Life Expectancy in Timor-Leste
Timor-Leste, also known as East Timor, is a nation that occupies the eastern half of the island of Timor in Southeast Asia. With a population of 1.26 million people, Timor-Leste is one of the least populated countries in Asia. The Portuguese originally colonized the country in 1520. After declaring independence in 1975, Indonesia invaded the nation, which occupies the western half of the island. The Indonesian invasion brought violence, famine and disease to Timor-Leste, resulting in a large loss in population. After a majority of the Timorese population voted to become independent in 1999, Indonesia relinquished control and Timor-Leste moved under the supervision of the United Nations. The nation officially became independent in 2002, making it one of the newest nations in the world. These 10 facts about life expectancy in Timor-Leste outline the rapid improvement the country has made since Indonesian occupation and the issues it still needs to overcome.

10 Facts About Life Expectancy in Timor-Leste

  1. Life expectancy in Timor-Leste increased from 32.6 years in 1978 to 69.26 years in 2018, matching that of South Asia. The consistent improvement in life expectancy in the past decade is primarily due to the Ministry of Health’s public health interventions. Such interventions include the reconstruction of health facilities, expansion of community-based health programs and an increase in medical graduates in the workforce.
  2. Life expectancy in Timor-Leste increased despite a drop in GDP, which decreased from $6.67 billion in 2012 to $2.6 billion in 2018. However, Timor-Leste’s GDP rose by 2.8% from 2017 to 2018. Continued improvement in GDP and economic progress in the nation will only serve to increase life expectancy by providing more opportunities for employment, education and improved quality of life.
  3. Tuberculosis was the highest cause of death in 2014, causing 14.68% of deaths. In 2014, estimates determined that Timor-Leste had the highest prevalence of tuberculosis in Southeast Asia, and 46% of people with tuberculosis did not receive a diagnosis in 2017. Maluk Timor, an Australian and Timorese nonprofit committed to advancing primary health care, provides a service through which team members visit Timorese households to locate undiagnosed patients and raise awareness about the severity of tuberculosis in the community. The organization collaborates with the National TB Program and aims to eliminate suffering and deaths in Timor-Leste due to diseases that Australia, which is only one hour away, had already eliminated.
  4. Communicable diseases caused 60% of deaths in 2006 but decreased to causing 45.6% of deaths in 2016. While diseases such as tuberculosis and dengue fever remain a public health challenge, the incidence of malaria drastically declined from over 200,000 cases in 2006 to no cases in 2018 due to early diagnoses, quality surveillance, funding from The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria and support from the World Health Organization.
  5. The adult mortality rate decreased from 672.2 deaths per 1,000 people in 1977 to 168.9 deaths per 1,000 people in 2018. Additionally, the infant mortality rate decreased from 56.6 infant deaths per 1,000 live births in 2008 to 39.3 infant deaths per 1,000 live births in 2018. While public health interventions and disease prevention contributed to the decrease in the adult mortality rate, Timor-Leste needs to expand access to maternal health services in rural areas to continue to improve the infant mortality rate.
  6. Maternal mortality decreased from 796 deaths per 100,000 live births in 1998 to 142 deaths per 100,000 live births in 2017. The leading cause of the high maternal mortality rate is poor access to reproductive health services, as only 43% of women had access to prenatal care in 2006. While the Ministry of Health continues to expand access to maternal health care through mobile health clinics that reach over 400 rural villages, only 30% of Timorese women gave birth with a health attendant present in 2013. Even as access increases, challenges such as family planning services, immunization, treatment for pneumonia and vitamin A supplementation remain for mothers in rural communities.
  7. The violent crisis for independence in 1999 destroyed more than 80% of health facilities. Despite rehabilitation efforts to rebuild the health system, many facilities at the district level either have limited or no access to water. However, the number of physicians per 1,000 people improved from 0.1 in 2004 to 0.7 in 2017. The capacity of the health care system is also improving, as UNICEF supports the Ministry of Health in providing increased training for health care workers in maternal and newborn issues and in striving to improve evidence-based public health interventions.
  8. Timor-Leste has one of the highest malnutrition rates in the world. At least 50% of children suffered from malnutrition in 2013. Additionally, in 2018, 27% of the population experienced food deprivation. USAID activated both the Reinforce Basic Health Services Activity and Avansa Agrikultura Project from 2015-2020 to address the capacity of health workers to provide reproductive health care and the productivity of horticulture chains to stimulate economic growth in poor rural areas. Both projects aim to combat malnutrition by addressing prenatal health and encouraging a plant-based lifestyle that fuels the economy.
  9. Motherhood at young ages and education levels are key contributors to malnutrition, as 18% of women began bearing children by the age of 19 in 2017. Teenage girls are far more likely to experience malnourishment than older women in Timor-Leste, contributing to malnutrition in the child and therefore lowering life expectancy for both mother and child. As a result of malnutrition, 58% of children under 5 suffered from stunting in 2018. Additionally, findings determined that stunting levels depended on the wealth and education level of mothers. In fact, 63% of children whose mothers did not receive any formal education experienced stunting, while the number dropped to 53% in children whose mothers received a formal education.
  10. Education enrollment rates are increasing, as the net enrollment rate in secondary education increased from 40.5% in 2010 to 62.7% in 2018. Completion of secondary education links to higher life expectancy, especially in rural areas. Since 2010, Timor-Leste has increased spending on education. Additionally, local nonprofit Ba Futuru is working to train teachers to promote quality learning environments in high-need schools. After Ba Futuru worked with schools for nine months, students reported less physical punishment and an increase in innovative and engaging teaching methods in their classrooms. The organization serves over 10,000 students and provides scholarships for school supplies for hundreds of students. With more programs dedicated to increasing enrollment and the classroom environment, students are more likely to complete secondary education and increase both their quality of life and life expectancy.

These 10 facts about life expectancy in Timor-Leste indicate an optimistic trend. Although malnutrition, disease and adequate access to health care remain prevalent issues in Timor-Leste, the nation’s life expectancy has rapidly increased since Indonesian occupation and has steadily improved its education and health care systems since its founding in 2002. To continue to improve life expectancy, Timor-Leste should continue to focus its efforts on improving public health access and community awareness in poor rural areas, and particularly to emphasize maternal health services to reduce both maternal and infant mortality rates. Despite being one of the newest nations in the world, Timor-Leste shows promise and progress.

Melina Stavropoulos
Photo: Flickr

Healthcare in HungarySince the year 2000, Hungary has made strides to improve its healthcare system, which for decades has lagged behind the healthcare systems of other countries in the European Union (EU). Unequal issuing of medical equipment, the prevalence of smoking, drinking and obesity and an unstable political system have resulted in systematic healthcare issues in Hungary, which disproportionately affect citizens living in poverty. Here are seven facts everyone should know about healthcare in Hungary.

7 Facts About Healthcare in Hungary

  1. Hungary has one of the lowest life expectancies in the EU. In 2017, life expectancy in Hungary averaged 76 years, a four-year increase since the year 2000. Despite the improvement, the Hungarian life expectancy is still 4.9 years behind that of other Europeans. Hungarians have higher rates of risk factors, such as smoking, obesity and underage alcohol consumption than other countries in the EU, which can contribute to early death.
  2. As of 2017, Hungary’s rate of amenable mortality is twice that of the rest of the EU. Amenable mortality refers to deaths from diseases and conditions that are nonfatal when given appropriate medical care.
  3. Socioeconomic inequalities in Hungary contribute to lower life expectancy. Lower-income Hungarians are more likely to report unmet medical needs than those with a higher income. Out-of-pocket spending in the country is double the EU average and medical care is most readily available to those who can afford to pay. Though access to medical care is not an issue across the board, lower-income Hungarians are 11 times more likely to complain of unmet healthcare needs.
  4. Healthcare in Hungary suffers from an unequal distribution of equipment. According to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, the Hungarian counties with the lowest health status tend to also have the lowest numbers of necessary medical supplies. The distribution of resources is concentrated largely in the capital of Budapest and the counties with the highest health status. The city of Budapest alone has 87% more doctors and 64% more hospital bed space than the rest of the country.
  5. Healthcare in Hungary does excel in some areas but still has systematic problems. In 2016, the Euro Health Consumer Index ranked the Hungarian healthcare system 30th out of 35 countries in the EU. Though Hungary does excel in infant vaccination and physical education, it has some of the EU’s highest waiting times for CT scans and a higher than average occurrence of lung disease, infections and cancer deaths. It also had the second-highest prevalence of bribery among hospital workers. Hungarian physicians are particularly susceptible to this form of corruption due to their low pay. Their acceptance of these so-called “gratitude payments” puts those who cannot afford to pay extra at a disadvantage.
  6. The World Health Organization (WHO) rewarded the government’s anti-tobacco initiatives. In 2013, the WHO awarded Prime Minister Viktor Orbán with its WHO Special Recognition award for “accomplishments in the area of tobacco control.” In recent years, the Hungarian government has developed anti-tobacco campaigns to quell the high percentage of smokers in the country. These reforms include changing the labels on tobacco products to include warnings of the potential side effects of smoking and banning smoking in public spaces. The country has also taken steps to ban advertisements for tobacco products and, since then, has seen a reduction of smoking-related deaths.
  7. Reforms to increase the healthcare workforce are in progress. In November 2018, the government rolled out a plan to increase physicians’ pay 72% by 2022, and, in early 2020, announced government scholarships for 3,200 people in order to bring more Hungarians into the understaffed nursing profession.

Healthcare in Hungary today is still behind many other countries in the European Union. Hungarians have lower life expectancies than other Europeans and the country is in need of more skilled doctors and nurses to properly treat all of its people. However, in recent years, the Hungarian government has invested more money to reduce the country’s high rates of smoking-related deaths and increase the healthcare workforce. Healthcare in Hungary has experienced positive change in recent years and, with more investments in the healthcare sector, more necessary reforms can be made.

Jackie McMahon
Photo: Flickr

Life Expectancy in Tonga
Tonga is a country located in the South Pacific Ocean, within the South Pacific archipelago. The sovereign state consists of a total of 176 islands that spread across 270,000 square miles, 36 of which contain a fast-growing population of 100,651 people. About 70% of the 100,651 people live on the main island, Tongatapu. While life expectancy is on the rise throughout the country, there are still many health concerns. Here are 10 facts about life expectancy in Tonga.

10 Facts About Life Expectancy in Tonga

  1. Life expectancy rates in Tonga have been steadily rising for the past 70 years. In 1950, the average life expectancy was 55.78 years. Today, the life expectancy is 70.97 years. As of 2018, male life expectancy was 68.9, and female life expectancy was 72.8. This is most likely due to improvements in sanitation, housing and education. According to the U.N.’s projections, Tonga’s life expectancy will continue to increase and grow to 74.30 by 2050.
  2. The leading cause of death for all ages in Tonga is non-communicable diseases (NCDs). According to the Tongan Ministry of Health and the World Health Organization (WHO), NCDs account for the majority of deaths in Tonga. These include cardiovascular disease, cancer, respiratory diseases, diabetes and more. Factors such as lack of physical activity, smoking daily, alcohol use, obesity, high blood pressure and eating less than five servings of fruit and vegetables per day increase the risk of developing NCDs. Of the population, 60.7% is at high risk of developing or having an NCD and 39.2% at moderate risk. One study even found that one out of every ten hospital patients in Tonga was admitted due to an NCD.
  3. The NCD that kills most people in the country is coronary heart disease. The latest data from 2017 reports that of every 100,000 Tongans, 128.72 (16.64% of the population) die from coronary heart disease.
  4. Tonga’s fertility rate has been decreasing since the 1950s. However, despite the steady decrease, Tonga’s fertility rate remains high compared to other countries. In 1955, the fertility rate in Tonga was 7.3 births per woman. Today, it is currently at 3.2 births per woman. In comparison, in Australia, there were 3.0 births per woman in 1950 but only 1.86 births per woman in 2015.
  5. Obesity is extremely prevalent among Tonga’s population. An important risk factor to NCDs, obesity has been increasing in Tonga since 1975. In 1975, 47.8% of people 18 and older were obese. In 2016, the obesity rate had jumped to 75.6%. This year, Tonga ranks number two in the world for the highest body mass index (BMI) with its population having an average BMI of 31.9. Tonga falls just below the world’s most obese country, Nauru, which has a BMI of 32.5. Tonga’s obesity rate is due to a couple of factors, including low levels of physical activity and poor diets.
  6. The diet of Tongans plays an important role in the level of obesity throughout the country. Most Tongan’s diets once consisted of root vegetables, coconuts and fish. Since joining the global economy, diets have become highly processed and fatty. The average diet is now made up of rice, bread, canned fish, sugar, salt and packaged noodles.
  7. Tobacco use, another risk factor for NCDs, has been slowly decreasing in Tonga. In 2000, 36.3% of the population used tobacco. The most recently projected smoking rate puts tobacco use at 27.9%.
  8. Health-related issues make up most of Tonga’s other top causes of death. Other top causes of death in Tonga include diabetes (13.63%), stroke (9.91%), influenza and pneumonia (7.26%), breast cancer (2.83%) and lung disease (4.60%).
  9. More people have slowly moved into Tonga’s urban areas in recent years. In 1955, the urban population was at just 15%, while today the percentage has risen to 76%. This urbanization results in a more sedentary lifestyle, which, in turn, becomes a risk factor for developing obesity.
  10. Tonga is the first country in the Pacific Islands to develop a plan to fight obesity. In 2017, the Tongan government implemented a tax on imported foods in hopes of discouraging people from purchasing them. The tax included items such as mutton flaps, industrial chicken and turkey tails. There are also groups such as Tonga Health Promotion Foundation (TongaHealth) that fight obesity in hopes of improving life expectancy. TongaHealth was established in 2007 by the Health Promotion Foundation Act. Dedicated to the prevention of NCDs in Tonga, the group recognizes the urgency in the country’s rising number of NCDs. It fights the risks by focusing on educating the population on topics such as healthy eating, physical activity, tobacco control and alcohol control.

While life expectancy rates are on the rise in Tonga, there is still work to be done to improve the health of Tongans and further increase life expectancy. Tobacco use, alcohol use, a lack of physical activity and poor diet are all putting Tongans at risk for obesity and NCDs. Moving forward, the government and other humanitarian organizations must focus their efforts on improving health and life expectancy in Tonga.

– Marlee Septak
Photo: Flickr

10 Facts about Life Expectancy in NauruNauru is an eight square mile island in the Central Pacific, located almost 2,500 miles northeast from Australia and with a population of nearly 13,000 people. Nauru has faced multiple major challenges in the past including diminishing all of its phosphate reserves and being the home of a controversial detention center for the refugees seeking asylum in Australia. However, in recent years, major improvements in the country’s quality of life have occurred, subsequently increasing the life expectancy of Nauru. These 10 facts about life expectancy in Nauru outline the progress the country has made in recent years.

10 Facts About Life Expectancy in Nauru

  1. Life expectancy in Nauru is increasing. In 2020, it reached 68.4 years in contrast with the average life expectancy in 2000 of 60 years old.
  2. The unemployment rate has dropped immensely. In 2004, 90% of the country did not have employment. Meanwhile, strip mining ravaged the island, rendering most of its land unusable for agriculture, forestry or recreation. Additionally, these practices almost caused the school system to collapse. Nauru mined all of its phosphate resources and shipped them off to other countries to use as fertilizer. The country was simultaneously combating corruption, climate change and money-laundering. Despite these issues, the unemployment rate in 2011 has dropped by almost 70%, and after nine years, it is currently sitting at 23%. As the unemployment rate decreases, more people should be able to sustain themselves despite the country’s slowly growing economy, consequently boosting the life expectancy.
  3. The health crisis directly correlates with Nauru’s social and economic circumstances. Extreme levels of heart disease, type 2 diabetes and obesity are dropping in Nauru. While more than 70% of people in Nauru were obese in 2018, the percentage dropped to 45% in 2014. Slowly, but surely, people are starting to decrease their alcohol and tobacco consumption and choose a healthier lifestyle.
  4. From 1960-1970, Nauru held one of the highest GDPs, conceding only to oil-rich Saudi Arabia. In 1973, Nauru’s Annual GDP was $26 million. Meanwhile, Saudi Arabia’s was almost $15 million. Nauru lost its rich economic potential during the crash of the phosphate industry and unfortunately, Nauru has exhausted all of its natural resources. Today, Nauru’s GDP is only $112 million and it is surviving with Australia’s help and ambitious plans for the future.
  5. Nauru has 1.24 physicians per 1,000 of the population. Meanwhile, 96.5% of people have access to improved drinking water sources, such as protected wells or public taps. Nauru has more physicians available for its population than countries like Chile, Egypt, Iran and Vietnam.
  6. Around 11% of Nauru’s federal budget or expenditure goes towards the health of its citizens. Nauru’s facilities include two big hospitals located on the island that provide free medical and dental treatments for Nauruans and employees of the Nauru Phosphate Corporation. Furthermore, while the risks of contracting bacterial diarrhea and malaria are high, Nauru is on its way to completing the Millennium Development Goals. The Millennium Development Goals, outlined by the World Health Organization (WHO), aim to reduce the prevalence of malaria and HIV as well as child mortality. It is also important to note that for a developing country, Nauru’s mortality rate from these diseases is low.
  7. Nauru is partnering with the Green Climate Fund to upgrade its maritime port. This partnership will directly boost Nauru’s food security, local economy, commerce and life expectancy. It will be easier for shipping vessels to disembark and for local business owners to have new opportunities due to incoming exports. Nauru is also advancing its Higher Ground Initiative, which will remove infrastructure from coastal areas and place them elsewhere. Both the Higher Ground Initiative and the new port facility will stimulate employment, create renewable energy and provide a stable income for many. These developments will, in turn, improve the citizens’ Human Development Index (HDI), which estimates the wellbeing, health and life expectancy in Nauru.
  8. Another partnership with The World Health Organization (WHO) resulted in the National Health Strategic Plan of 2018-2022, an attempt to revive Nauru’s healthcare system. This plan will implement high immunization coverage, improve mental health, monitor the drinking-water quality, strengthen systems that protect people from HIV, STIs and tuberculosis and create a national plan to increase life expectancy in Nauru. In 2019, the WHO discovered that Nauru had zero cases of bacterial diarrhea, influenza, donor lymphocyte infusions and pulmonary fibrosis. This suggests that the implemented health plan has made positive changes.
  9. The mortality rate of children under 5 years old has been decreasing. In 2018, the mortality rate was 32 deaths per 1,000 live births. In 2020, it dropped to 7.4 deaths per 1,000 births. The mortality rate has also decreased by more than 97% as skilled health staff now assist all births.
  10. Despite economic and health care progress, life expectancy for refugees in Nauru remains low. Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) reported that out of the 208 refugee patients that it served, 60% had suicidal thoughts and 30% attempted suicide.  The life expectancy of refugees living in detention camps is also low. The Guardian reported two dire instances of refugees’ desperation. In the first, a refugee set himself on fire out of despair and powerlessness. In the second instance, a 12-year-old boy was at risk of dying from a two-week-long hunger strike out of hopelessness.

While Nauru is making a lot of progress in its health care and economy, it must continue addressing its refugee crisis that leads to the loss of innocent lives. A coalition of prominent NGOs and Australia’s largest human rights organizations such as the Refugee Council of Australia and Australian Lawyers Alliance are working to re-locate refugee children from Nauru to Australia. In 2019, many resettled in the United States and Australia.

If Nauru continues to strive for financial independence, provide jobs for its people and create stable sources of income, it could eliminate many of the country’s health problems that come from smoking and alcohol addiction. This, in turn, should increase life expectancy in Nauru. By developing as an economically stable and self-sufficient country, it may also no longer need to support Australia’s controversial detention camps for asylum seekers.

– Anna Sharudenko
Photo: Flickr

Life expectancy in Hungary
Socioeconomic discrepancies and health issues, such as cardiovascular disease and cancer, have contributed to life expectancy in Hungary, a landlocked country in central Europe. Here are 10 facts about life expectancy in Hungary.

10 Facts About Life Expectancy in Hungary

  1. Life Expectancy: Life expectancy at birth in Hungary was approximately 76 years in 2017. Meanwhile, women had a mortality rate of approximately 80 per 1,000 female adults, whereas men had a mortality rate of about 168 per 1,000 male adults.
  2. Regional Differences: While individuals living in Eastern Hungary have higher GDP values, indicative of greater overall economic benefit, those in the western regions of the country are at a greater disadvantage. For example, for those living in Budapest, the GDP per capita was a little more than 5,000 forints per capita, whereas those living in Western Hungary, like Szabolcs-Szatmár-Bereg, had a GDP per capita of fewer than 2,000 forints per capita. Western Hungarian areas, like South Transdanubia, often experience worse economic conditions and poorer health, contributing to lower life expectancy. Men living in Budapest have four years higher life expectancy at birth than males in Szabolcs-Szatmár-Bereg. With regard to female life expectancy at birth, there is a gap of approximately 1.5 years between these two regions.
  3. Socioeconomic Effects: Socioeconomic discrepancies have influenced life expectancy trends in Hungary as well. In comparing the life expectancies of 25-year-old men and women residing in Hungary, those who had access to a university education had life expectancies that exceeded those of individuals who did not finish secondary education by nearly nine years.
  4. Risk Factors: In 2010, dietary risks, followed by high blood pressure, tobacco and smoking, were the leading risk factors of those living in Hungary. For those under the age of 5 and adults between 15 and 49 years old, iron deficiency was a leading risk factor, followed by alcohol use in 2010.
  5. Disease Prevalence: Cardiovascular disease and cancer account for approximately 75% of all deaths in Hungary. Analyzing the effects of these diseases more specifically, ischemic heart disease, lung cancer and stroke caused the majority of deaths and, ultimately, played a significant role in lowering life expectancy.
  6. Health Expenditure: Hungary spent approximately 6.88% of its GDP on health-related services and issues in 2017. This is lower than the worldwide average of approximately 9.896% in the same year.
  7. Quality of Care: With cancer being a leading factor in determining life expectancy, it is essential to examine what Hungary is currently implementing in order to curtail such a disease. Despite having the highest European cancer death rates, Hungary had instituted relatively poor screening programs to lower the prevalence of cancer. In 2015, only 47% of Hungarian women between the ages of 45 and 65 received screening for breast cancer in the previous two years, and the rate of screening for cervical cancer was even lower. In 2017, however, Hungary developed a voluntary colorectal screening to better address the development of cancer among populations.
  8. Hospitalization: A high amount of hospitalizations in Hungary have been the result of preventable health issues. Such a finding is indicative of primary care quality. In making improvements to primary care systems, the number of hospitalizations could decrease, resulting in greater prevention of deaths and potentially higher life expectancies.
  9. Influence of the Pharmaceutical Industry: Approximately 50% of all government funds have gone towards driving the development of the pharmaceutical industry. A readjustment of spending towards making improvements in public procurement practices and encouraging generic medical prescriptions instead would allow for effective means of slowing the development of health conditions that only serve to aggravate life expectancy.
  10. The Impact of Health Worker: With more and more health care workers leaving Hungary to practice in other countries, many communities inevitably experience less access to means of improving health. In order to address this issue, the Hungarian government developed a type of residence scholarship program, in which medical residents received a monthly raise if they committed to public sector work while attaining their specialization. In addition, health professionals who were already working within the system experienced an increase of 20% in their salaries.

With the wide range of issues negatively impacting life expectancy in Hungary, the World Health Organization (WHO) has offered multiple constructive solutions. Due to the fact that Hungary instituted a more hospital-centralized health system, duration of stay, together with preventable hospitalization, have increased in prevalence. This has been evident in the lower effectiveness of primary care providers and an absence of adequate addressing of health issues in communities. In order to prevent the consequences associated with such problems, WHO has emphasized the significance of both improving community health care accessibility and the methods of primary health care workers. Consequently, despite issues with health systems in Hungary, the implementation of such solutions could result in improved health conditions and, ultimately, higher life expectancies.

– Aprile Bertomo
Photo: Flickr

10 Facts About Life Expectancy in Slovenia Slovenia is a small, coastal country in Southeastern Europe. It is an average country in the E.U. by many measures; however, the average life expectancy is higher than many of its neighbors despite commonly held unhealthy habits. Here are 10 facts about life expectancy in Slovenia.

10 Facts About Life Expectancy in Slovenia

  1. Life expectancy and Healthcare: The life expectancy is higher than in the U.S. despite the fact that the U.S. spends markedly more on diagnostic medical equipment and screenings. The highest health care expenditure per capita is held by the U.S. By contrast, Slovenia ranks number 24 in the world and has a socialized health care system
  2. Life expectancy Average: The average life expectancy at birth is 82 years. This is significantly higher than its neighbors Bosnia, Croatia, Hungary and Serbia and that of the E.U. as a whole. A rapid increase in life expectancy at birth in recent years is likely the cause.
  3. High Mortality Rate with Cancer: Mortality from Cancer is higher than the OECD average of 201. About 243 people per 100 million die from cancer. It ranks third-highest for all OECD countries, and the most common cause of death from cancer is lung cancer. However, the cancer mortality rate has been falling in recent decades.
  4. Increased Life expectancy at Birth: Life expectancy increased drastically from 1997-2014. One study largely attributed the rise to a proportional decline in deaths from circulatory diseases and cancer during that time. There were greater gains for older adults than for adults of working age. Like many countries in the world, Slovenia might face new socioeconomic challenges due to an aging population.
  5. Rise in the Average Age of Death: The average age of death rose 10 percent between 1987 and 2017In 1987, it was 68.8% and rose to 77.7% in 2017, according to the Statistics Office of Slovenia. People lived longer in southwestern Slovenia than in northeastern Slovenia. The Mediterranean lifestyle in the south is thought to account for some of the difference. 
  6. Support System: Around “92% of people believe they know someone they can rely in a time of need.” This fact might be one of the biggest reasons behind the relatively high life expectancy in Slovenia. A 1995 study that followed adults from 18-95 showed that those that had adult children or living parents saw an increase in life expectancy. However, the study did not see an increase in adults that had children living at home.
  7. The Suicide Rate Is Declining. The suicide rate still remains high in Slovenia, but it is at a much lower level than it was 15 years ago when the number of deaths attributed to suicide was 529 people. In 2015, 388 people committed suicide. That is the first time that the number of deaths fell below 400 in four decades. NGOs have aided in suicide prevention by offering psychological assistance and creating suicide helplines.
  8. Lower Life Satisfaction: Slovenians are less satisfied with life compared to the OECD average. Despite having a high life expectancy, Slovenians are not particularly satisfied with their lives on average. Wealth inequality is high with the top 20% earning four times as much as the bottom 20%.
  9. Slovenians Smoke and Drink More than Average. Around 19% of Slovenians smoke every day. It has the fifth-highest alcoholism rate both of which may contribute to the country’s high, though falling, rate of cardiovascular disease. 
  10. Slovenians Exercise More than the OECD Average. Universities promote exercise in Slovenia. They also eat more fruits and vegetables than average. Both of these habits might be helping to balance out the deleterious effects of some of the bad habits of Slovenians. 

These 10 facts about life expectancy in Slovenia show that the country has a number of issues to address in the area of health. However, life expectancy in this country is relatively high. Good social support as shown by the fact that 92% of people feel they have someone they can turn to in need may be one of the reasons. With increased awareness of the mental and physical health challenges the country faces, Slovenia’s life expectancy will most likely continue to increase.

Caleb Steven Carr
Photo: Flickr

Poverty in the Maldives
People might know the Maldives for its clean blue waters, luxurious resorts and the millions of tourists that visit the archipelago but may not know that the small island nation continues to tussle for its economy and against poverty. Poverty in the Maldives dates back to the early 1980s when it became part of a list of the 20 poorest countries in the world. The 2004 tsunami further weakened the economy of the island nation, which consists of 1,192 tropical islands. A global financial crisis emerged in 2008, putting the country in a vulnerable position.

Current Scenario

Statistics from the Asian Development Bank state that the GDP in the Maldives rose to $4.51 billion in 2018 from a mere $42.46 million in 1979. Wealth inequality does not persist in the Maldives and poverty rates vary across geographic locations. As the World Bank expected, the GDP growth slowed down from 6.7 percent in 2018 to 5.2 percent in 2019. Poverty in the Maldives is no longer a crisis, but the risks remain high.

Sustainable Development Goals

The country has been victorious in achieving a few of its Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Observations have determined that the annual rise in GDP is around 5 percent. The tourism industry, fisheries and other sources have played a significant role in strengthening the economy and employment rate. Half of the economy of the island nation comes from tourism and another 12 percent comes from the fisheries across the islands.

There might be people with very low incomes but there are no urban beggars or slum dwellers, even with an increase in the rural-urban migration rates. Recently, literacy rates in the Maldives have reached around 100 percent. There are no major causes of diseases and infections in the Maldives. The starvation rate is zero as well.

Unemployment

In 2018, the unemployment rate was 6.1 percent, with youth unemployment making up 15.3 percent. More than half of the working strata of people are employees in the tourism sector or fisheries, which often makes them fall sick. About 8.2 percent of the total population falls below the national poverty line.

Life Span

The life spans of citizens have increased considerably thanks to the rapid and drastic expansion in economy and infrastructure. According to the World Bank, the Maldives’ life expectancy in 2018 reached 77.2 years. Meanwhile, life expectancy was only 69.2 years in the year 2000. The increase in life expectancy has been considerable. However, there is a certain limitation to that as well since the island nation has limited infrastructure and resources.

Although the GDP increases every year, this pattern in economic growth is quite irregular. New establishments in the tourism industry and infrastructure should bring the GDP to 5.5 percent in 2020.

There is no denying that the country has made drastic improvements to help the situation of poverty in the Maldives. However, the situation continues to be fragile and vulnerable. If the Maldives continues to grow its tourism industry and infrastructure, it should be able to continue to reduce poverty in the future.

Astha Mamtani
Photo: Flickr

Life Expectancy in Slovenia 
Slovenia is a small, coastal country in Southeastern Europe and is an average country in the EU by many measures. However, the country’s life expectancy is higher than many of its neighbors, despite commonly held unhealthy habits. Here are 10 facts about life expectancy in Slovenia.

10 Facts About Life Expectancy in Slovenia

  1. As of 2020, the average life expectancy at birth is 81.4 years. Men live to age 78 years on average while women live to about 84 years. This is significantly higher than Slovenia’s neighbors, Bosnia, Croatia, Hungary and Serbia, and the EU as a whole. A rapid increase in life expectancy at birth in recent years is likely the cause.
  2. Between 1950 and 2020, life expectancy in Slovenia rose by more than 15 years. The average age of death in 1950 was only 64.7 years.
  3. Life expectancy is greater in southwestern Slovenia than in northeastern Slovenia. The Mediterranean lifestyle in the south is thought to account for some of the difference.
  4. Mortality from cancer is higher than the OECD average. 243 people per 100,000,000 die from cancer, above the average of 201. It ranks third highest for all OECD countries. One reason could be poor cancer management among men. The most common cause of death from cancer is lung cancer. However, the cancer mortality rate has been falling in recent decades, in part due to a decrease in smoking among men.
  5. One study largely attributed the rise in life expectancy in Slovenia to a proportional decline in deaths from circulatory diseases and cancer during that time. There were greater gains for older adults than for adults of working age. Like many countries in the world, Slovenia is expected to face new socioeconomic challenges due to an aging population.
  6. 92 percent of people believe they know someone they can turn to in times of need. This fact might be one of the biggest reasons behind the relatively high life expectancy in Slovenia. A study published in 2002 that followed adults from 18-95 showed that those who had adult children or living parents saw an increase in life expectancy. 
  7. The suicide rate in Slovenia is declining. It still remains high, but it’s at a much lower level than it was 15 years ago when the number of deaths attributed to suicide was 529 people per year. In 2014, 388 people committed suicide which was the first time that the number of deaths fell below 400 in four decades. NGOs have aided in suicide prevention by offering psychological assistance and creating suicide helplines. Ozara is one such organization. They provide psychosocial support for people with chronic mental illness so that they can reintegrate into society.
  8. Compared to the OECD average, Slovenians are less satisfied with life. Despite having a high life expectancy, Slovenians are not particularly satisfied with their lives on average. Wealth inequality is high, with the top 20 percent earning four times as much as the bottom 20 percent.
  9. Smoking and alcohol consumption in Slovenia are greater than average19 percent of Slovenians smoke every day, and it has the fifth-highest alcoholism rate, both of which may contribute to the country’s high, though falling, rate of cardiovascular disease. In 2014, 50 NGOs, including No Excuses Slovenia, prepared amendments to the Restriction of the Use of Tobacco Act called The Slovenian Youth Manifesto on Tobacco, showing that young people are very active in trying to solve Slovenia’s tobacco problem.
  10. They exercise more than the OECD average. Exercise is promoted and made accessible by universities. The people of Slovenia also eat more fruits and vegetables than average. In 2010 the Slovenian government passed legislation for a new School Meals Program that made it mandatory for school lunches to follow dietary guidelines for healthy nutrition. Regular exercise and healthy diets might be helping to balance out the negative effects of some of the bad habits held by Slovenians. 

These 10 facts about life expectancy in Slovenia show that the country has a number of issues to address in the area of health. However, life expectancy in this country is relatively high. With increased awareness of the mental and physical health challenges the country faces, Slovenia’s life expectancy will likely continue to increase.

– Caleb Carr
Photo: Pixabay

10 Facts about Life Expectancy in AndorraAndorra is a small principality nestled between Spain and France, with a population of 77,000 people. Famous for its ski resorts and status as a tax haven, Andorra also happens to have one of the highest life expectancies in the world. Here are 10 facts about life expectancy in Andorra.

10 Facts About Life Expectancy in Andorra

  1. Andorrans live to 83 years on average. According to the CIA, the country has the ninth highest life expectancy in the world. While the life expectancy of male Andorrans is 80.8 years, female Andorran life expectancy is 85.4 years.
  2. The culture of Andorra encourages exercise and physical activity. Andorra’s mountainous terrain has fostered a culture of physical fitness. Hiking, skiing and other recreational activities are commonplace in Andorra.
  3. Andorra has one of the best public health care systems in the world. Around 75 percent of outpatient medical care is reimbursed. About 90 percent of hospital expenses are reimbursed too.
  4. Infant mortality in Andorra is declining. According to UNICEF data, the current under-5 infant mortality rate in Andorra is 2.9 out of 1,000 live births. This is a significant improvement from the rate in 1990, where 10.8 infants out of 1,000 live births died.
  5. Ischemic Heart Disease (IHD) is the leading preventable cause of premature death in Andorra. IHD is caused by a buildup in the arteries, which restricts blood flow into the heart. In the long term, IHD can lead to a heart attack. According to a WHO report, while tobacco usage and high blood pressure rate are going down, obesity is on the rise in Andorra as more people are consuming fast foods. Still, the majority of the population maintains a Mediterranean diet with the following staples: lean meat, vegetables and olive oil.
  6. The entire population of Andorra has access to an improved water source. However, the overall surface water quality does give rise to some concerns. In 2017, the Andorran Ministry of Environment reported that 86 percent of surface water in Andorra was of high quality, while 8 percent was of acceptable quality, 3 percent of poor quality and 3 percent of very poor quality.
  7. Every citizen in Andorra has access to improved sanitation facilities. Since 1996, Andorra installed four wastewater purification plants. The wastewater purification plants purify almost 100 percent of sewage in Andorra.
  8. The immunization rate in Andorra is very high. According to the WHO, Andorra has a general vaccination rate of 99 percent. Early childhood diseases such as measles, HepB3 and rubella are some of the most common diseases that Andorran kids get vaccinated for.
  9. The physician density of Andorra is 3.33 physicians per 1,000 people. This causes some concerns since this is a drop from 2010, which had 4 physicians per 1,000 people. In addition, the current physician density in Andorra is below the E.U. average, which is around 3.5 physicians per 1,000 people.
  10. Crime is nearly “nonexistent” in Andorra. There is one prison with a few dozen inmates, bringing peace of mind to citizens of the small state. Andorran diplomat, Juli Minoves, said it best in 2008: “I think that gives a lot of peace of mind to people. I think there is a psychological factor here, a feeling of safeness that people start to absorb from the moment they are born. Plus, there is a long tradition of democracy, of solving conflict in an amicable way.”

Lifestyle factors, a safe environment and access to excellent health care are the main contributors to an exceptionally high life expectancy rate in Andorra. A close-knit sense of community among Andorrans also contributes to a happy and healthy way of life in the European country.

YongJin Yi
Photo: Flickr

10 Facts about Life Expectancy in Brunei Darussalam
Brunei Darussalam is a small, Southeast Asian country nestled in the Indonesian Archipelago. Currently, the average life expectancy is about 76 years, which is roughly four years higher than the U.N.’s estimated global average of about 72.6 years. While certain factors like an individual’s personal habits and existing health conditions can factor into life expectancy, socioeconomic status drives this number on a larger level. With this in mind, here are 10 facts about life expectancy in Brunei Darussalam.

10 Facts About Life Expectancy in Brunei Darussalam

  1. The life expectancy in Brunei Darussalam has been steadily increasing. Since the 1950s, life expectancy was a mere 50 years old, whereas it is now 75.93 years. Women on average tend to live to 77 years old, while men live to be about 74.
  2. The infant mortality rate is worsening. As of 2018, there were about 9.8 deaths in infants for every 1,000 live births before they reached 1 year old. This number has been creeping up, since it was 7.7 per 1,000 in 2005, due to the high amount of babies being born underweight and the persistence of deficient red blood cells in women and young children.
  3. According to the U.N.’s Human Development Report, Brunei Darussalam is ‘very high in human development.’ It ranked Brunei Darussalam 39th among the world’s powers – tied with Saudi Arabia. Its Human Development Index ranking went up one from 2016, when it ranked 40, still falling within the ‘very high’ ranking in human development. Life expectancy is a component that the U.N. uses to measure a nation’s development index.
  4. The population has been increasing since 1955. While the rate of this increase is lessening, the percentage of the population that has urbanized has been increasing, with the urbanization percentage rising to 79.5 percent from its 34.6 percent in 1955. Urbanization largely occurs with an increased life expectancy, more employment opportunities and physical development within a nation.
  5. Most of the population over the age of 15 has employment. More men have employment than women at 70.6 percent, with the percentage of employed women sitting at 51.5 percent. This is an increase from 1991 when only 44.5 percent of women had work. Studies show that those in the labor force tend to live longer than those who are not.
  6. Coronary heart disease is the leading cause of death. As of 2007 and holding true to 2017, coronary heart disease remains the leading cause of death in Brunei, with it also being the leading cause of premature deaths.  In a study that determined the leading cause of death and disability combined, coronary heart disease ranked second.
  7. The rate of adult literacy in Brunei is 95.3 percent. In 2009, Brunei launched a new education program, which would give the populace a free six years of primary school and four or five years of secondary school, with the option for the pursuit of higher education or vocational school available. Literacy and life expectancy link together through socioeconomic factors, with those who are literate likely living in more favorable socioeconomic circumstances, which ultimately leads to a higher life expectancy.
  8. Brunei has an immunization coverage of 97.8 percent. This exceeds The World Health Organization’s target, which is 95 percent. Immunization is a major contributor to the increased global average life expectancy, as it protects people from diseases that were often fatal prior to vaccines.
  9. Brunei boasts good air quality. According to a real-time map index, the various checkpoints throughout Brunei (Kuala Belait, Pekan Tutong, Brunei Muara and Temburong) have consistently been reporting satisfactory air quality that poses little to no threat, the healthiest setting on the scale. This is comparable to the surrounding checkpoints in Malaysia, which indicate that people who are particularly sensitive to air pollution might be at risk.
  10. Brunei has a reliable infrastructure. Brunei’s population pays no income or sales taxes. Those in Brunei also enjoy low crime rates, free public schooling up through secondary education, free health care and subsidized housing, all of which contribute to a higher life expectancy.

The overall life expectancy in Brunei Darussalam, as well as components that contribute to a higher life expectancy, are doing well within the standards of the developed world. These 10 facts about life expectancy in Brunei Darussalam provide more information on several issues in the country.

Catherine Lin
Photo: Wikimedia Commons