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Yugoslavia: The Contemporary Health and Welfare Systems
Country Study > Chapter 2 > The Society and Its Environment > Health Care and Social Welfare > The Contemporary Health and Welfare Systems


Yugoslavia's 1974 Constitution required the organization of "self-managed communities of interest for health care" to manage the health care system. The communities of interest represented both the users and the employees of health-care facilities. Thus, such groups included delegates from the workers' council of the health-care facility, local citizenry served by the facility, and delegates from local enterprises contributing funds to the facility. Generally, each commune had a health center, although cooperative use of facilities was possible through agreements among individual communes. Health stations -- less equipped facilities available for primary first-aid -- were more numerous. In 1988 health centers numbered 450, health stations 2,550.

The federal Constitution entitled all Yugoslav citizens to health care in a variety of situations. Infectious diseases and mental illnesses judged dangerous to society received automatic treatment. Workers were guaranteed care for occupational diseases or work-related injuries. Pregnant women, infants, and preschoolers received comprehensive medical care. Children younger than fifteen, students younger than twenty-six, and citizens over sixty-five were entitled to general medical care. The health-care system distributed contraceptive devices, and free abortions were available up to ten weeks after conception or later under special circumstances. Federal law required that women receive uninterrupted paid maternity leave beginning at least 28 days before expected delivery and ending at least 105 days afterward. By 1990 some republics had increased minimum maternity leave to as much as one year. Working mothers also received income compensation for time taken from work to care for sick children.

Yugoslavia's social welfare system nominally provided services for destitute persons and families, physically and mentally handicapped persons, broken families, alcoholics and drug addicts, and elderly persons without relatives to care for them. In 1986 about 3 percent of the population received services from the social welfare system. In 1984 Yugoslavia operated 340 social work centers, including shelters, juvenile homes, care centers for handicapped children, foster home placement agencies, nursing homes, and facilities for care of the mentally handicapped and mentally ill. Altogether, the system employed about 2,100 social workers and 1,000 other professionals in the mid-1980s. Self-managing communities of interest managed the centers, which provided services to 687,000 Yugoslavs in 1984.

Contrasts in Emerging Societies, edited by G.F. Cushing, et al., is an anthology of primary-source material describing socio-economic conditions in southeastern Europe in the nineteenth century. It provides an excellent glimpse of life in the Yugoslav lands during that period. The National Question in Yugoslavia by Ivo Banac is an exhaustive treatment of the disparate Yugoslav peoples and their relations in the years immediately before and after the formation of the Yugoslav state. Steven L. Burg's Conflict and Cohesion in Socialist Yugoslavia and Pedro Ramet's Nationalism and Federalism in Yugoslavia, 1963-1983 discuss Yugoslavia's national question in later decades. Stella Alexander's Church and State in Yugoslavia since 1945 describes the relations between the postwar Communist regime and the Serbian Orthodox and Roman Catholic Churches. The Yugoslavs by Dusko Doder is an insightful and entertaining description of the virtues and foibles of the Yugoslav peoples in the 1970s. Kosovo: Past and Present, edited by Ranko Petkovic, presents an official, pro-Serbian assessment of the Kosovo problem, while Studies on Kosova, edited by Arshi Pipa and Sami Repishti, presents the Albanian side of the conflict. Jugoslavija, 1945-1985, edited by Dusan Miljkovic, contains a wealth of statistical comparisons of socio-economic indicators for the Yugoslav republics that a non-reader of Serbo-Croatian can easily decipher with the help of a dictionary. (For further information and complete citations, see Bibliography.)

Data as of December 1990

Last Updated: December 1990

Editor's Note: Country Studies included here were published between 1988 and 1998. The Country study for Yugoslavia was first published in 1990. Where available, the data has been updated through 2008. The date at the bottom of each section will indicate the time period of the data. Information on some countries may no longer be up to date. See the "Research Completed" date at the beginning of each study on the Title Page or the "Data as of" date at the end of each section of text. This information is included due to its comprehensiveness and for historical purposes.

Note that current information from the CIA World Factbook, U.S. Department of State Background Notes, Australia's Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade Country Briefs, the UK's Foreign and Commonwealth Office's Country Profiles, and the World Bank can be found on

Yugoslavia Main Page Country Studies Main Page

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