Tuesday, 6 April 2021

Health Minister Vili Beroš: "Drug Suppliers Clearly Told Gov't Wants to Settle Debt Problem"

ZAGREB, 6 April, 2021 - Health Minister Vili Beroš said on Tuesday that today's meeting with drug wholesalers was a clear sign that the government wanted to solve the debt problem, while Finance Minister Zdravko Marić said additional payments might be made so that drug supply ran smoothly.

"Today's meeting is a clear signal that we wish to solve this problem through joint effort. The meeting was constructive and Minister Marić left open the possibility of additional funds to make sure that drug wholesalers supply the health system regularly," Beroš told the press, reiterating that increasing health contributions was not being considered.

The meeting focused on short-term solutions and the debt repayment schedule, but the government is discussing healthcare reforms that will lead to long-term solutions, Beroš said.

"We presented to drug wholesalers our determination to embark on reforms and our willingness to settle the debt," he said, but added that the Croatian Health Insurance Fund had to redirect HRK 2.5 billion for the treatment of COVID-19 patients instead of regular healthcare.

"This government will do everything so that not one citizen remains without the medicines they need. Last week we found a way through direct payment for medicines necessary for life-threatening conditions, including for cancer patients."

The HRK 900 million ensured for drug wholesalers last week is part of the search for a solution, Beroš said.

(€1 = HRK 7.5)

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

Monday, 5 April 2021

Procedure Launched to Donate Deceased Child's Organs, Minister Offers Condolences

ZAGREB, 5 April, 2021 - Health Minister Vili Beroš confirmed on Sunday evening that the procedure had been launched to donate the organs of a two-and-a-half-year-old girl from Nova Gradiška, who died on Sunday in a Zagreb hospital of injuries inflicted by her mother, expressing condolences to all who loved her.

"I express my condolences and great sadness over the death of the little girl. Despite all the treatments undertaken and doctors' exceptional efforts, her condition deteriorated critically and brain death was confirmed," Beroš said.

He extended condolences to the child's foster family and others who loved her and did their best for her to find a safe place to live.

"Unfortunately, she did not live to see that happen and the worst possible thing happened, for which those responsible should answer," said the minister.

The child, who died due to injuries inflicted by her mother, was in a foster family for over a year, but was returned to her parents at their request.

The parents, who have three other children, have been remanded in custody.

The mother is charged with inflicting grievous bodily harm resulting in the child's death, while the father is charged with violating the child's rights and neglecting and abusing all four of their children.

Earlier in the day, Labour, Pension System, Family and Social Policy Minister Josip Aladrović offered condolences on the little girl's death. "May she rest in peace. May it never happen again!" he said in a Twitter post.

Citizens, who earlier on Sunday were leaving messages of support for the child outside the Zagreb hospital for children's diseases, gathered in the evening to light candles after the news broke that she had died.

 

Wednesday, 31 March 2021

New Coronavirus Restrictions to be in Force Until 15 April

ZAGREB, 31 March, 2021 - The national coronavirus crisis management team on Wednesday announced new epidemiological restrictions to be in force until 15 April, including a ban on indoor training, restrictions on the work of children playrooms and a temporary ban and restriction of cross-border travel.

The ban on indoor training does not apply to top competitions and athletes.

Certificates of vaccination with Russian, Chinese vaccines valid

Croatian border authorities will accept fast antigen tests as well as certificates about vaccination with the Russian and Chinese vaccines, and certificates proving their holders' recovery from COVID-19 and those certificates will be considered valid for 180 days, the team's head, Davor Božinović, said.

Border crossing has been regulated due to tourist visits, the exception being digital nomads and children.

"Considering restrictions in neighbouring countries, we do not expect a large number of arrivals," said Božinović.

He noted that the tighter restrictions were being introduced following a proposal to that effect by county COVID-19 response teams.

Apart from nationwide restrictions, the national team also made decisions on restrictions for Šibenik-Knin and Split-Dalmatia counties.

In Split-Dalmatia County, which has seen a big increase in new infections, the mandatory wearing of face masks at outdoor venues with an increased flow of people will be introduced, as will a ban on the sale of alcohol from 8pm to 6am. The work of cafes will be restricted until 8pm, and it will be possible to serve food and drinks only in the open. Foreign language schools will switch to online classes again.

Božinović said that restrictions could be additionally tightened since the epidemiological situation was not good.

Restrictions to be tightened if number of infections continues to grow

"We have a significant increase today and we cannot ignore the possibility of the scenario in neighbouring countries happening here as well. These restrictions will be in force for a few days but should statistics be worrying, we will introduce new measures," said Božinović.

The latest restrictions go into force on Thursday and will be in force until 15 April.

In the last 24 hours, 2,623 new coronavirus cases and 19 COVID-related deaths have been registered in Croatia, the national coronavirus response team said earlier in the day.

The number of active cases now stands at 11,306. Among them are 1,337 people receiving hospital treatment, of whom 144 are placed on ventilators.

Croatian Public Health Institute head Krunoslav Capak warned that today the number of new infections was 47% higher than last week.

Istria County has the lowest incidence, while Primorje-Gorski Kotar County has the highest. Croatia is currently 18th in the EU in terms of the number of deaths per one million inhabitants, while in terms of the 14-day incidence it is 12th.

Speaking about the start of the third phase of vaccination, Capak said that care would be taken of the order in which people had registered for vaccination at the cijepi.se online platform.

"All people older than 16 can be inoculated in the third phase, but a certain priority will be given to people in services in which they come into contact with a large number of people," he said, adding that the third phase could start in May.

He noted that cases of infection with coronavirus after vaccination had been reported. "We have about 20 such cases. Forty-four people in aged care homes got infected after receiving the first dose and 22 got infected after the second dose, but the symptoms were mild."

Commenting on an announcement by the Zagreb COVID-19 response team about the wearing of face masks outdoors, Capak said: "If you are outdoors and alone, there is no need to wear a mask."

"Outdoor mask wearing refers to places where there are a lot of people, in the farmers' market, on the waterfront," he said, noting that the recommendation to wear a mask outdoors had been in force so far for places where physical distancing was not possible.

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

Wednesday, 31 March 2021

Dignitas: "Patients' Rights are Being Systematically Undermined"

ZAGREB, 31 March, 2021 - Dignitas, the Croatian association protecting the dignity and equality of patients, said on Wednesday that the reform of the healthcare system should be carried out in cooperation with patients and without undermining their rights. 

"We appeal to the Ministry of Health, Minister Beroš, and the Croatian government in general to stop systematically destroying the rights of patients," the association said in a statement, adding that the government was deceiving the public by saying that Croatia was among the EU countries with the lowest health contributions.

"Relevant data shows that this is not true. The Minister would now like to impose new taxes and shift an even greater burden onto patients' shoulders without himself offering a single reform during his term that would benefit the patients," the statement said.

The association criticised Minister Beroš for not even trying to stop pharmaceutical companies from saying publicly that the most serious patients, such as those on dialysis and oncological patients, would be left without therapy.

"Pharmaceutical companies have the right to present their problems in public, but the Ministry obviously did not make an effort to stop them from additionally frightening the patients who are anyway worried about their own conditions," the statement said.

Dignitas called on Minister Beroš to "first put the healthcare system in order and see where savings can be made", stressing that savings certainly cannot be made on medical staff and therapy. It said that the healthcare system should be reformed in cooperation with patients, recalling that citizens already contribute a substantial amount of their pay towards healthcare.

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

Tuesday, 30 March 2021

PM Andrej Plenković: Part of Debt to Drug Wholesalers to be Paid in Days Ahead

ZAGREB, 30 March, 2021 - Prime Minister Andrej Plenković said on Tuesday that Finance Minister Zdravko Marić and Health Minister Vili Beroš would meet with drug wholesalers over the debt for drugs and that a certain amount would be paid in the days ahead.

Representatives of drug wholesalers, pharmacists and drug manufacturers warned last week that the supply of medicines could be restricted due to the HRK 6.5 billion debt, and the Medika company today suspended deliveries to hospitals.

Visiting Osijek-Baranja County, Plenković told press this was a usual situation. "Every once in a while, when an important date is due, whether Christmas, Easter or election day, wholesale drug suppliers unanimously start asking for the money they are due."

"We'll talk about it, the ministers of finance and health will meet with them and certain funds will be paid in the days ahead."

Asked about the payment date, Plenković said the ministers would discuss it. "I'm not an accountant to talk with them about the exact payment date."

The CEO of Oktalpharma, Ivan Klobučar, supported Medika's move, telling N1 television that the government, the Health Ministry, the Croatian Health Insurance Fund and Minister Beroš had been ignoring their appeals for a meeting for three months.

He said the situation was such that those responsible would see how difficult the situation was when "patients and others who are not at fault at all bear the brunt." If someone urgently needs a medicine, they will not get it, he added.

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

Wednesday, 24 March 2021

Andrej Plenković (PM), Gordan Jandroković (MP) and Vili Beroš (Health Minister) Get Vaccinated with AstraZeneca

ZAGREB, 24 March, 2021 - Prime Minister Andrej Plenković, Parliament Speaker Gordan Jandroković and Health Minister Vili Beroš were vaccinated with the AstraZeneca vaccine at Government House on Tuesday, and Beroš said that they had sent a message of confidence in medical science and the medical profession.

"Today we have sent a strong message of confidence in medical science, the medical profession, primarily because we were vaccinated with the AstraZeneca vaccine. We will continue to work diligently on vaccinating Croatian citizens so that they could continue living and working with as little risk of infection as possible. Every vaccinated individual contributes to the protection of the population and is definitely a step towards our old normal, and a step closer to a successful tourist season," Beroš told reporters after the vaccination.

He added that there were still many challenges ahead and that it was important to think about future challenges such as new variants of the virus.

"I believe that with this message we have encouraged citizens to follow us on that path, to curb the epidemic and return to our normal life," Beroš said.

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

Monday, 22 March 2021

Health Ministry Supplies 169 Ventilators for 29 Hospitals

ZAGREB, 22 March, 2021 - COVID wards at 29 hospitals have been equipped with 169 new-generation ventilators valued at a total of HRK 38 million and intended for use in patients of all ages, the Health Ministry said on Monday.

The ministry participated in a joint procurement process through the European Commission and secured 169 ventilators from one of the world's most renown producers of medical equipment, GE HealthCare.

The ventilators are intended for use for patients of all ages from newborn babies to adults and can be administered invasively or non-invasively via masks, the ministry said in a press release.

These new-generation ventilators assist doctors in adapting ventilation parameters as well as measuring caloric use which ensures better nutritional support for patients, hence their speedier recovery.

Ventilators could not have arrived at a better time

Health Minister Vili Beroš underlined that the ventilators could not have arrived at a better time considering the increased number of new coronavirus cases, hospitalised patients and those requiring ventilators particularly younger patients suffering for chronic diseases.

Beroš is convinced that the ventilators will contribute to reducing the number of fatal outcomes and provide a quality support to health workers on the front line in the fight against coronavirus.

Beroš thanked the European Commission and government for the support on the road to an even stronger and more effective health system in Croatia.

Monday, 15 March 2021

Minister Beros: Theoretically Possible for Croatia to Order Russian Vaccine

March the 15th, 2021 - Croatian Health Minister Beros has spoken out about the EU vaccination rollout and the possibility of Croatia getting its hands on the Russian Sputnik vaccine without needing permission to do so from the EU. Theoretically, he says, it is possible.

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes, the question of whether Croatia is already experiencing the third wave of the pandemic, what is going on with mass vaccination, a look at the country´s epidemiological measures and the tourist season were questions answered by Health Minister Vili Beros on HRT.

This week we record 28 percent more infections than we did last week...

¨On the 384th day since the beginning of the pandemic in Croatia, apart from the newly infected, today there are 855 patients who were hospitalised, which is as many as 50 more than yesterday, meaning that in the last 24 hours, 92 people were hospitalised. This indicates that the virus remains very much around us and that we all need to be careful and act together. It´s extremely important that we follow the basic measures because these are factors that can prevent the spread of infection. In the context of the upcoming tourist season, this is exactly what needs to be constantly mentioned. We´re all responsible for what will happen tomorrow,¨ Minister Beros said.

When asked if there will be another tightening up of the measures at the national level if this trend of an increasing number of patients continues, Minister Beros stated that the National Civil Protection Headquarters has been emphasising the role of county headquarters since back in autumn and is trying to encourage staff to think locally. An example of this, he says, is down in Dubrovnik-Neretva County, their headquarters concluded that something had to change there and he thanked them for that. He added that they will think more about local action depending on the epidemiological situation, than about horisontal measures that would apply to the whole of Croatia.

¨328 thousand doses of vaccine were used and 257 thousand citizens have been vaccinated. 56.7 percent of these doses were related to those in the second vaccination group, ie the elderly and the chronically ill. The Croatian healthcare system is able to vaccinate even more, but things are being limited by the quantities of vaccines coming into Croatia that are less than what was agreed on and expected. The Prime Minister and everyone else are making efforts to respond to these challenges as well,¨ Minister Beros said.

The AstraZeneca vaccine

Minister Beros emphasised the importance of scientific evaluation of everything related to vaccination. He said that approximately a thousand people are hospitalised annually in Croatia for various sorts of thrombosis or embolism. Another 2,200 due to pulmonary embolism, and a total of 3,200 of our fellow citizens, or 9 are hospitalised daily due to thrombo-embolic incidents. From that, he notes, a certain part of them does die and will continue to die. Therefore, given the number of vaccinated people, it is unfortunately to be expected that such deaths will continue. It is important that side effects are reported frequently so that more research can be carried out.

¨The WHO has announced recently that over 268 million people in the world have been vaccinated with the AstraZeneca vaccine and that no significant deviations, incidents or deaths related to this vaccine have been found. This has been confirmed by our British colleagues who have extensive experience and a large number of vaccinated people,¨ the Minister added.

The Russian Sputnik vaccine and Croatia

¨We´re still oriented towards joint procurement through the European Commission (EC) and we believe that the circumstances will improve. Recent announcements by vaccine manufacturers that they will increase doses are in favour of this. However, if this is not the case, we will have to orient ourselves and organise ourselves towards some other manufacturers. Croatia has made contact with the Russian health authorities and some documentation has been received. Tomorrow we will start the evaluation process in HALMED. Whether this documentation is complete and how long the procedure will last, I cannot say at this moment in time,¨ said Minister Beros.

When asked what should happen for Croatia to start purchasing vaccines on its own, he answered that several factors are crucial:

¨This will depend on whether the EC will take our remarks into account in regard to the need for corrective mechanisms that will balance out the delivery of vaccines, furthermore, will the manufacturers, as announced, increase those deliveries, all these are elements that will play their role at some point. The task of this Government is to provide citizens with a safe, effective and quality vaccine. When we´re sure that a vaccine is like that, then we will open the doors to that vaccine, but not before.

It is theoretically possible to import the Russian vaccine through intervention imports. If necessary, I will personally support it because it will mean that European mechanisms have failed, which I believe will not happen,¨ concluded Minister Beros.

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Wednesday, 10 March 2021

Croatia Extends Anti-Epidemic Measures After March 15

ZAGREB, 10 March, 2021 - In the last seven days, new coronavirus infections in Croatia rose by 25% compared to the week before that, and the existing anti-epidemic measures will be extended even after 15 March, the country's COVID-19 crisis management team said at a news conference in Zagreb on Wednesday.

The team's chairman, Interior Minister Davor Božinović, said that he hoped that the restrictions would not have to be ramped up.

The numbers are growing, however, there are not any particular hotspots, he added.

Croatia's coronavirus update: 962 new cases, 4 deaths, 334 recoveries

In the past 24 hours there were 7,499 coronavirus tests conducted, and 12.8% of them, that is 962, have returned positive. The death toll linked to COVID-19 has increased by four more fatalities to 5,625.

Currently, there are 3,981 active cases, including 807 hospitalised patients 82 of whom are placed on ventilators.

Since the first registered case of the coronavirus infection in the country on 25 February 2020, more than 1.4 million tests have been conducted, and 248,061 of them have turned out positive. To date, 238,455 people have recovered from this infectious disease.

Weekly rise of 25% ascribed to private gatherings

The head of the Croatian Institute of Public Health (HZJZ), Krunoslav Capak, said that a weekly rise of 25% was mainly due to family and private gatherings.

He added that 429 samples of 1,200 sent from Croatia to the European Centre for Disease Control had to date been sequenced, showing that 123 samples contained the British variant of the novel virus and 115 with the Czech variant. More results are expected next week.

50% of Croatian population may be immune to virus by this summer

A serological research carried out by the HZJZ covering 436 samples of people who caught coronavirus in the second wave of the pandemic has shown that 25% of them, that is one on four, have antibodies, Capak said.

The continuation of inoculation at the predicted rate could enable Croatia to have at least half of its population immune to coronavirus by this summer, according to his estimates.

Health Minister Vili Beroš announced a shipment of another 743,376 doses of COVID vaccines by the end of this month.

He expects the immunisation of one-fifth of the population with the first shot of the two-dose vaccine during this month.

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

Tuesday, 9 March 2021

Government Authorises Health Minister Vili Beroš to Purchase Pfizer/BioNTech Vaccine

ZAGREB, 9 March, 2021 - The Croatian government on Monday adopted a conclusion authorising Health Minister Vili Beroš to sign an order for the procurement of the Pfizer Inc./BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine.

The conclusion was adopted in line with an agreement signed between the European Commission and Pfizer Inc./BioNTech Manufacturing GmbH on 17 February 2021.

The funds for the procurement of the vaccine will be secured by the Croatian Health Insurance Fund.

The EC has so far signed six agreements on the upfront purchase of vaccines against COVID-19 on behalf of EU member states. The February 17 agreement between the EC and Pfizer refers to the purchase of an additional 200 million doses.

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

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