Official Opening of Cochrane Croatia

In June 2017 we were honoured to be present at the official opening of the Cochrane Croatia Centre. Roda has been a consumer-group representative first at the Cochrane Branch in Croatia, and now at the Cochrane Centre. Congratulations to the team at the Faculty of Medicine, University of Split for all their hard work bringing evidence-based medicine to patients and practitioners in Croatia.

Below is the speech Roda's Executive Director, Ivana Zanze, gave at the opening ceremony.

Healthcare reflecting scientific evidence and best practice is something most people take for granted – be they parents preparing for fertility treatments, choosing where they will birth their baby, learning to breastfeed after birth or treating their child's first fever.

Unfortunately, as Archie Cochrane realised that, although most healthcare providers have their patients' best interests at heart, they largely fail to consider high-quality evidence in delivering the care they provided every day. More than forty-five years after Cochrane's seminal work, this fact remains true, especially in countries such as Croatia where nepotism and politics affect everyday practice to a much greater degree than research and evidence do.

It was therefore with great attention and delight that we watched faculty and staff from the Faculty of Medicine at the University of Split begin collaborating with the Italian Cochrane Centre in 2008. As an organisation that had already been advocating for evidence-based practices in reproductive healthcare, especially maternity and infant care, the feeling was almost like winning the lottery – Croatian experts and healthcare users would finally have the tools they needed to begin implementing and choosing evidence-based healthcare.

As Croatia's largest parents' advocacy group, we would finally have the tools we needed to advocate for change in a language our policymakers, healthcare providers and consumers could understand. Gone are the days that evidence can be ignored.

Over the past nine years we have collaborated and celebrated the achievements of the Cochrane Branch, and today, as we help officially open the Croatian Cochrane Centre, we are filled with immense pride and hope for the future of evidence-based healthcare in Croatia.

If opening the branch was like winning the lottery, today's feeling is much deeper and more meaningful – like watching your child graduate with a degree you know he/she worked so hard to achieve, overcoming obstacles and investing time, sweat and tears.

There is a little piece of Roda in the Centre, as our volunteers have worked to make as many Plain-Language Summaries of Cochrane Reviews available to the public. These reviews, translated into our own language, have informed individual decision making, helped us to advocate for changes in policy and practice, and will continue to have an immense impact on healthcare consumers throughout Croatia and the region.

Living in the post-fact era makes the need for Centres such as Cochrane ever more necessary, especially in countries like Croatia where democracy is still in its infancy and healthcare consumers are only rarely have all the evidence-based information they need to make informed decisions.

In the next ten years it is our goal to make "Cochrane" a household name and synonym for informed decision making in healthcare for expectant parents, parents and their children. Most importantly though, as a civil-society organisation who shares many of Cochrane's central values and ethics – including independence from commercial financial interests and open access to information for the public – we will continue to work with but also watch over this very important work, ensuring that our target population – people planning a family, expecting children and raising children – have the information and resources they need to make evidence-based healthcare choices.

Today we celebrate all of you, all of us, and this immense achievement. Tomorrow, we get back to collaboration, with the goal of making healthcare information and choices more accessible to providers and consumers alike, improving our society and our democracy through providing quality, unbiased information in healthcare.

Thank you.