Health care


Country Report: Health care Last updated: 12/01/21


Croatian Law Centre Visit Website

Primary health care


Applicants are entitled to health care. However, the LITP prescribes that health care includes emergency care and necessary treatment of illnesses and serious mental disorders.[1]

Medical assistance is available in the Reception Centres for Applicants for International Protection in Zagreb and Kutina. While no information is available for the full year 2019, at the beginning of 2019, the Ministry of Interior reported that health care is also provided by the health care institutions in Zagreb and Kutina designated by the Ministry of Health.[2] In the Health Centre, a competent ambulance (family medicine) has been designated for the provision of health care from the primary health care level for chronic and life-threatening illnesses. A specialist ambulance for vulnerable groups has been appointed by the Ministry of Health and Local Health Centres. This includes: paediatric ambulance, gynaecological ambulance, school medicine ambulance, neuropsychiatric ambulance at the Hospital of Kutina, ambulance for addiction treatment; dental ambulances and Psychiatric Hospital in Zagreb.

In addition, applicants are referred to local hospitals i.e. in Sisak for those accommodated in Kutina, and the Hospital of Zagreb. The competent pharmacies, one in Zagreb and one in Kutina, have also been determined. Vaccination is performed by doctors in health centres or by specialists of school medicine.

A medical team of MdM was present at the Reception Centre in Zagreb every working day from 9am to 3pm. and in Reception Centre in Kutina depending on the needs.[3]

Complementary services by NGOs

MdM has a General Practitioner, a nurse and two interpreters for Arabic and one for Farsi who perform health care consultations at the primary health care level and carry out official initial medical examinations of newly-arrived applicants at both locations of the Reception Centre for Applicants for International Protection. In 2019 this included presence in Zagreb every working day and in Kutina when needed.[4]

In 2019, the MdM’s medical team carried out 3,556 medical consultations out of which 1,360 first examinations of newly arrived applicants. Out of the 3,556 medical consultations and examinations: 1,226 were performed with women (34.5%); 904 with children (25.4%). Two MdM’s psychologists conducted individual psychological counselling sessions every working day in Zagreb and, when necessary in Kutina. An external associate- psychiatrist visited the Reception Centre in Zagreb three times a month. In 2019, MdM team provided 1,200 individual psychological counselling sessions and 110 specialist psychiatric examinations. [5]

MdM also has a community worker and interpreters who provide interpretation, provision of information and counselling, as well as practical assistance to applicants for international protection when exercising their rights, including making appointments with doctors, transportation of samples and transportation of patients to health facilities where needed. The MdM team also continuously carried out vaccination of children in cooperation with the Ministry of Interior, the Health Centre Zagreb- West, the Andrija Stampar Teaching Institute of Public Health and the Croatian Institute of Public Health. In 2019, a total of 867 transportations of applicants to health care facilities were carried out, including 178 transportations of children for the purpose of vaccination.[6]

A guide called "I want to be healthy" with general guidelines and preventive measures for physical and mental health was created in Arabic, English, Farsi, French and Croatian in October 2019, and a poster of the same name in November 2019. MdM also coordinated a transfer to a gynaecologist and to a paediatrician, and accompanied pregnant women and children when going to medical checks.

Since July 2019, MdM has recorded a significant increase in the number of initial medical examinations. In addition, an increase of applicants staying only for short period of time at the Reception Centre in Zagreb was observed. Due to a large increase in the number of newly arrived applicants, a significant increase in the number of children, women, pregnant women, infants and families in general has also been observed. Likewise, there was a significant increase in the incidence of infectious diseases associated with long-term stay in poor living and hygiene conditions of the camps in Bosnia and Herzegovina.


Mental health


Psychological counselling and support were also provided by several other organisations during 2019:


  • The Society for Psychological Assistance, (SPA)[7] provided psychological counselling, organised in their premises. Information on their activities for clients are also available online in English, Arabic, French and Turkish.[8]


  • The Croatian Law Centre provided psychological counselling through project directed to potential and recognised victims of torture among applicants for international protection.


  • Two MdM’s psychologists conducted individual psychological counselling sessions every working day in Zagreb and, when necessary in Kutina. An external associate- psychiatrist visited the Reception Centre in Zagreb three times a month. In 2019, MdM team provided 1,200 individual psychological counselling sessions and 110 specialist psychiatric examinations.[9]


Special health needs


Applicants who need special reception and/or procedural guarantees, especially victims of torture, rape or other serious forms of psychological, physical or sexual violence, shall be provided with the appropriate health care related to their specific condition or the consequences resulting from the mentioned acts.[10] However, in practice this type of additional health care is not accessible on a regular basis for those who have special needs.

According to national legislation, the procedure of recognising the personal circumstances of applicants shall be conducted continuously by specially trained police officers, employees of the Ministry of Interior and other competent bodies, from the moment of the expression of the intention to apply for international protection until the delivery of the decision on the application. However, there is still no further detailed guidance available in the law, nor an early identification mechanism in the form of internal guidance. According to the Croatian Law Centre’s insights, less evident vulnerabilities such as those relating to victims of torture are much less likely to be identified in current practice.

Since 2010 the Croatian Law Centre has implemented the project “Protection of Victims of Torture among Vulnerable Groups of Migrants” (Zaštita žrtava mučenja među ranjivim skupinama migranata) funded by the UN Voluntary Fund for Victims of Torture (UNVFVT). Through the project, legal assistance is provided by the Croatian Law Centre, psychosocial support is provided by the Croatian Red Cross and psychological counselling is provided by external psychologists both to applicants and refugees. During 2019, 24 persons (12 female, out of which one girl, and 12 male, out of which 2 unaccompanied children) were provided with legal, social and/or psychological assistance under the project. Psychological assistance was offered and provided to 20 persons through 72 counselling, while legal assistance was provided to 18 persons through 56 counselling.


[1] Article 57(1) LITP.

[2] Information provided by the Ministry of Interior, 28 January 2019.

[3] Information provided by MdM, 20 January 2020

[4] Information provided by MdM, 20 January 2020

[5] Ibid.

[6] Ibid.

[7] Information provided by the Society for Psychological Assistance, the Centre for Children, Youth and Family 20 December 2019.

[9] Information provided by MdM, 20 January 2020

[10] Article 57(2) LITP.


Table of contents

  • Statistics
  • Overview of the legal framework
  • Overview of the of the main changes since the previous report update
  • Asylum Procedure
  • Reception Conditions
  • Detention of Asylum Seekers
  • Content of International Protection
  • ANNEX I – Transposition of the CEAS in national legislation