Croatia celebrates World Health Day

Manfred Stepponat

A mass yoga class was organized to celebrate World Health Day in Rijeka, Croatia

On World Health Day 2018, WHO called for action to ensure health for all by making universal health coverage (UHC) a reality in the WHO European Region. To mark the day on 7 April, an impressive number of activities took place in Croatia, including an open-house at the President's office; an event with health tests and information for the public in the capital, Zagreb's central square; a “Health for All” run in Zagreb; and a mass yoga class in Rijeka city centre.

High-level commitment to ensure healthier lives for all

Croatian President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović marked World Health Day by inviting the public to an event at her offices to check their blood sugar and blood pressure, to learn basic first aid and to find out more about healthy lifestyles. “Modern people aspire not only to live longer but also to live better,” said President Grabar-Kitarović. “To ensure a high quality of living at any age, which affects the economic, demographic and social situation [of the country] is the fundamental task of medicine and government health policy today and tomorrow,” she emphasized.

Making emergency care and health information easier to access

Access to health services and reliable health information are 2 essential aspects of UHC.

In celebration of World Health Day, a pilot project, Medical Emergency Motorcycles, was launched in Zagreb. In big cities, traffic jams can prevent medical care from reaching the patient and through employing trained emergency medical staff who travel by motorcycle, the City of Zagreb and the Zagreb Institute of Emergency Medicine hope to overcome this barrier.

The Andrija Štampar School of Public Health marked the day by launching “Ask Andrija!”, the first public health portal specifically targeting young people and students. The site is managed by medical students and will provide young people with relevant health information, enabling them to make better informed decisions about their health and well-being.

Planning health services for everyone

Noncommunicable diseases – cancer, cardiovascular disease, diabetes and chronic respiratory disease – are the number 1 cause of mortality in Croatia. “Health services must be planned around the needs of the people, and the focus of frontline services should address the needs of the population throughout the life course,” said Dr Antoinette Kaic-Rak, WHO Representative in Croatia. “UHC includes the full spectrum of essential quality health services, from health promotion to prevention, early diagnosis, treatment, rehabilitation and palliative care.”

Especially in the prevention and management of noncommunicable diseases, promoting healthy lifestyles and early detection, and ensuring easy, affordable access to essential services are crucial. WHO and the Government of Croatia will continue to work closely together to make sure the health system in the country is equipped to tackle these challenges and effectively respond to the population’s health needs.