The early days of the hospice movement in Croatia

Professor David Oliver, University of Kent, UK, and a board member of the European Association for Palliative Care, explains the background to a longer article published in the July/August of the European Journal of Palliative Care.

Anita Jušić with David Oliver

Anita Jušić with David Oliver

Professor Anica Jušić has been pressing to develop palliative care in Croatia for more than 30 years. As a neurologist and one of the first professors of neurology in Croatia, she had been unhappy that she could not offer the best care for patients who were deteriorating and dying – particularly those with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (motor neurone disease). Rather than accept the restrictions of care she wanted to do more and in the early 1980s started to hear more about palliative care and its role in the care of people with neurological and other advancing diseases.

Her travels took her to St Christopher’s Hospice in London and the opportunity to meet Dame Cicely Saunders where her enthusiasm for palliative care grew. This enabled her to start to develop the Croatian Association for Palliative and Hospice Care and education for professionals and volunteers. Within Zagreb, a Palliative Care Centre provided support for patients and families. However, there were continual changes in government plans and policies and it was not possible to sustain a volunteer-based approach.

Ban Jelačić Square in Zagreb, named in honour of Ban Josip Jelačić, Governor of Croatia in the 19th century

Ban Jelačić Square in Zagreb, named in honour of Ban Josip Jelačić, Governor of Croatia in the 19th century

Although Professor Jušić’s ideals and plans were difficult to bring to fruition, the concepts of palliative care are still developing in Croatia. With a population of four million, 25 percent of whom are in the Zagreb area, and a complex history, especially resulting from the conflict that ensued when Yugoslavia broke up, there are now increasing signs of palliative care developments – with new home care teams, several small hospices and a new National Plan.

Professor Jušić has continued to fight for palliative care and has recently published her autobiography, entitled ‘The Two Lives of Anica Jušić’, reflecting on her career as a neurologist and then within palliative care. Although the slow development has been frustrating the signs of progress can be seen.

I have had the privilege of working in Croatia for more than 15 years – leading courses on palliative care with a team from the University of Kent, supporting students and helping to advise and support the emerging services. The hope for the future is the fuller development of an integrated palliative care plan across Croatia and improved care for the people with advancing disease.

EJPC234coverRead the full article in the European Journal of Palliative Care 

This post relates to a longer article, ‘The early days of the hospice movement in Croatia’ by Anica Jušić and David Oliver, published in the July/August 2016 edition of the European Journal of Palliative Care (EJPC). (vol. 23.4).

If you have a web-based subscription to the journal you’ll be able to download this issue, plus all articles in the journal archive. You can also browse the archive and download articles by taking a 10-minute or 30-minute subscription. Members of the EAPC receive discounted subscription rates to the journal – click here to subscribe online.


This entry was posted in EAPC Board Members, EAPC-LINKED JOURNALS, European Journal of Palliative Care and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to The early days of the hospice movement in Croatia

  1. Susan Brown says:

    I am a follower of the EAPC blog here in Pasadena, California, USA. I was unaware of the short-term subscription option and will use that from time to time–I’ve been frustrated at not being able to read whole articles. However, the purpose of this comment is simpler: I taught in a European school for healers for many years, met many Croatians, and eventually taught and traveled there. I have friends there. It is a beautiful country, with a tremendous entrepreneurial energy and determination; there has been an interest in integrative medicine there, and I am so excited to see the developments in palliative care. Thank you for sharing this.
    Susan Brown

    • pallcare says:

      Hello Susan, Thank you for your comment. We are so glad you enjoyed the post and also that you have discovered the short-term subscription option for the journal. Selected EJPC articles (though sadly not this one) are available to download free of charge from the Publications area of the EAPC website but you will need to register (free of charge) or take out a membership of the EAPC to access these. Best regards Avril

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