OECD study on health and mortality: Alarming data for Bulgaria

Written by on November 23, 2016 in Bulgaria - Comments Off on OECD study on health and mortality: Alarming data for Bulgaria
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The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) released its study “Health at a Glance: Europe 2016” on November 23, a comprehensive summary of everything having to do with health and mortality in all countries on the continent. The European Union contributes financially to the ongoing research and releases.

The results and findings are mostly listed by country. The data for Bulgaria are partially alarming. It starts with the section with numbers regarding premature deaths and potential productive life years lost related to non-communicable diseases among the working population, aged 25 to 64. With 410 premature deaths per 100 000 inhabitants, Bulgaria has the second-highest number. The country is listed right behind Hungary, which has a rate of 411, while most European countries, especially Western European ones, are listed at less than 200.

Regarding life expectancy, things do not look good for Bulgaria either. On average, Bulgarians live 74.5 years, just like Latvians. These two countries have the lowest life expectancy on the continent. The publication also lists life expectancy by gender: Bulgarian women live 78 years, on average, and men 71.1 years. In Spain, it is 86 and 80 years, respectively, in Turkey 80 and 75.

The study also looks into mortality rates and causes of deaths. While the rate of people dying of ischemic heart disease is average in Bulgaria, the rate of Bulgarians dying of strokes is the second highest of them all, just behind Macedonia. On the other hand, the lung cancer rate in Bulgaria is lower than average, in spite of the fact that smoking is an extremely widespread addiction in this country.

Regarding suicide mortality rates, Bulgaria’s numbers are below the European average as well, which is positive. Lithuania is the country with most suicides, by far.

Looking at infant and child mortality, Bulgaria’s numbers are extremely high. The mortality rates the report comes up with are based on research done in 2013 and 2014, while the data led to findings much later.

The same applies to the number of teenagers who smoke. Part of the study looked into the percentage of 15-year-olds, who smoke at least once a week. These numbers are worrisome indeed. Thirty percent of girls at that age are smokers, according to that definition. That number beats all other countries by far, while boys are more moderate, with 21 percent. The percentage of adult smokers in Bulgaria (15 years old or older) is the fourth highest in Europe, for men, which is not good either. Women are better, meaning they do smoke a lot less. Regarding alcohol consumption, Bulgaria has high rates as well.

The study also looks into the availability of medical treatment in Europe and many other aspects. There is an online version, which can be found here, and which does contain all details.

(Photo: Paul Barker/sxc.hu)

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Imanuel Marcus is Associate Editor of The Sofia Globe. He is German and lives in Sofia. Contact: imanuelmarcus (at) gmail.com