ZAGREB, March 26, 2018 – The Croatian health system is stable and good but it is struggling with numerous problems, Health Minister Milan Kujundžić said at the conference “The future of Croatia’s health system” in Zagreb on Monday, announcing that a new law on healthcare and compulsory health insurance, to be adopted this year, were expected to help deal with those problems.
Croatia spends 700 euro per capita on healthcare while European countries with which Croatia wishes to compare itself spend 5 to 10 times more, but there is little in Croatian medicine that is not done as well as in those countries, Kujundžić said at the conference that was organised by the Večernji List daily. Medicine is increasingly expensive and purposeful but it needs money to be effective, he added.
Kujundžić said that this year allocations for expensive drugs were raised from 700 million kuna to 1.1 billion kuna, and that in 2017 the state settled its debt to the health system for the first time, which resulted in a decrease in the total debt. “In late 2016, the health system debt exceeded eight billion kuna, and we ended 2017 with a debt of 7.7 billion kuna,” said Kujundžić.
“Public procurement is a way to make savings. We try to buy around 30% of drugs and medical material through public procurement and believe that by doing so, we can obtain them at lower prices,” said the minister.
The adoption of a law on compulsory health insurance will definitely elicit media, public and political disputes because it needs to set clear standards for the health system and what the state can and cannot pay while keeping the quality of service and patient safety at a high level, he said.
On the other hand, the institute of general practitioners’ offices is to be introduced in primary healthcare through the Law on Healthcare with the aim of defining the rights and obligations of doctors and encouraging them to keep working in primary healthcare. To that end, applications for a large number of primary healthcare specialisation programmes have been invited, plus 50 specialisation programmes for paediatrics, given the lack of paediatricians.
Commenting on the fact that doctors and other medical staff are leaving Croatia, Kujundžić said that the drain was not so big even though it posed a constant danger because developed European countries offered medical workers much better work conditions. He said efforts were being made to make them stay in Croatia, including specialisation, education and higher salaries for those who work more and better than others.
Kujundžić called for stronger prevention, noting that if young people consumed tobacco, alcohol, energy food and drinks less, in 10-15 years’ time there would be much fewer cases of malignant diseases, heart attacks, strokes, etc.
Attending the conference was also Finance Minister Zdravko Marić, who said that more important issues in the health system than budget allocations were efficiency and differences in the capacity of individual regions.
The head of the Association of Health Employers Dražen Jurković said that the key problems of the Croatian health system were lack of money and low per capita budget allocations for health care.