Opposition parties failed to secure enough votes for their motion of no-confidence for Health Minister Milan Kujundzic on Friday, with 53 lawmakers voting for it and 77 MPs against in the 151-seat parliament.
The motion was recently submitted by a group of 31 opposition MPs from the ranks of the Social Democrats (SDP), the Most party, the Croatian Peasant Party (HSS) and the Zivi Zid party, who listed 52 arguments as grounds to oust Kujundzic, who took office in October 2016 in Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic's cabinet.
"In the past two years, Minister Kujundzic has failed to do so many things, and now the health care system is at a much lower level of quality compared to when he stepped into office," MP Ines Strenja-Linic (Most) said last month.
Opposition MPs also accused Kujundzic of having failed to launch any meaningful reform, or to set up an emergency or ship ambulance service. He has failed to adopt the national plan to fight cancer, or even a national plan for hospital development, they said.
On Thursday, Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic had rejected all of the opposition's claims in their entirety, and said they were unfounded.
"That motion will end up just like the five other previous initiatives so far to impeach ministers, or for a no-confidence vote for the entire government. These represent continued attempts to politically discredit the very minister and government who have solved many problems that have accumulated in different sectors of Croatian society," PM Plenkovic told opposition MPs in Parliament on Thursday.
Listing Kujundzic's achievements, Plenkovic said that this year's budget revenue from the public health care service HZZO has increased by 20 percent from last year, from 2.5 billion kuna to 3 billion kuna.
"Never has there been as much money in the budget, especially for expensive medications - 1.3 billion kuna. Funds were secured to treat children suffering from spinal muscular atrophy (SMA) and for the drug Spinraza, Croatia has been included in clinical trials for a new medication for that disease, and several patients are already receiving the treatment they need," he added.
Plenkovic added that 29 hospitals were currently being modernised, and that one of Kujundzic's "strategic goals" was to establish a National University Hospital to serve as an umbrella institution in the hospital system.
"The government has secured funds for that major investment, as well as 42.5 million kuna for a feasibility study for a national children's hospital. Public procurement (in the health care system) is being re-organised, and emergency services, including the emergency helicopter service, are being reformed, financed by European and government budget funds," he added.