The Naftalan clinic is one of only two places in the world where naphthalene oil, an organiccompound extracted from crude oil, is used for treatment of hard-to-cure skin diseases andrheumatic ailments. The dark oily substance slowly seeps into a row of bathtubs as patientsundress and prepare to submerge up to their shoulders.
"This whole area was a red patch, which has become smaller and smaller over time, and isreduced now to just two red dots. And I'm praying to God that this is the year when it goesaway completely," he said.
Its managers say the idea came from Azerbaijan,where this type of medicinal oil has been in use for some time in a place also called Naftalan.
"Engineers from here, who had travelled to Azerbaijan for work, realized that the oil used therecould be the same kind as the one extracted here, which was already used there to treat somediseases. So they took samples, tested them for chemical composition and concluded that thiswas the same type of medicinal oil that they had over there," said Milica Birk, Deputy Manager of the Naftalan hospital.
But the Croatian team says it is using a more refined, distilled oil derivative, unlikeAzerbaijan's facility, which, they say, uses crude oil.
"In medicine we should not really use crude oil, which has some substances that could beharmful. So we had to find a way to produce a distilled version, which still has all the medicinalproperties, while compounds which are not desired were removed. Through cooperation between the Croatian oil company experts and our physicians here, we came up with this finalproduct," explained Birk.