Health in Albania
Albania has a universal health care system. Life expectancy is estimated at 77.59 years, ranking 51st in the world, and outperforming a number of European Union countries, such as Hungary, Poland and the Czech Republic. The most common causes of death are circulatory diseases followed by cancerous illnesses. Demographic and Health Surveys completed a survey in April 2009, detailing various health statistics in Albania, including male circumcision, abortion and more.
The general improvement of health conditions in the country is reflected in the lower mortality rate, down to an estimated 6.49 deaths per 1,000 in 2000, as compared with 17.8 per 1,000 in 1938. In 2000, average life expectancy was estimated at 74 years, compared to 38 years at the end of World War II. Albania's infant mortality rate, estimated at 20 per 1,000 live births in 2000, has also declined over the years since the high rate of 151 per 1,000 live births in 1960. There were 69,802 births in 1999 and the fertility rate in 1999 was 2.5 while the maternal mortality rate was 65 per 100,000 live births in 1993. In addition, in 1997, Albania had high immunization rates for children up to one year old: tuberculosis at 94%; diphtheria, pertussis, and tetanus, 99%; measles, 95%; and polio, 99.5%. In 1996, the incidence of tuberculosis was 23 in 100,000 people. In 1995 there were two reported cases of AIDS and seven cases in 1996. In 2000 the number of people living with HIV/AIDS was estimated at less than 100. The leading causes of death are cardiovascular disease, trauma, cancer, and respiratory disease. In 2015 it still had the highest mortality in Europe, at 766 per 100,000 population, the highest rate of death from non-communicable diseases (672 per 100,000) and the second highest rate of male smokers in Europe - 51%.
Health care in Albania declined steeply after the collapse of socialism in the country, but a process of modernization has been taking place since 2000. In the 2000s, there were 51 hospitals in the country, including a military hospital and specialist facilities. Albania has successfully eradicated diseases such as malaria.
The Faculty of Medicine of the University of Tirana is the main medical school in the country. There are also nursing schools in other cities. Newsweek ranked Albania 57 out of 100 Best Countries in the World in 2010. It has the lowest proportion of doctors for its population in Europe - 115 per 100,000 in 2015.
Corruption and incompetence
According to the survey conducted by the Euro health consumer index in 2015, Albania was the European country in which unofficial payments to doctors were reported most commonly. Basic supplies lack in public hospitals and doctors tend to refer patients to either their private practice or to nearby pharmacies. They have also become the targets of assaults from frustrated patients who are confronted with their lack of accountability and rampant corruption. Some doctors do not have the required accreditation and pose a hazard to the general public by prescribing the wrong medication or performing unsuccessful surgeries resulting in unnecessary deaths.
Recently, the system is experiencing a brain drain as qualified doctors are emigrating to Germany for better salaries and working conditions.
Meanwhile, the government is investing in modern equipment at Mother Teresa Hospital and the Trauma Center. As a result, a number of successful surgeries have been performed which previously required hospitalization overseas. A new state of the art National Emergency Center equipped with GPS systems has opened in Tirana in an effort to efficiently coordinate 112 calls nationwide. Dozens of new ambulances have been introduced and the concept of paramedics is starting to get hold when responding to emergencies. Further, free universal healthcare is being employed in the form of check ups for middle aged women and men.
Many foreign private hospitals have been opened in Tirana employing foreign staff and offering advanced services for an expensive fee.
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