Health in Lithuania

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As of 2012 Lithuanian life expectancy at birth was 70.7 years for males and 80.7 for females, and the infant mortality rate was 6.2 per 1,000 births. This was the lowest average of any European country, according to the OECD. The difference between male life expectancy and female is unusually large. Since 1990 most other European countries have increased their life expectancy by more.[1]

The annual population growth rate increased by 0.3% in 2007. At 30.4 people per 100,000,[2] Lithuania has seen a dramatic rise in suicides in the post-Soviet years, and in 2008 had the third highest suicide rate in the world. Lithuania also has the highest homicide rate in the EU,[3] and the highest rate of death from injury in Europe (76 per 100,000).[4]


After independence in 1918 a health care system on the Bismarck model began to develop but in 1949 when it was absorbed into the USSR, it was reorganized according to the centralised Semashko system. It was relatively well funded and the population’s health status was better than in other parts of the USSR. Lithuania moved away from a system funded mainly by local and state budgets to a mixed system, predominantly funded by the National Health Insurance Fund in the late 1990s.[5] The deterioration in health which occurred during the first phase of social reforms was halted in 1994 and the standardized death rate decreased from 12.06 (per 1000 population) in 1994 to 10.16 in 1998.[6]

The National Health Concept was adopted in 1991 by the Supreme Council – Reconstituent Seimas. It introduced health insurance, and prioritised disease prevention and primary care. In 1998 the Lithuanian Health Programme was adopted by the Seimas. This set as priorities the reduction of mortality and increased life expectancy, improvements in the quality of life, and increases in health equity. The National Health Insurance Fund was established.[7]

By 2000 the vast majority of Lithuanian health care institutions were non-profit-making enterprises and a private sector developed, providing mostly outpatient services which are paid for out-of-pocket. The Ministry of Health also runs a few health care facilities and is involved in the running of the two major Lithuanian teaching hospitals. In 2012 there were 52 fewer hospitals than there had been in 1990. There were 66 general hospitals, 26 secondary hospitals, 49 nursing hospitals, and 4 rehabilitation hospitals. The ministry is responsible for the State Public Health Centre which manages the public health network including ten county public health centres with their local branches. The ten counties run the county hospitals and specialised health care facilities.[8]

Total expenditure on healthcare per head of the population was $1,579 in 2013, 6.2% of GDP. There were 12,191 physicians in the country in 2009, 36.14 per 100,000 population.[5]

There is now Compulsory Health Insurance for Lithuanian residents. There are 5 Territorial Health Insurance Funds, covering Vilnius, Kaunas, Klaipėda, Šiauliai and Panevėžys. Contributions for people who are economically active are 9% of income.[9] In 2016 225,510 people, about 8% of the population, had not paid their contributions to the National Health Insurance fund, but it was thought many were actually not in the country. The insurance scheme does not cover adult dentistry or, for most people, outpatient prescription medicines. Only about 1% take out additional voluntary health insurance.[10]

Emergency medical services are provided free of charge to all residents. Access to hospital treatment is normally by referral by a General Practitioner.[11] Prescribable medicines are listed in the Lithuanian State Medicines Register.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Health at a Glance: Europe". OECD. Retrieved 3 July 2015.
  2. ^ "Lithuani" (PDF). Suicide prevention (SUPRE). World Health Organization. 2008. Retrieved 8 November 2008.
  3. ^ Eglė Digrytė (2 January 2009). "More people are killed in Lithuania than anywhere in the EU". Retrieved 25 April 2010.
  4. ^ Ballas, Dimitris; Dorling, Danny; Hennig, Benjamin (2017). The Human Atlas of Europe. Bristol: Policy Press. p. 66. ISBN 9781447313540.
  5. ^ a b "Lithuania". World Health Organisation. Retrieved 3 July 2015.
  6. ^ Health Care Systems in Transition (PDF). WHO. 2000. Retrieved 3 July 2015.
  7. ^ "The Healthcare System in Lithuania". Health Management. April 2013. Retrieved 8 December 2018.
  8. ^ Health Care Systems in Transition (PDF). WHO. 2000. Retrieved 3 July 2015.
  9. ^ "Compulsory Health Insurance Contributions". VLK. Retrieved 3 July 2015.
  10. ^ "Can people afford to pay for health care?" (PDF). WHO. 2018. Retrieved 8 December 2018.
  11. ^ "Accessing healthcare in Lithuania". NHS Choices. Retrieved 3 July 2015.