defined with all the relevant stakeholders, recalling that last year the government and the health ministry launched dialogue with unions and showed the will to resolve the problem.

He added that there was therefore no reason to strike or take action that would be to the detriment of patients and that he expected local clinics and non-emergency ambulance drivers to continue providing regular services so that a solution to their problem could be found in a constructive and peaceful atmosphere.

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

Friday, 6 May 2022

Ministry Requests Information From Hospitals on Pregnancy Termination Case

ZAGREB, 6 May (2022) - The Health Ministry said on Thursday that it requested the four Zagreb hospitals where 39-year-old Mirela Čavajda had asked for a pregnancy termination after her unborn baby was diagnosed with an aggressive brain tumour, to send it information about the case.

Čavajda contacted four Zagreb hospitals, of which the KB Sveti Duh Hospital and the Sisters of Charity Hospital refused to perform the procedure, while the KB Merkur Hospital and the Hospital for Women's Diseases, popularly known as Petrova, have still not sent her any answer.

"The Health Ministry has requested the medical institutions contacted by the patient, which reportedly did not provide her with timely and accurate information about her options, to provide information on the case. Depending on further findings, the Ministry will make a decision on possible further steps from within the remit of the healthcare inspectorate," the ministry said.

It noted that every woman has the right to abort in cases where there are medical indications.

"The Health Ministry draws the attention of all health institutions to their duty to provide timely and accurate information to patients on their rights and the options they have in Croatia," the ministry said.

Zagreb Mayor Tomislav Tomašević on Thursday condemned the case as discrimination of women, announcing that the management of the Sveti Duh Hospital, of which the City of Zagreb is the founder and where all gynecologists are conscientious objectors, would secure conditions for all types of pregnancy termination at the hospital as soon as possible.

He also noted that the hospital's director had formed a commission to establish the circumstances of the case.

 For more, check out our politics section.

Wednesday, 20 April 2022

First Phase of Healthcare Reform Under Way, Health Minister Says

ZAGREB, 20 April 2022 - Health Minister Vili Beroš said on Wednesday that the first phase of the healthcare reform was under way and that the reform would provide for a new way of paying for healthcare by taking into account service quality.

The proposal to amend the Healthcare Act and the Mandatory Health Insurance Act will be finished by June and put to public consultation, Beroš said in Parliament in response to Social Democratic Party (SDP) MP Andreja Marić who warned about a number of unresolved issues faced by the healthcare system.

The second phase will include the amendment of subsidiary legislation and the adjustment of the network of public health services, he added.

"I know you are impatient, but these changes have been waiting for decades and a time frame of several months is irrelevant," the health minister said.

He said that the reform would provide for a new way of agreeing and paying for healthcare by taking into account service quality.

"So far we have been paying for healthcare in an inadequate way. We have been paying for someone to do that work and from now on we need to start paying for how the work is done," Beroš said.

For more, check out our politics section.

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