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2019.12.11 15:00

State of health in Lithuania among worst in EU, report says

LRT.lt2019.12.11 15:00

Even though life expectancy has increased in recent years in Lithuania, it remains among the lowest in Europe and is more than five years below the EU average, a new report shows.

The State of Health in the EU report, presented by the European Commission, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) and of the European Observatory on Health Systems and Policies, points out that “Lithuania has among the highest mortality rates from preventable and treatable causes in the EU”.

Life expectancy at birth was 75.8 years in 2017, significantly below the EU average of 80.9 years, putting Lithuania ahead only of Bulgaria, Latvia and Romania.

Lithuania also had the second highest gender gap, with women outliving men by almost ten years.

The country also faces challenges with mental health and the control of tuberculosis, the report says, and alcohol consumption remains a major public health issue.

While health services accessibility is good in Lithuania, underfunding of the health system undermines equity and results in patients having to pay for many services out of pocket.

“Lithuania spends much less on health than the EU as a whole, both in absolute terms and as a share of GDP,” the report says.

“Reducing out-of-pocket payments, overhauling the hospital sector, further strengthening primary care and scaling up prevention measures would contribute to improving the health of the population, but the current level of spending in health care remains too low to address all the ongoing challenges effectively,” according to the document.