Thursday, 22 April 2021

Health Minister Vili Beroš Says 230,000 Vaccine Doses to Arrive Weekly As of May

ZAGREB, 22 April, 2021 - Health Minister Vili Beroš said at a government session on Thursday that as of 1 May, 230,000 doses of COVID-19 vaccines would be arriving in Croatia on a weekly basis, calling on citizens to register for vaccination.

"The pressure on hospitals has been growing, notably by younger patients. The number of hospitalisations and patients on ventilators continues to grow. The average age of hospitalised patients is 66.7, 15% are people under the age of 50, 15% are people aged 50-59 while the rest are people above 60," said Beroš.

Third vaccination phase to start soon

The minister noted that the arrival of a larger quantity of vaccines during May and June would facilitate the process of vaccination.

Public health institutes have been instructed to include in the vaccination process all health institutions and private medical workers in the public health service network, and to organise, along with vaccination in family medicine offices, mobile vaccination teams and a sufficient number of vaccination points as well as to use civil protection, army and other resources in the process.

The vaccination plan for priority groups will be finished next week and the third phase of vaccination will begin, Beroš said.

So far, 902,670 vaccine doses have arrived in Croatia and 80% of them have been administered. A vaccination rate of above the average 14.2% has been achieved in age groups above 60, he said.

Prime Minister Andrej Plenković called on elderly people to register for vaccination, saying that a half of the country's adult population should be vaccinated by June 30.

"There will be enough vaccines, I call on all citizens to call their family doctors, register on the vaccination platform so that we can contribute together to health security," Plenković said.

"As many as 77% of people who have died of COVID-19 in Croatia since the start of the pandemic were aged above 70 and 93% were people older than 60. We call on all citizens who are above the age of 60, 70 to register for vaccination," the PM said.

The head of the national coronavirus crisis management team, Minister of the Interior Davor Božinović, said that there had been no changes to epidemiological restrictions at the national level, that existing restrictions had been extended, as had been most of those introduced by local crisis management teams.

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

Wednesday, 21 April 2021

Health Minister Beroš: "Problems Aren't Solved By Minister Stepping Down"

ZAGREB, 21 April, 2021 - Health Minister Vili Beroš on Wednesday commented on an opposition motion for his resignation, saying he is not interested in keeping his ministerial position at any cost and that current problems in healthcare will not be solved with his departure but require a broad political consensus of all.

"It is the opposition's political position to question and criticise. I have never had any problems with constructive criticism, in fact, I consider it motivating. However, I have a problem with unfounded accusations and insinuations that have conveniently intensified ahead of the local election," Beroš said in a Facebook post.

The opposition, he added, has unusually focused on the health sector and him personally, who have been fighting against the COVID-19 epidemic for more than a year now.

"I cannot accept that because for more than a year now we have been intensively combatting the COVID-19 epidemic which cannot be compared to any other previous challenge. I am not looking for an excuse, I am just describing the current situation during which activities are simultaneously  being conducted towards restructuring the system to make it sustainable in the long run. The opposition's manoeuvres take us away from that aim and I wonder just how ready it is to support real changes in the healthcare system so that it can be better for all Croatian citizens," said Beroš.

He noted that the opposition had an opportunity to resolve the existing problems but that did not happen. "In fact, with its inactivity it contributed to deepening the existing problems. I'm not interested in keeping my minister's 'seat' at any cost, however, I do not have the habit of leaving an unfinished job. The problems in healthcare cannot be resolved with the health minister's resignation but through a national consensus of all political options," concluded Beroš.

Opposition parties in parliament on Wednesday unanimously agreed that Beroš has to go and they expressed readiness to support the Social Democratic Party's (SDP) motion for a vote of no confidence in the minister. The opposition said that the motion will be launched soon but that it will allow Beroš some time to think about everything that has happened in healthcare and give him an opportunity to step down.

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

 

Wednesday, 21 April 2021

Opposition: Health Minister Beroš Has To Go

ZAGREB, 21 April, 2021 - Opposition parties in parliament on Wednesday unanimously agreed that Health Minister Vili Beroš has to go and they expressed readiness to support the Social Democratic Party's (SDP) motion for no confidence in the health minister.

"There is a consensus among the opposition that Health Minister Vili Beroš has to go," SDP leader Peđa Grbin said after a meeting of opposition parties.

Grbin: We are giving Beroš an opportunity to step down

The motion will be launched soon but we will allow Beroš some time to think about everything that has occurred in healthcare and give him an opportunity to step down, said Grbin.

He denied that the motion was being launched as part of SDP's electioneering ahead of the 16 May elections, saying that this had to do with the health of Croatian citizens.

"The man who allowed hospitals to not be delivered medicines, for the debt in healthcare to escalate and who is being connected to numerous wrongdoings in public procurement in the hospital system, simply cannot be the health minister," underscored Grbin.

Grbin said that Prime Minister Andrej Plenković should think carefully in future about his criteria when selecting cabinet ministers.

Sandra Benčić of the Green-Left bloc said that she supports the no-confidence motion against Beroš but that Plenković too should be held responsible, who in the end is responsible for the entire situation in healthcare.

"It's clear that the prime minister will fervently defend his minister and then a month or two later when it is more politically opportune, he will call for his resignation. That is the prime minister's modus operandi. He expends people and then throws them out like an old rag and covers up his bad decisions with them," said Benčić.

Benčić: Opposition will prepare an expert analysis

She announced that in preparing the no-confidence motion, the opposition will prepare an expert analysis regarding access to therapy, medicines, the way the system is managed and of the Cijepise (Get vaccinated) application.

"Spending money in healthcare that way during the greatest ever crisis is equal to war profiteering," she claimed.

She too denied that this is all part of electioneering ahead of the local election.

Stephen Nikola Bartulica of the Homeland Movement said (DP) said that: "we are opening important topics and it is up to the prime minister to make serious moves. Instead of being a statesman and making courageous decisions he is a 'spin doctor' in Government House and releases cheap spins to the public every day."

The healthcare system is not being managed well and that practice has to change and reforms need to be urgently implemented, he added.

Hrelja: HSU supports motion to oust Beroš

Silvano Hrelja of the Pensioners' Party (HSU) said that the party supports the motion to oust Beroš, denying speculation that HSU would join the ruling majority.

"Cooperation on projects exists but there is no coalition there," said Hrelja.

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

Monday, 19 April 2021

SDP Plans No-Confidence Vote in Health Minister

ZAGREB, 19 April, 2021 - The Social Democratic Party plans to talk with other opposition parties this week about a no-confidence vote in Health Minister Vili Beroš due to the many problems and omissions in his department, with SDP leader Peđa Grbin saying on Monday it was his "obligation to react to such obscenities."

Speaking to Hina, he said that if for no other reason, Beroš should be given a vote of no confidence because recently hospitals remained without drugs.

Grbin said "the debt in healthcare has reached unbelievable levels" and mentioned "the disorder" with the online platform for COVID-19 vaccination, adding also that Beroš "claims he has prepared the health reform and given it to (PM Andrej) Plenković, Plenković says that isn't true, which means that one of them is lying."

Grbin is not discouraged by the estimate that the ruling majority will most likely reject the no-confidence vote, saying that "our obligation to the people who gave us their trust is to react to such obscenities."

Minister responsible for lack of reforms

Homeland Movement whip Stephen Bartulica said his party had been critical of Beroš's performance for a long time.

"We'll see in consultations with other opposition parties if we'll ask for a no-confidence vote in Beroš, but I think we have a number of reasons for putting that item on the agenda."

We are for a debate on the situation in healthcare and the minister's responsibility, and we think parliament will respond well to that question, he said.

Rada Borić of the green-left bloc said the minister's responsibility should be discussed because of the complete failure to embark on a radical health reform.

Healthcare does not need surface but systematic reforms, as does social welfare, because all we have seen so far has been shifting the blame, she added.

"Problems in healthcare are not from yesterday, but in decent democratic countries, when one sees that the system has failed and that there have been suspect activities, it is the minister's responsibility to resign," Borić said.

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

Monday, 19 April 2021

MOST: Beroš Not Only One Responsible for Situation in Health System

ZAGREB, 19 April, 2021 - The opposition MOST party on Monday called for an urgent reform of the health system, saying that Health Minister Vili Beroš was not the only one to blame for the bad situation in that sector and that the entire government and PM Andrej Plenković were also responsible.

"Recent statements by Finance Minister Zdravko Marić in the parliament are a result of an order to find the scapegoat for the situation in the health system, and that is Health Minister Vili Beroš, who a few months ago was a superhero, a result of the government's PR strategy," MOST MP and Zagreb mayoral candidate Zvonimir Troskot told a news conference.

He recalled Beroš's having said that a draft health reform was waiting on the government's table but that it was evident that there was no political courage or will to implement it.

By saying so, Beroš has revealed the real culprit for the lack of any necessary reforms. All Plenković is interested in is his position, Troskot said, calling on Beroš and Plenković to put the draft health reform to public consultation, adding that MOST would support it if it proved to be to the benefit of citizens, "even at the cost of a drop in party ratings."

As for a possible vote on Beroš's replacement, he said that Bridge would vote for it but that Beroš was not the only one to blame, reiterating that the Andrej Plenković government lacked the courage for any vital reform, including the health reform.

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

Saturday, 17 April 2021

Health Minister Vili Beroš confident He Has Prime Minister's Support

April 17, 2021- Health Minister Vili Beroš said on Saturday he was confident he had the prime minister's support, adding that everything he was doing was for the benefit of Croatia's health system.

"It's apparent that the reform of the health system depends on my ability and possibilities. When, since we live in a democracy, the people and the prime minister decide that I'm not doing a good job, they have the right to do as they please," Beroš told the press in Rijeka, where he visited the university hospital.

Until then, I will invest all my efforts and energy into reforming the Croatian health system.

Asked how realistic was his presenting the reform bills at next week's cabinet meeting, as proposed by the prime minister, Beroš said that the prime minister "figuratively let the whole public know that he is focused on the problems in healthcare and that he supports health reforms."

Beroš said it was not realistic for the necessary bills to be ready for next week's cabinet meeting, adding that they would be prepared after all the essential goals and steps had been defined.

He said a draft of the reform had been "on the table" for some time and that an interdepartmental working group would be established to review the reform. "That's primarily a reform of the health system, and I, as the minister responsible, am not running away from it, but other ministries must take part in the reform too, notably finance and the labor ministry."

Speaking of public procurement, Beroš said it should be combined for embedding material and medicines to cut costs substantially.

Asked if he had control over public procurement, Beroš said that neither the minister nor politics infringed on the work of services in charge of public procurement and finance, adding that the minister only set the strategic course of the system.

Beroš said he knew what he signed concerning public procurement, trusted his experts, and that everything in public procurement was appropriately done during his term.

Asked about an investigation by the USKOK anti-corruption office into cijepise.zdravlje.hr, the online COVID-19 vaccination registration platform, Beroš said he was glad that "institutions are doing their job" and that he was confident that everything was procured "adequately."

"Only together can we respond to this global threat. From day one, I have been aware that I'm only a cog in the mechanism that must generate change in the health system. The steps I'm taking and plan to take with the support of the finance minister, the prime minister, and all other ministers include dealing with the problem of drug wholesalers and the financial stabilization and reform of the health system. This is a vital need. It is above party membership or fabricated scandals," he said.

For more about COVID-19 in Croatia, follow TCN's dedicated page.

Saturday, 17 April 2021

Family Doctors Dismiss Health Minister's Accusations

ZAGREB, 17 April 2021 - The KOHOM association of family doctors on Saturday dismissed as untrue Health Minister Vili Beroš's claim that they indiscriminately refer non-emergency patients to emergency services and that not enough family doctors have joined mobile teams for vaccination against COVID-19 in Zagreb.

KOHOM says in a statement that it most strongly condemns the part of the draft reform measures, presented by the minister at a session of the parliamentary health and social policy committee, which concern primary health care.

Beroš said a major anomaly in primary health care was "the referral of non-emergency patients to hospital emergency services" and "an inadequate response by primary health care doctors" to the call to join mobile teams for the vaccination of bedridden or severely ill people.

Dismissing the minister's statements as "utter lies", KOHOM says that Beroš is attempting to blame huge omissions in the functioning of the health system on family doctors.

"Family doctors are definitely well educated and trained to recognise the severity of a patient's condition and they most certainly do not refer patients just because they want to make their colleagues' work harder but do so exclusively in line with professional rules."

KOHOM recalls that any person with health concerns can go to a hospital emergency service on their own because that way they can do tests quickly and get a diagnosis.

"Patients go to hospital emergency services on their own because otherwise they have to wait for individual diagnostic procedures for months, sometimes six months or a year," KOHOM says, adding that Beroš and his predecessors are the only ones to blame for that "because they did not know how to or did not want to reduce waiting lists for specialist examinations."

As for the minister's remark that not enough family doctors had applied to join mobile vaccination teams in Zagreb, KOHOM says that it called on the minister in December 2020 to form mobile teams and that family doctors at the time made themselves available.

Recalling that Beroš sent an instruction for public health institutes to form mobile teams to vaccinate bedridden or seriously ill patients in situations where family doctors cannot do it, KOHOM says that mobile teams in Zagreb were not formed.

Those teams function, and they function quite well, only in Split-Dalmatia County, KOHOM says, claiming that vaccination is almost entirely the responsibility of family doctors and calling on the minister to "finally organise effective mass vaccination and the system of which he is in charge."

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

Friday, 16 April 2021

Social Democratic Party (SDP) Chief Peđa Grbin Describes Plenković as Obstacle to All Reforms and Change

ZAGREB, 16 April, 2021 - Social Democratic Party (SDP) leader Peđa Grbin on Friday claimed that the Prime Minister and the Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ) president Andrej Plenković was the "obstacle to all reforms and changes in Croatia."

"Dear Andrej, instead of getting riled up and complaining that the opposition doesn't understand anything, tell us why are you keeping the healthcare reform on the shelf," Grbin sent Plenković a message on his Facebook profile in reaction to the prime minister's claims that while the National Recovery and Resilience Plan was being presented in parliament the opposition showed "its "emptiness, hollowness, a lack of creativity, a lack of information and knowledge," and that Grbin's rating was poor and he was not the leader of the Opposition.

"Your minister, Beroš, yesterday while he wasn't aware that the cameras were recording, admitted what we all know: Andrej Plenković is the obstacle to all reforms and changes in Croatia and the main reason why this country can't move forward," added Grbin.

Grbin posted that  "Andrej Plenković, known as a procrastinator, is a man who is keeping the health reform on the shelf because of the local election while the system is losing dozens of millions of kuna each week and people cannot get medication."

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

Friday, 16 April 2021

Croatia Will Have Received 1.8 Million Pfizer COVID Doses by 1 July

ZAGREB, 16 April, 2021 - Croatia can expect the delivery of 1.8 million Pfizer doses against coronavirus and the inoculation of 55% of the population against this infectious disease until 1 July, the national COVID-19 crisis management team said on Friday.

Representatives of the team said at a news conference that Croatia has registered a 32% weekly rise in new cases, and that the share of positive tests was 29.2% on Friday.

In terms of the incidence rate, Croatia  currently ranks 21st in the European Union and in the terms of the death rate, it ranks 17th, Croatia's chief epidemiologist Krunoslav Capak told the news conference.

"Pfizer has ramped up its delivery of vaccines for us. We Will have received a total of 1.805 million doses of this vaccine by the end of June," Capak said adding that he expected more than half of the population to get COVID shots before 1 July.

The head of the Zagreb-based Fran Mihaljević hospital for infectious diseases, Alemka Markotić called for additional caution before people get vaccinated.

"It would be a pity to develop serious symptoms of this disease now when we can be vaccinated soon," she said.

She said that the British variant of the novel virus was currently dominant in the European Union.

Markotić said that her hospital has been full with patients for days and that she was particularly concerned with the difficult condition of patients aged between 25 and 40.

Health Minister Vili Beroš reassured the general public that there would be enough vaccines for everyone who wishes to be immunised against this infectious disease.

Beroš dismissed accusations from some media outlets and Opposition lawmakers that the Cuspis company, which is allegedly owned by a family friend, had been favoured by the Health Ministry in the task to design the Cijepise (Get Vaccinated) platform.

Beroš said that all data concerning this issue were available on the ministry's website.

Beroš went on to say that the company had been hired by the ministry for some other tasks before he became an assistant minster and before his ministerial term.

For more about vaccination 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.

 

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