Healthcare in LatviaLatvia is a small country in the Baltic region with a population of fewer than 2 million people. The republic was under Soviet control from 1940 until it gained its independence in 1991. Latvia has made noticeable progress increasing its life expectancy rate at birth over the last few decades from 70.2 years in 2000 to 74.8 years in 2015. However, the country is currently undergoing major demographic shifts. While its birth rate is decreasing, its death rate is high, ranked fourth in the world. In addition to various public health threats, the healthcare system in Latvia is grappling with significant challenges that affect its efficiency and quality. Here are five things to know about Healthcare in Latvia

5 Things to Know About Healthcare in Latvia

  1. Several indicators show that the public health profile in Latvia is relatively weak in relation to comparable countries. For instance, the country’s life expectancy in 2015 was the third-lowest among EU countries. In the same year, Latvia had the highest notification rate of Hepatitis C in the EU. In 2014, adult obesity levels were at 21%, placing Latvia third among EU countries.
  2. Latvia spends less than similar countries on healthcare. In 2015, the country spent only 5.8% of its GDP, equal to €1,071 per capita. This falls considerably below the EU average of 9.9%. These statistics showcase the lingering challenges of the country’s underfunded healthcare system. Physician and hospital bed density rates also provide clarity in this respect. In 2017, Latvia had 3.19 physicians and 5.6 beds per 1,000 people.
  3. Obesity, smoking and heavy drinking are major poor health trends in Latvia. In 2015, the average Latvian adult consumed 10.8 liters of alcohol. Furthermore, 20% of adults in the country heavily consume alcohol regularly, with men being the greater consumers than women. In addition, one in four adults in the country smoked daily in 2014. This is a higher percentage than the EU average of 21%.
  4. Healthcare in Lativa has undergone many reforms since the country gained independence in 1991. In 2011, the country created a National Health Service (NHS)-type system. The NHS controls the implementation of healthcare policies, while the Ministry of Health develops policies and oversees the system. Though all citizens receive coverage through the system, patients still have to pay for user charges and other significant out-of-pocket costs. In 2014, Latvia ranked second among EU nations in its household out-of-pocket expenses to health expenditures ratio, which was 39%.
  5. A Latvian individual’s likelihood of exposure to poor health outcomes depends on his social and economic status. For instance, according to the European Health Interview Survey, more than 3% of Latvians have asthma. People from lower-education and lower-income backgrounds are the most susceptible group. Inequalities also emerge with regard to perceptions of health among Latvians. Approximately one-third of Latvians from low-income backgrounds claim to be in good health, in contrast to two-thirds from high-income backgrounds. Similarly, access to healthcare varies depending on location. Those living in rural areas may face greater difficulty accessing health services owing to shortages of medical professionals in these areas.

Based on these facts, it is clear that healthcare in Latvia needs critical adjustments in order to improve the country’s health profile. Not only is Latvia’s spending on this sector very low compared to other EU nations, but problems like obesity, smoking and alcohol consumption signal an urgent need for improvement. Ensuring equal access is also an important goal for the country to strive toward.

Oumaima Jaayfer
Photo: Pxfuel

Homelessness in Latvia
After the Great Recession of 2008, Latvia saw a large rise in its homeless population. After a 389% increase in homelessness from 2009 to 2017, the nation recorded 6,877 homeless people, three-quarters of whom are concentrated in Riga. Data from 2018 also displays that the majority of subjects living in shelters are pre-retirement, ages 41 to 61. Coupled with its lack of affordable housing and deteriorating household economic situation, Latvia has long struggled to provide organized and well-funded state programs to its homeless population. As the government continues not to act, many citizens struggle against addiction, health problems, a weakening economy and stereotypes that exacerbate homelessness in Latvia.

Why Latvia Has Been Unsuccessful So Far

Latvia’s main weakness within its programs is the lack of national and state support. Measures to address homelessness in Latvia are left entirely to the local authorities, which are often inadequate and only provide low-intensity aid. For example, shelters do not offer essential and progressive services such as transfers to temporary or permanent accommodations, making it difficult for individuals to leave shelter systems. Latvia dismisses this issue to such a great extent that has yet to even recognize a formal definition of homelessness in its legislation. The nation’s poor funding and organization, as well as the exceedingly small size of its housing stock, causes the ineptitude of homeless prevention. Municipalities provide social housing exclusively, though some larger governments have formed specific companies to maintain and manage public stock.

Most shelters in Riga have limited services that only provide basic emergency shelter and minimal support-worker time. Displaced individuals thus struggle to re-establish themselves in society and find sufficient private housing, leaving them stuck in public housing systems. Those with alcoholism or other addictions may use detox and rehab programs that Latvian social services provide, but these interventions are costly at €200 for 28 days with an additional €50 per month for accommodation.

Discrimination Against the Homeless

A pervading culture of discrimination also limits opportunities for displaced citizens. In 2018, Latvijas Sabiedriskie Mediji, the official news portal of Latvian radio and television, reported a case of blatant prejudice towards 43-year-old homeless man Gunārs. Gunārs did not qualify for free healthcare, as he was the victim of an inventive tax evasion scheme that firms targeting the homeless used. However, even after Gunārs offered proper payment and was proved a registered patient, the doctor still denied him treatment by claiming his intoxicated state was in violation of code and removing him from the premises. The news source’s further investigation revealed mistreatment towards alcoholic clients at the Red Cross shelter on Gaizina street, which limited drunk individuals to stay on the first floor where they faced verbal and physical abuse by guards and even preachers.

Persons without tax-paying families are also unable to claim financial assistance, as applications of welfare for homeless citizens can only occur through the head of the household based on additional household costs. Latvian citizens returning from abroad are also subject to police inquiry and assessment to determine whether people have a genuine reason to be homeless.

A recent video campaign that the local transport authority in Riga released encourages this anti-homeless sentiment by urging passengers who encounter homeless individuals on their commute to call the police to arrest them. The advert repeatedly plays on the screens of buses, trams and trains throughout the city that advise citizens to identify homeless individuals through their “odor.”

Initiatives to Reduce Homelessness in Latvia

Fortunately, Latvia has taken steps to improve conditions for its homeless citizens. The Riga Central Library, for example, started an initiative in 2017 by collaborating with a local day center to serve as an easily accessible intermediary for homeless clients seeking social needs. The library also solicits food, toiletries and supplies for the homeless; offers brochures, posters and handouts that describe the services available within the library/community; and offers assistance in public service application forms, as well as time to discuss with lawyers, social workers and career consultants.

According to the 2019 ESPN Thematic Report on National Strategies to Fight Homelessness and Housing Exclusion, the government aims to develop a uniform housing policy that improves insufficient social housing, develops affordable quality housing support mechanisms, expands the range of services offered to homeless individuals and prevents homelessness through increased material support. Additionally, the plan strives to ensure that national and local governments designate fiscal funds to make this goal a reality. Statistics from 2019 showed a 3% decrease in Riga’s homeless population in comparison to the previous year, which could indicate that these projects had some positive impact.

The recent COVID-19 pandemic has also hastened the Latvian government to take more direct action. To prevent further evictions, the Riga municipality has guaranteed both minimum income benefits and housing benefits for its population. Citizens can also request food from the city’s six food dispensers. In addition to increasing funding for social services provided to homeless and vulnerable persons by €93,320, the Riga Municipality has demonstrated initiative in enforcing hygiene to stop the spread of COVID-19 in shelters by increasing funding to the Blue Cross Men’s Shelter of the Evangelical Christian Church by €4,211 to install five toilets and two disinfection tables.

These new policies could indicate a shift toward greater direct government funding and organization to help homeless persons. By aiming to reduce both shelter occupation numbers and rates of poverty in the next decade, the elimination of homelessness in Latvia is possible.

– Christine Chang
Photo: Flickr

hunger in latvia
Estonia, Russia, Belarus and Lithuania border Latvia, a country on the eastern shore of the Baltic Sea. The country has been officially independent since 1991 due to the dissolution of the Soviet Union. As a country, Latvia is about half the size of Greece and has had a population of about 2.2 million people since 2019. However, underneath the country’s beautiful scenery and culture, there is plenty of poverty and hunger in Latvia.

The Current State in Numbers

Of all the countries in the European Union, Latvia is the fourth poorest country. Due to this status, roughly 25% of the population in Latvia lives below the poverty line. With an average household size of 2.4 individuals, Latvian families may struggle, as the median household income is $7,732. Although the cost of living in Latvia is 28.54% lower than in the United States, the cost of living, transportation and other necessities do not always leave enough room for families to purchase food. The ones who suffer the most from food insecurity include young children and senior adults.

Although hunger has remained an ongoing problem in Latvia for years as a result of World War I, the country has made waves to fight it. According to the Global Health Index, a tool that rates countries one to 100 based on statistics like child mortality and malnourishment, Latvia is the fifth most improved country. From 2000 to 2015, there was a 59% decrease in hunger, with an average shift from 8.3 in 2000 to 3.4 in 2015.

Food Insecurity and Hunger

To decrease food insecurity within Latvia, several initiatives have emerged to help the country. A European Union program called Food Distribution for the Most Deprived Persons of the Community has been active since 2006 and receives funding from the European Agricultural Guarantee Fund. This organization works with the Latvian Red Cross to distribute food packages for individuals in need. According to a Transmango National Report on Food and Nutrition Security in 2015, there were 448 distribution centers throughout Latvia.

Besides this E.U.-sponsored program, NGOs and other charitable organizations, such as Paēdušai Latvija, have worked to combat hunger in Latvia. Paēdušai Latvija is a charity based in Riga, Latvia, that emerged in 2009. As of 2015, Paēdušai Latvija has a network of 56 charity organizations throughout Latvia. Besides the work its network is doing, Paēdušai Latvija receives more than 1,200 requests for emergency food supplies every month. However, it can only satisfy about 500 of those requests each month.

The Future of Hunger in Latvia

The programs in existence have proved successful as the rates of hunger in Latvia have plateaued. Since 2016, the rate of hunger in Latvia has remained stagnant at 2.5%. According to the 2019 Global Hunger Index (GHI), Latvia is one of 17 countries with a GHI score of less than five. Due to more and more individuals within the country and outside of it continuing to donate and mobilize individuals, the rate of hunger in Lativa seems as though it will shrink in the coming years.

Caitlin Calfo
Photo: Pixabay

Life Expectancy in Latvia
Latvia is a small country located in the Baltics, bordering Estonia, Lithuania, Belarus and Russia. In 2018, the life expectancy in Latvia was 75 years, slightly above the average global life expectancy of 72.6 years. Since 2006, the total life expectancy in Latvia has been slowly growing at a rate of about .35 per year. Here are 10 facts about life expectancy in Latvia.

10 Facts About Life Expectancy in Latvia

  1. Differences Based on Sex: The life expectancy for women in Latvia was 79.6 in 2018, as opposed to 70 for men. Generally, there is about a 10-year difference in life expectancy between men and women in Latvia, as opposed to the five-year difference which is the average in the European Union. The Baltic News Network has attributed this to greater rates of cancer and a general culture of ignoring health problems among men in Latvia. 
  2. Leading Causes of Death: The leading causes of death in Latvia are ischemic heart disease, stroke, Alzheimer’s disease and lung cancer. The only of these causes to increase in percentage from 2007-2017 is Alzheimer’s disease. The rest have decreased by at least 17 percent during that span.
  3. Risk Factors: There are several risk factors involved in Latvian fatalities. Among the leading risk factors are dietary risks, alcohol and tobacco use, high blood pressure and a high body-mass-index. In addition, there are environmental risk factors in Latvia. For example, estimates determine that air pollution is the eighth largest risk factor for Latvians in 2017. Recently Latvia has seen legislation geared at reducing some of these factors, such as a law passed in 2016 requiring health warnings on cigarette packaging.
  4. Spending: In 2016, the average Latvian spent $995 a year on health care. People spend around $437 out of pocket and $549 came from the government. By 2050 projections determine that the number will double. For reference, the average American, the world’s highest spender on health care, spends approximately $10,000 a year on health care.
  5. Self-harm: Self-harm is a major problem in Latvia, causing 729 deaths per 100,000, significantly above the mean in Europe. Likewise, Latvia had the lowest rate (31 percent) of people who reported being happy within the last four weeks of any European nation in 2018. In 2014, Latvia launched its first campaign called “Don’t Turn Away,” to address these issues, increase social awareness of self-harm and destigmatize talking about mental health issues. From 2014 to 2016, Latvia saw its suicide rate drop from 19.31 percent to 18.73 percent.
  6. Infant Mortality: The infant mortality rate in Latvia was 3.3 deaths per 1,000 births in 2018. This was a significant decrease from an infant mortality rate of 15.8 in 1994. Also, this is significantly lower than the global infant mortality rate of 29 deaths per 1,000 births in 2017.
  7. Health Care System: Though Latvia has universal health care, patients still have to pay out of pocket for a lot of treatments. Latvia has a negative list of benefits, which means that the government pays for all treatments except those specifically listed. General taxation pays for this universal health care plan.
  8. Physicians: Latvia currently has 3.19 physicians for every 1,000 people who live in the country. A steep drop off occurred between 2009 and 2010. Back then, the number of physicians dropped from around 3.7 physicians to 3.1 physicians per 1,000 people. However, since then, the number of physicians has been steadily rising. This is significantly higher than the world average of 1.5 physicians, but slightly below the average in the European Union of 3.57 physicians per 1,000 people.
  9. Government Treatment Towards Health Care: The Latvian government gives a low priority to health care, as it makes up only 5.5 percent of its annual budget. The average country in the E.U. spends about 10 percent of its budget on health care. Latvia has seen major reform in its health care system, which helps the country increases its overall life expectancy. The low wages in Latvia contribute to a lot of corruption within the health care system. This corruption comes in the form of out-of-pocket payments from individuals to doctors, who use it as a supplement to their salaries. Surprisingly, the general public is accepting of this practice, since many believe it promotes honesty and good service.
  10. Relationship with the European Union: The European Union has worked to invest in better infrastructure for Latvian hospitals. The European Union allocates 64 million euros for new equipment in Latvia’s biggest hospital located in Riga in 2017. This will increase access to high-quality health care for Latvia’s 2 million citizens by 2023.

These 10 facts about life expectancy in Latvia show that there needs to be an improvement in the Latvian health care system. On the other hand, there is a lot of promise in the betterment of this health care system. The steady increase in life expectancy has shown the positive effects of some reform. This will likely continue in the future as the government works to better address health problems, and the Latvian health care system receives aid from the European Union.

– Ronin Berzins
Photo: Flickr

Living Conditions in Latvia

Latvia is a country in the Baltic region of Europe. It has a population of about 1.9 million people. Statistics demonstrate that living conditions in Latvia are improving at a slow rate, but that Latvia also still has its fair share of problems. Listed below are the top 10 facts about living conditions in Latvia.

Top 10 Facts About Living Conditions in Latvia

  1. Poverty rates are going up. In 2017, 23.3 percent of Latvia’s population was at risk of poverty. This increased from a rate of 22.1 percent in 2016. Growth in Latvia’s poverty rate is part of an upward trend of poverty since 2010, in which the rate was 19 percent. The growth may be a result of high emigration rates, causing a shrinking workforce.
  2. Employment is increasing. Latvia’s rate of employment has improved over recent decades. For instance, the employment rate was 49 percent in 1991 and increased to 55.1 percent in 2017. This is relatively slow, but significant progress. The employment status of a Latvian citizen factors heavily into their aforementioned risk of poverty. Only 8.1 percent of employed people were at risk of poverty, whereas the risk is approximately 59.5 percent for unemployed people.
  3. GDP is low but growing. Latvia has the fourth-lowest GDP in all of the EU, falling below the average GDP per capita of 28,900 PPS for the EU in 2015, with an average GDP per capita of 18,600 PPS. Though low, this is part of an overall increase in GDP over the past decade, with a peak growth rate of 6 percent in just one year’s time.
  4. Income inequality. Though there is an improvement to Latvia’s GDP, the country still has significant income inequality as well. For example, the highest 10 percent of the country holds 26.1 percent of the income, whereas the lowest 10 percent has only 2.5 percent of the income.
  5. Low rates of violent crime. Latvia has a relatively moderate to low crime rate. For instance, the country has a very low homicide rate of 3.4 per 100,000 people. Most crimes committed are non-violent crimes of opportunity, such as burglaries, pick-pocketing and credit card fraud. The prison population per 100,000 people is 239.
  6. Education. Another aspect of living conditions in Latvia is its compulsory education system. As a result, the country has a high rate of enrollment. The gross enrollment ratio for primary school is 98 percent. Furthermore, 112 percent for secondary school (a rating of more than 100 percent indicates repeating students outside of the appropriate age group). The literacy rate of citizens ages 15 or older is 99.9 percent, which is on par with the EU’s average, Furthermore, all schools have access to the internet, ensuring a high-quality education.
  7. Health. Life expectancy in Latvia is 74.7 years, making it one of the shortest average life expectancies found in the EU. However, this has improved by about five years, from an average life expectancy of 69.1 in 1990. Latvia also has a relatively low infant mortality rate of 3.9 per 1,000 live births, down from 13.1 in 1990. Latvia has a universal health care system.
  8. Human development is high. The Human Development Index (HDI) is a quantitative measurement of factors such as life expectancy, standards of living and employment, measured by the U.N. The HDI for Latvia is 0.847, which ranks it at #41 out of 189 countries. This categorizes it as having very high human development, thus reflecting one aspect of good living conditions in Latvia. The HDI score is also a massive improvement over its record low of 0.667 in 1993.
  9. Latvians are optimistic. Eurofound surveys have demonstrated that life satisfaction in Latvia has increased from a metric of 5.6 in 2003 to 6.3 in 2016 (on a scale of 1-10). Happiness has increased to an average of 7 from 6.5. Additionally, 69 percent reported optimism about their future. Not only that, 77 percent reported optimism for the futures of their children or grandchildren. Comparatively, in 2003, 76 percent said that they found difficulty in making ends meet. However, that metric has decreased to 53 percent in 2016.
  10. Gender equality. Latvia ranks in 41 out of with a Gender Inequality Index (GII) of 0.196 as ranked by the UNDP. Women have close to the same secondary education statistics as men. For example, 55.2 percent of women are in the workforce, compared to 63.7 percent of men. In regard to parliament, women hold 16 percent of parliamentary seats. Though there is still room for improvement, this is significant progress from Latvia’s 1995 GII of 0.411.

Overall, these top 10 facts about living conditions in Latvia demonstrate that the country has improved significantly in various areas since the 1990s. Though Latvia still has areas that need additional attention and work, the country is on a consistently upward trend of progress and human development.

– Jade Follette
Photo: Flickr

 

Education in Latvia

Improvements in education in Latvia are of the utmost importance, because children are the most impoverished group of Latvians. As of 2012, 23.4 percent of children under the age 17 were living below the poverty line, whereas only 18.8 percent of adults up to 64 years of age and 17.7 percent of Latvians 65 and older were below the poverty threshold.

With so many children living in poverty, receiving an education is the first step towards improving their situation. From 2008 to 2012, there was a decline from 26.3 percent to 23.4 percent of children living in poverty, perhaps due to primary and secondary education being free and mandatory for all native Latvians.

However, there would be a much greater decrease if discrimination was not as prominent within education in Latvia. Children of minorities are denied access to health and education facilities.

Romani and Russian speakers experience language barriers, as Latvian schools do not teach in these languages. Children of these ethnicities are falling into poverty, or remaining in poverty, which greatly affects the country’s overall economy. Russian speakers alone represent a third of Latvia‘s population, greatly influencing the country’s poverty rate.

Fortunately, the European Commission Against Racism and Intolerance has addressed the issue and promises that the Latvian educational system will provide equal access to education and jobs. They demanded that schools alter their curriculum to provide instruction in minority languages and cultures.

Even further, there is a presence of a separate but equal society in which Roma children must attend different classes than their peers, which reinforces the belief that they are not capable of sharing language and education with Latvian students. The Council of Europe’s Anti-Racism Commission is also fighting to end this separation and merge all ethnicities into the same class.

Seeing how Latvia’s population has experienced an increase in its poverty rate, from 19 percent in 2010 to 22.5 percent in 2014, it is vital that the country makes improvements. Providing equal access to both basic and higher education is an important step forward, one that European officials acknowledge. Once Latvia ends racism, education will allow all children to climb out of poverty.

Brianna White

Photo: Flickr

How to Help People in LatviaOne of the smaller Baltic states, Latvia gained its independence from the Soviet Union in 1991, and ever since has been shifting to catch up to the rest of the economies in the EU. Although Latvia is one of the fastest growing economies in the EU, nearly one in three Latvians is at risk of severe poverty and nearly one in five suffer severe material deprivation. Additionally, the GDP per capita of Latvia is only $13,700 – in contrast, the United States’ GDP per capita for 2016 was over $52,000. Considering the close strategic ties between the U.S. and Latvia, this all begs the question of how to help people in Latvia who suffer from poverty.

With the aim of helping Latvia develop as a nation and stamp down its poverty rate, here are some ways to get involved and help the people of Latvia:

  1. In 2014, the U.S. provided Latvia with $67 million worth of assistance through an assortment of military programs run in the country. Writing to members of Congress in favor of continued support for Latvia can allow them to focus their attention and finances on their own economy.
  2. Similarly, the U.S. and Latvia are members of many of the same economic groups – such as the World Trade Organization, the World Bank and NATO. Urging your representatives in Congress to support these groups provides Latvia with access to the resources and assistance provided by them.
  3. Latvia is currently in the process of becoming a member of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) – an international group that seeks to assist nations in improving their economies and the livelihoods of their citizens. Getting involved with the OECD and supporting their initiatives is a tangible way of helping make an impact in the lives of Latvians.
  4. Investing in and purchasing the goods and services of Latvian-based companies puts money directly into the Latvian economy, which is largely based on industries such as transport and telecommunications. For example, choose to fly Air Baltic next time you take a trip to Europe.
  5. Volunteer your time or donate to the American Latvian Association, which has been providing aid to Latvia since 1989.

Ultimately, the choice of how to help people in Latvia most effectively lies in the hands of the Latvian government, but urging U.S. representatives to consider ways to assist Latvia as well as volunteering your own time and money can assist the poor in Latvia in making life a little bit better for themselves.

Erik Halberg
Photo: Flickr

Latvia Poverty RateThe Latvian population has faced many struggles, ranging from political violence to the deepest recession in the world when the financial crisis hit in 2008. In 2013, 32.7 percent of the population in Latvia was at risk of poverty, and that number is only increasing as time goes on. The Latvia poverty rate is extremely high, and it is the third-poorest country in the European Union.

In 2013, the Latvian government developed a policy of turning “welfare into workfare.” This is the practice of welfare being given only for jobs, like road-sweeping. Unfortunately for the government, this resulted primarily in depopulation. While Latvia has had massive amounts of emigration for many years, since this action it saw negative 14,262 net migration. This means that it had far more emigration than immigration.

The highest demographic exiting the country was people of working age, between 15 and 61. This has become a major concern for the Latvian government. Its workforce has decreased massively but unemployment rates are still quite high, resulting in a very high poverty rate.

That being said, there are ways to reduce the Latvia poverty rate, but they will take quite a lot of work from the Latvian government. There are some policies that were enacted before 2010 to address poverty but they were not very effective. There is a minimum wage in Latvia which was updated in 2009 and serves as a very indirect measure for reducing social inequality. Additionally, families are able to apply for social support, so long as they can prove that the income of each family member does not exceed 50 percent of the minimum wage for three months.

The government has not put more measures or economic programs in place for protecting the working class or the unemployed, and this will have to change immediately in order to both encourage repopulation and reduce poverty. There is also a great need for more information collection in the population. Little is known about how current poverty measures are benefiting the Latvian population — if at all.

While current measures are somewhat helpful, Latvia really needs more legislation that will limit the number of people in poverty and put in place measures for improving their economic status. There are currently no policies relating to lifting citizens up out of poverty which is particularly important because the poverty prevention methods really aren’t working. Latvia has quite a way to go before it can consider itself poverty free, but the dedication of the Latvian government and the commitment of other members of the European Union to aid them is a good place to start.

Liyanga De Silva

Photo: Pixabay

Human Rights in LatviaLatvia – a former member of the USSR – is nestled in northeast Europe. It boasts a free market economy and has joined both the EU and NATO. However, with a long history of oppression of human rights, Latvia has struggled to acknowledge and enforce equal rights for all people. Stemming from violence suffered while under the Soviet Union, there are a few key concerns regarding the status of human rights in Latvia.

Latvia has a large number of stateless individuals – over 250,000 of the population. These people, many of whom are children, are not recognized as citizens of Latvia and do not enjoy many of the benefits that come with being a citizen. A lot of these stateless people are ethnic Russians who have difficulty becoming citizens of Latvia due to discrimination.

Discrimination against Russians carries over to many aspects of daily life. People who are not citizens of Latvia endure heavy restrictions in the professional world and are also limited regarding land ownership. Several people have been fired from positions due to possessing an unsatisfactory mastery of the Latvian language. Recently, the mayor of the capital of Latvia was fined for using Russian in a media post. This discriminatory behavior creates a barrier to achieving equal human rights in Latvia.

The U.N. has also raised concern about human rights in Latvia for the disabled. These concerns are specifically regarding the mentally disabled, and representatives for human rights have insisted the Latvian government prioritize the education of disabled children.

Latvia has the EU and the U.N. to hold them accountable for the preservation of human rights, and these organizations have certainly being doing so. While many issues create barriers to attaining the equal treatment of all people, Latvia continues to create reform to try to combat these issues – though there are definitely some areas still needing work. As long as the country is held accountable for its treatment of people, surely progress will be made.

Julia Mccartney

Photo: Flickr

Common Diseases in LatviaBordering the Baltic Sea in Eastern Europe, resting just between Lithuania and Estonia, lies the Republic of Latvia, a nation only slightly larger than West Virginia. Having only gained independence from the Soviet Union in 1991, Latvia’s public health has struggled to remain of high quality. Here are some common diseases in Latvia:

  1. Ischemic Heart Disease
    Ischemic heart disease, also known as coronary artery disease, refers to problems in which the arteries become restricted, thus reducing oxygen and blood flow to the heart. Such conditions can lead to a heart attack. In Latvia, ischemic heart disease was the most common cause of death in 2015, and had been for the previous decade. Since 2005, however, the disease had fortunately decreased in prevalence by 6.7 percent.
  2. Cerebrovascular Disease
    Cerebrovascular disease refers to all disorders in which blood flow to the brain is affected, both permanently or temporarily. The disease can include carotid stenosis, intracranial stenosis and vertebral stenosis, stroke, vascular malformations and aneurysms. In Latvia, cerebrovascular disease was the second most common cause of death in 2015, and had been for the previous 10 years. However, since the previous decade, instances of the disease had gone down by 18.9 percent.
  3. Alzheimer’s Disease
    In 2015, prevalence of Alzheimer’s disease was recorded to be the third-most common cause of death, a bump up from being the fourth-most common cause of death it had been a decade prior. In fact, prevalence of death by Alzheimer’s disease had increased a whopping 35.5 percent since 2005. A progressive form of dementia, Alzheimer’s has no known cure, only treatment. Still, with proper care, patients can live for up to 20 years after their symptoms become noticeable.

As Alzheimer’s is the only major disease in Latvia that has actually been growing more common, the country ought to adopt an action plan which can address the disease through clear public health standards. Through such standards, the most common diseases in Latvia will surely become less common.

Shannon Golden

Photo: Flickr