One Croatian County Has Lost More Than 60,000 Residents

Lauren Simmonds

As the coast booms, the overlooked parts of Eastern Croatia continue to suffer silently.

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes on the 3rd of March, 2018, demographer Stjepan Šterc warned that in 2017, Croatia had lost up to 90,000 inhabitants and that the country was already lacking a sufficient workforce, a workforce that will most likely have to be imported.

The demographic and health impacts of Croatia and the provision of easily accessible and high quality public health care through the prism of joint activities of hospital doctors and primary health care physicians in the amendments to the Health Care Act, was discussed on Saturday in Vukovar, during which a warning was issued that in just a 20 year period, Vukovar-Srijem County has sadly lost more than 60,000 inhabitants.

The meeting was organised by the Croatian Association of Primary Health Care Suppliers and the Vukovar branch of the Croatian Medical Association (HLZ).

The meeting on the more than alarming demographic data in Vukovar-Srijem County was attended by the president of the Vukovar HLZ, Mirjana Semenić Rutko, who stated that back in far more turbulent times, such as during 1991, there were 231,241 inhabitants in the county, ten years later there were 204,768 inhabitants, and in 2011 there were 179,521 inhabitants. She added that in 2001, there were 31,670 inhabitants in Vukovar, and in 2011, that figure had fallen to a significantly smaller 27,683 inhabitants.

“According to the Mayor of Vukovar, the city currently has only 22,000 inhabitants,” stated Semenić-Rutko, outlining the primary health care network in Vukovar-Srijem County.

In the territory of the county, there should be 100 family medicine teams, and 92 of them contracted, in the field of health care for preschool children, 16 teams are provided and 10 are contracted. There are 91 teams in dental healthcare and 70 of those are contracted, when it comes to primary health care for women the number is 13, and just nine teams are contracted.

As far as hospitals are concerned, Semenić-Rutko said that Vinkovci Hospital should have contracted 361 beds, instead, it has 243 beds and 15 additional ones for chronically sick patients, while the Vukovar hospital should have 150 beds contracted, yet they only have 106 contracted ones, as well as 20 additional ones.

The director of the Vukovar hospital, Vesna Bosanac, emphasised that the lack of specialist medical staff is evident in certain branches of the profession, primarily in emergency medicine and psychiatry, but the problem prevails through collaboration and hospital assistance in both Vinkovci and Osijek.

On behalf of the political party ”Promijenimo Hrvatsku” (Let’s Change Croatia), Ivan Lovrinović emphasised that health care in Croatia has fallen into major problems and that reforms to the health system should start from primary health care, out of which 23 billion kuna allocated.

“Up to 70 percent of all health problems can be dealt with [solved] in primary health care, and it’s clear that it is the first line of defense of people’s health and that cost management of rationalisation starts there,” Lovrinović stated.

In contrast to today’s bulky and inefficient Croatian system, one example is Ireland, which has constructed 14 primary health care centers, working on diagnostic-specialist principles and covering the largest number of common problems.

“There’s been a lot of talk about demographic issues for a long time, but there’s been no reaction or draft idea to solve the problem,” Šterc said, expressing concern that Croatia’s increasing demographic problems would directly affect the country’s pension, health and school system.

He considers demographic problems to be a key issue for the future of Croatia and it is therefore necessary to take the necessary measures to protect women and children, as well as to direct more funds from the budget towards the country’s overall demographic revitalisation.


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