The Public Health Surveys and National Health Promotion Project was implemented in Croatia to reform the healthcare system’s strategy for combatting cardiovascular disease. The Canadian Society of International Health (CSIH) was hired by Croatia’s Ministry of Health (MOH) to consult on public health approaches that work towards lowering the prevalence of heart disease.
Croatia is a former Yugoslav Republic on the Adriatic Sea, with an estimated population of 4.4 million in 2001.The national healthcare system faces several challenges in dealing with non-communicable diseases and is in need of reform. The high prevalence of cardiovascular disease in Croatia requires particular attention.
To assist in the reform and development of Croatia's healthcare system by developing evidence-based public health strategies to lower heart disease rates.
CSIH worked with a team of local and international experts to provide technical assistance in the following areas: the use of survey data in the development and implementation of programs and policies at all levels; the development of a national healthy lifestyles campaign; the creation and management of a reference library for health professionals; ongoing training of trainers at national and district levels for the prevention and treatment of heart disease.
Two national surveys were conducted with a process that can be used for ongoing population monitoring. The first national survey was conducted at the household level. With this scientifically valid regionally representative data, a healthy lifestyle campaign plan was formed using collaborative processes with health professionals and media experts. In addition, an Advanced Cardiac Life Support Manual was developed.
Future activities should be integrated into a long-term health promotion plan. It is also necessary to establish a well-developed national network of educational centres, in which certified Croatian instructors will teach other healthcare professionals based on international standards. Furthermore, choice of tactics and creative development for future campaigns should not precede planning and should be empowering, clear, and tested against target audiences.