Health in Lithuania
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.
The annual population growth rate increased by 0.3% in 2007. At 30.4 people per 100,000, Lithuania has seen a dramatic rise in suicides in the post-Soviet years, and now records the third highest suicide rate in the world. Lithuania also has the highest homicide rate in the EU.
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. 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. 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. It 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 county hospitals and specialised health care facilities.
There is now Compulsory Health Insurance for Lithuanian residents. There are 5 Territorial Health Insurance Funds, covering Vilnius, Kaunas, Klaipeda, Siauliai and Panevezys. Contributions for people who are economically active are 9% of income.
Emergency medical services are provided free of charge to all residents. Access to hospital treatment is normally by referral by a General Practitioner. Prescribable medicines are listed in the Lithuanian State Medicines Register.
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