10 Facts About Life Expectancy in Lithuania
With strong connections to the Nordic countries of Northern Europe and the European Union, the Republic of Lithuania is located at the shores of the Baltic Seas in Europe. The nation has an intriguing history: while maintaining independence since 1990, Lithuania has also been occupied by foreign powers for many years out of the last two centuries.

Lithuania has an extremely high quality of life under a stable democratic system. This may be connected to continental trade through the E.U.’s free movement agreement and global security through N.A.T.O membership. Despite experiencing stability and growth, life expectancy in Lithuania has seen several fluctuations; even after a decade of continuous growth, it remains below average for the area. Here are 10 facts about life expectancy in Lithuania.

10 Facts About Life Expectancy in Lithuania

  1. The current life expectancy in Lithuania is 74.6 years. Compared to other European Union nations, who average at 84 years, life expectancy in Lithuania is nearly a decade shorter. The nation also remains below the average of its immediate neighbors in Central Europe and the rest of the Baltics, who have a life expectancy of 77 years. Further, Lithuania lands just above the world average of 72 years.
  2. Life expectancy in Lithuania has had a chaotic trend over the last 70 years. In the 1990s, economic fallout and loss of life caused by riots and chaos during the independence movement led to a low life expectancy rate of 68.5 years in 1994. Since then, however, life expectancy growth rates have more or less stabilized. Lithuanian life expectancy currently shows little sign that the upward trend will change for the worse.
  3. The population of Lithuania has decreased since independence. Having peaked at 3.7 million citizens in 1991, the population has steadily declined. Today, the country is inhabited by 2.79 million people, due to the country’s high death rate of 15 deaths per 1000 people, which results in a negative population growth rate of 1 percent. Furthermore, the emigration of the general populace towards Western Europe has only aided Lithuanian population loss.
  4. Life expectancy in Lithuania has increased at a slower rate than the rest of the world. Lithuanian life expectancy has increased by 8.35 percent from 1986 to 2017. Comparatively, the rest of the world’s life expectancy average has increased by 25.1 percent. Despite the human development index ranking of 34th in the world for development, it is possible high suicide rates in Lithuania substantially influence life expectancy. Unfortunately, the nation has the highest suicide rate in the world at an average of 26 suicides per 100,000 people.
  5. High Lithuanian suicide rates have gained national attention. Having such high suicide rates is clearly a major contributor to the nation’s lowered life expectancies and high death rate. Certain areas of the country are reaching rates of 71.9 deaths per 100,000 people. Subsequently, this has been the focus of intense national efforts. The government has been pursuing support through organizations such as the National Suicide Prevention Strategy; additionally, N.G.O. ‘s like the World Health Organization has supported Lithuania in suicide reduction efforts. As a result, suicide rates have reduced by nearly 15 percent between 2010 to 2016.
  6. Gender disparity is still relevant to suicide rates in Lithuania. On average, men typically live to be 69.2 years while women live to be 79.7 years. Social conditions play a role in this, as men are more heavily affected by the patriarchal norms that drive them into more dangerous work environments. As a result of the intense stress, the suicide rate in men is at heights far above the rate for women.
  7. Lithuanian suicide rates are the result of a complex series of social conditions. As one of the external driving factors behind lowered life expectancy in Lithuania, suicide rates are key as it is affecting all strata of society in the nation. There are various factors besides gender disparity that influences the inclination to commit suicide. One factor is extremely high alcohol consumption, where one in three men report high alcohol intake. Additionally, Lithuania has poor mental health facilities, creating an environment where it is difficult to seek adequate help. Finally, the legacy of historical suicide ideation plays a part in this figure as well.
  8. Biological causes are also a key part of life expectancy in Lithuania. The most considerable influence on life expectancy from biological causes is cardiovascular disease. Thirty-four percent of all deaths in 2017 were due to cardiovascular disease, which is linked to the high rates of obesity in the country. Above 60 percent of the adult population of Lithuania is overweight; obesity is directly linked to poor cardiovascular health and a higher risk of stroke, which is the second-highest cause of death in Lithuania.
  9. Unhealthy diets and low physical activity levels are the primary causes of obesity in Lithuania. The obesity problem affecting life expectancy in Lithuania is the result of a number of factors, crucial amongst them being low rates of physical exercise and unhealthy diets. Only 10.1 percent of the population reported committing to minimal exercise in 2010. Adjunctly, Lithuania’s diet surveys reveal that upwards of 13.2 percent of caloric intake comes from saturated fats; Medline Plus states that saturated fat intake should be less than 10 percent for a healthy diet. However, the government continues efforts to tackle obesity by encouraging exercise among adults and implementing food and drug protocols to reduce unhealthy food consumption.
  10. Health spending in the country is amongst the lowest in the European Union. Public health spending is currently at 6.5 percent of the GDP and remains the sixth-lowest in the European Union. At double the E.U. average, 32 percent of all health spending is privately funded, mostly coming from pharmaceutical expenditures. This means that citizens are forced to spend personal funds on acquiring medication that is often quite expensive. Although, spending has increased from 5.6 percent of GDP in 2005 to 6.5 percent in 2015. Despite this gradual increase, greater strides are necessary for the health system to match the rest of the E.U. and begin increasing overall life expectancy in Lithuania.

These 10 facts about life expectancy in Lithuania outline that despite its tremendous human development index and growing economy, the general health and overall lifespan of the nation’s population are quite poor. Further, the issue is not being addressed as effectively as it could be. Life expectancy in Lithuania could be improved by improved government programming and initiatives. Specifically, the implementation of effective mental health systems would greatly impact public health. Another solution would be to execute physical preventative care, such as exercise infrastructure, to increase public health.

Neil Singh
Photo: Pixabay

Poverty in Lithuania

Current political changes in Lithuania have brought many people hope over the current concerns of increases in immigration, income inequality and poverty in the country. The newly elected President, Gitanas Nauseda, has vowed to touch on these issues and tackle poverty in Lithuania. In 2018, around 650,000 people or 22.9 percent of Lithuanians lived below the at-risk-of-poverty threshold. The poverty line stood at 307 euros a month per capita or 644 euros a month for a family of two adults and two children under 14.

Furthermore, 17.3 percent of city residents earned disposable income below the at-risk-of-poverty threshold in 2018. This percentage stood at 34.4 percent for rural residents. The year 2019 has shown no improvements so far. In fact, the at-risk-of-poverty threshold increased by one percentage point making it the highest among the Baltic states.

Research has shown that inequality of income is hampering the development of society and the state. Although Lithuania has made remarkable progress during the independence period and is one of the fastest-growing economies in Europe, the income inequality in the country is currently one of the largest in the European Union. In 2016, the income of the richest 20 percent and poorest 20 percent in Lithuania varied seven times and has not improved.

The Main Challenges of Poverty

  1. Barriers to the Minimum Income: In Lithuania, people in need of social support often face a lot of bureaucratic barriers which greatly complicates their receipt assistance. Moreover, the prevalence of stereotypes and the stigmatization of beneficiaries causes them to refuse to apply for the minimum income. In 2017, about 2.7 percent of the country’s population received minimum income and this number is decreasing.
  2. Debts: Debts are also a primary cause of why many Lithuanians are living in poverty. According to the Ministry of Justice on October 2017, 292,612 people had debts that passed to bailiffs. Almost 10 percent of the total population of Lithuania is in debt. For a long time, the country could deduct up to 50 percent of a person’s minimum wage, and 70 percent of the amount exceeding the minimum wage. As a result, people experiencing poverty are less likely to seek legal employment, which helps deepen the poverty trap. Also, even if they did work, they would be unable to retain a sufficient amount of income to live on. In almost 60 percent of the cases, they owe debts to the state, while in 37 percent of cases, they owe to private companies and in three percent of the cases, they owe other individuals. As a result, Lithuanians who are in debt often fall into the social assistance system, work illegally or seek help from their relatives.
  3. Education: The report of the National Audit Office states that the results of the pupils in smaller schools, most often in rural areas, are lower in Lithuania as well as the European Union. Specifically, 30 percent of the audited schools had joint classes. Furthermore, around eight percent of children are unschooled, and Lithuania does not guarantee children’s right to education.
  4. Energy Poverty: In Lithuania, the law does not precisely define the concept of energy poverty. However, 29 percent of Lithuanian residents face difficulties in paying their heating bills. In 2016, 18 percent reported living in housing affected by dampness, draughts and leaks. These numbers are among the worst across the EU and show that many suffer with energy poverty in Lithuania.
  5. In-Work Poverty: Finally, the in-work poverty rate in Lithuania varies every year and is similar to the EU average. In 2017, 8.5 percent of persons were at risk of poverty. However, it is important to note that this indicator may be low partly because the average income of the employed is low. It is fairly easy to find a job for minimum wage in Lithuania, however, a minimum wage paying job in Lithuania is not enough to live.

The New President and His Plans

Gitanas Nauseda, an economist, was an independent candidate and won the second round of elections in Lithuania on May 26, 2019, with 65.8 percent of the vote. He took office on July 12, 2019, after President Dalia Grybauskaite’s second five-year term came to an end.

Many believe that newly elected President Gitanas Nauseda, a specialist in the field of banking and economic analysis, owes his victory to his emphasis on social issues, including tackling poverty. He also announced that he would increase the protective role of the welfare state and that the president’s office would supervise the introduction of controversial reforms to education and health care.

Although Lithuanian presidents do not directly craft economic policy, Nauseda plans to seek cross-party deals to bridge the gap between the rich and poor and decrease regional differences. “We will not have a welfare state if we care only about ourselves while social inequality increases,” stated Nauseda in parliament after taking the oath of office.

Another objective for the new president is to strengthen cooperation with the Baltic area. He has announced regular meetings with the leaders of the three Baltic states, as well as the coordination of regional cooperation at the highest level. Moreover, on foreign policy, Nauseda said he would seek deeper relations with both the EU and the U.S. and plans on strengthening Lithuanian defense.

Hope for the Future

While President Gitanas Nauseda has certainly made promising plans for the future of Lithuania, other associations, such as the European Anti-Poverty Network Lithuania (EAPN Lithuania), are also working to fight poverty in Lithuania. EAPN Lithuania emerged in 2006 and works to strengthen the institutional capacities of Lithuanian non-governmental organizations and encourage their cooperation with national and local governmental institutions to reduce poverty and social exclusion in Lithuania. The association comprises 42 anti-poverty organizations working to reduce social exclusion throughout Lithuania.

Furthermore, UNICEF’s country program in Lithuania has made progress in decreasing child poverty and increasing children’s rights. Lithuania declared 2004 the year of children’s health and since then increased attention and resources to children-focused national health services and programs. Moreover, UNICEF has helped strengthen the effectiveness of the National Public Health Service and lent technical support to the creation of a national database of young people’s health indicators.

– Grace Arnold
Photo: Flickr

Top 10 Facts about Living Conditions in Lithuania
Lithuania is a country of the rich history that dates as back as in the 1200s. It is home to lush forests, majestic glacial valleys and pristine rivers that flow from mainland Europe to the Baltic Sea. While the country still lags behind its fellow EU members economically, in the decade and a half since the country entered the European Union Lithuania has made a great stride in improving the quality of life for its citizens. These top 10 facts about living conditions in Lithuania will illustrate a place of progress and growth in the country and, most importantly, reasons for optimism.

Top 10 Facts about Living Conditions in Lithuania

  1. The future looks bright for the country. Surveys show that 63 percent of Lithuanians are optimistic about their own future, and 69 percent are confident about their children’s or grandchildren’s future. While most responders still found it difficult to make ends meet, they were more confident that they could do so than they were in years prior.
  2. Unemployment has decreased. In 2010, the effects of recession could be seen in the country as unemployment reached almost 18 percent. With improvements to the economy that number has almost been cut in half, as the unemployment rate was around 9.2 percent in 2017.
  3. More people feel in control of their lives in the country. While many people are still ambivalent, since 2011, the number of Lithuanians that see themselves as in-charge of their lives has grown. As of 2016, 28 percent strongly believe they “are free to decide how they live.”
  4. GDP per capita has almost doubled. Over the past 12 years, the country’s economy has grown significantly, from $7,800 to $14,380 and this has significantly shifted the standard of living in the country.
  5. The economy is shifting. Now growing towards a service economy, like many other developed countries, fewer and fewer people are earning a living in the agricultural and industrial sectors. With an increase in service work, more Lithuanians can choose to earn a living in a safer, more comfortable occupations.
  6. Inequality is increasing. Lithuania’s GINI Index, the extent to which the distribution of income within an economy deviates from a perfectly equal distribution, stands at 37,  somewhat unequal, the same as its 2004 rating. For many years, inequality was on the decline, bottoming out at 32.5. Unfortunately, recent trends show inequality on the rise “washing away” progress, a cycle that has happened before.
  7. Hunger is not a major concern. The Global Hunger Index (GHI) is a measure of hunger that charts undernourishment and waste around the world. Lithuania has a low level of hunger and is one of 15 countries with a GHI score of less than 5. While not prevalent, stunted growth (due to hunger) affects 6 percent of Lithuanian children.
  8. Anemia is still a problem. Characterized by fatigue, weakness and dizziness, this iron deficiency affects almost 25 percent of Lithuanian women, making it a top health issue for the country.
  9. Doctors are more available than ever. Around 20 years ago, the health care system was very poorly organized and largely misunderstood. With a weak referral system, most patients would immediately visit a specialist for routine and often unrelated problems. Recent reforms have improved patient understanding of their own needs and improved the role of general physicians in medicine, resulting in a 45 percent increase in doctor availability nationwide.
  10. Infant mortality is dropping. As part of the overall improvements in health care services, virtually all childbirths are attended to by a skilled physician. Since 2005, the infant mortality rate has dropped by 43 percent.

While Lithuania may never reach the same standard of living as more developed Western Europe countries, the country has many things to look forward to. These top 10 facts about living conditions in Lithuania show that people in the country are optimistic about their outlook and they have a lot of reasons to be.

– John Glade
Photo: Pixabay

Causes of Poverty in LithuaniaThough Lithuania has experienced marked progress since joining the European Union in the early 2000s, it still faces a number of challenges. In the aftermath of the financial crisis of 2008, many European countries experienced a spike in poverty. The rise in poverty in Lithuania was among the most significant, and, compared to other European nations, it has not necessarily recovered to its full capacity. Arguably the most significant causes of poverty in Lithuania are those factors that relate to inequality.

The vast inequality present throughout Lithuanian society is the result of a persistent lack of adequate social programs and fair incomes. In addition, many areas of Lithuania maintain a low standard of living, with poor access to social programs and services, quality education and non-agricultural employment opportunities. This is particularly true of rural areas that are largely disconnected from the state’s urban centers and therefore do not benefit from the prosperity of the Lithuanian government or local businesses. Improving infrastructure to connect rural areas to urban centers would supply additional opportunities to those residing outside the city rather than forcing them to pursue only opportunities in their immediate vicinity. To do so would eliminate one of the main causes of inequality and therefore chip away at the causes of poverty in Lithuania as well.

Within Europe, more equal societies typically have the lowest rates of poverty. These are the states that prioritize social protections and mandate an adequate income in order to support a decent living, whereas others neglect disadvantaged populations in favor of other kinds of spending. Thus, one of the main causes of poverty in Lithuania is also one of the main causes of inequality: lack of adequate government assistance and social protections. For example, Lithuanian pensioners often do not receive enough to live on and thus become dependent on their families, placing an additional burden on household incomes that are already low. A more equitable allocation of government spending and redistribution of government services would serve to provide poorer and more vulnerable populations the resources they need to rise out of poverty.

By national standards, nearly 30 percent of Lithuania’s population faces poverty and social exclusion, one of the highest rates among members of the European Union. A comparable portion of the population is considered at risk of poverty. These facts and the lack of opportunities and government assistance available to Lithuanians have driven Lithuanians out of the country in search of better employment, despite the growth of the Lithuanian economy. In 2016, 50,333 Lithuanians left the country, 5,800 more than in 2015 and 13,172 more than in 2014. Should this pattern persist, economic growth in Lithuania will eventually slow, resulting in higher rates of poverty and inequality. In addition, those leaving are likely to be skilled workers, which means that Lithuania could also soon face a brain-drain, deepening the economic downturn that could occur.

While the causes of poverty in Lithuania are relatively simple to identify, their implications for the future are complicated as the country moves forward. In order to stop the emigration that would inevitably worsen Lithuania’s poverty rate, there must be a shift toward more equitable social programs and an effort to improve the access of rural communities to urban centers, therefore exposing them to education and employment opportunities necessary to their success. Should these issues be addressed, it is likely that Lithuania’s recent prosperity will continue.

Alena Zafonte

Photo: Flickr

Human Rights in LithuaniaThe Republic of Lithuania is located west of Russia along the Baltic Sea. 3.3 million people live in this 65,300 square km country. Historic changes have taken place in just one generation.

Lithuania had been occupied by Russia since 1940, but regained its independence in 1991 following the collapse of the Soviet Union. Thirteen years later, in 2004, Lithuania joined NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organization) and the EU (European Union).

This country has seen a lot of political change in the past 25 years. A new constitution in 1992 presented a new form of government for Lithuania, including a presidency.

However, despite advancements, there are still problems with human rights in Lithuania. The government and people of this Baltic country are working hard to improve human rights, but there are still four notable areas of concern.

1. Children’s welfare
The 2016 Human Rights Report on Lithuania stated that “despite a multi-year effort to combat violence against children, many problems continued.” The Council of Europe Commissioner of Human Services, Nils Muižnieks, plans on reducing child abuse and harm in Lithuania by “implementing the law banning all forms of violence against children through a coordinated strategy and effective and independent monitoring.”

One area that can be improved is the country’s child hotline. It was reported that in the first eight months of 2015, the hotline received over 421,000 calls but was only able to respond to 192. This lack of resources and funding is a serious issue that results in injuries to and sometimes deaths of children.

Another issue that needs to be addressed is the number of institutionalized and displaced children in Lithuania. There are close to 100 orphanages in the country, which house about 4,000 orphans as of 2015. It is an important goal for Lithuanian government officials and NGOs to improve the orphanage system, because many institutionalized children’s issues stem from their time without a family in these temporary homes.

2. Domestic violence
According to the 2016 Human Rights report, in Lithuania, “rape and domestic violence are criminal offenses” and are dealt with according to the degree of harm done to the victim.

Domestic violence is one of the biggest human rights issues in Lithuania. Although there have been efforts to stop it, violence still continues. “In the first eight months of the year, police received 33,453 domestic violence calls and started 6,718 pretrial investigations, including 24 for murder.”

Compared to the United States’ 20,000 calls a day for rape or domestic violence, Lithuania’s numbers may not seem substantial. However, when people are being harmed, any number is significant and needs to be addressed.

3. Discrimination against minorities
Human rights in Lithuania in regard to discrimination against minorities are a very prevalent issue. Whether it is a mentally disabled person or a Jewish person, discrimination occurs against various minority groups in Lithuania.

People with disabilities are among the groups that face the worst discrimination in Lithuania. Some rights that have been known to be unequal for disabled people include “inaccessibility, forced hospitalization, human rights violations in closed institutions and psychiatric wards, restrictions on the right to vote and an inadequate mental health system, which remained among the least reformed areas in the health sector.”

Jews also have a history of discrimination in Lithuania. Recent research has shown that between January and April of 2016, 90 Jewish people who applied for passports were rejected, compared to only 20 non-Jewish applicants rejected.

However, like most human rights issues in Lithuania, the government is working to improve the situation. About $14.3 million was put aside between 2013 and 2019 to be spent by the Department of Affairs of the Disabled.

4. Inhumane treatment of prisoners
Conditions in some prisons and detention facilities remain sub-standard. There have been credible allegations of inadequate access to hygiene products, poor sanitary conditions such as filthy blankets and mattresses, poor food and inferior medical care.

Some improvements have been made, though. “Between January and September, the government spent approximately 364,000 euros ($400,000) on the renovation of seven prison facilities.” With more aid and support, these prisons and detention centers can become healthy and safe places.

Sydney Missigman

Photo: Flickr

Water Quality in LithuaniaLithuania is a small European country located in the south of the Baltic States. Formerly a member of the Soviet Bloc, it has quickly modernized since the last Russian troops withdrew in 1993. The economy was restructured from communism to capitalism and has spent the past 25 years becoming a modern state in every sense. One of the keys to the rapid development of the country has been the water quality in Lithuania, which has been a focus of the government and society in the years since it began rebuilding.

Water quality in Lithuania is monitored by three distinct sectors of government. The Ministry of Health controls and legislates all indoor water, including that used for drinking and bathing. This is supplemented by the State Food and Veterinary Service, which specifically monitors and controls drinking water. The water supply, including groundwater resources and wastewater treatment, is legislated and focused upon by the Ministry of Environment.

This three-pronged approach to water governance has worked remarkably well over the course of Lithuania’s history. From 2003 to 2012, the number of cubic meters of water treated up to established sanitation norms doubled from 85 million cubic meters to 170 million cubic meters, while water treated either ineffectively or not at all has dropped from nearly 70 million cubic meters to less than five over the same period.

Though the standard of water quality in Lithuania is already high, the country has passed legislation to continue raising it. From 2016 to 2021, the Lithuanian government has committed to establishing systems for flood monitoring and management in four of their most important river basins. The government will also comply with the Baltic Sea Action Plan to keep the Baltic Sea environmentally sound by 2020 by reducing pollutants and conserving the biodiversity of the Lithuanian coast.

The commitment to water quality in Lithuania has contributed significantly to the country’s rapid economic maturation and looks to continue to do so. With a constant eye to the future, the three sectors of government responsible for keeping the water supply safe and viable have reduced disposed waste water and increased its recycling since 2012, and the economy has stayed strong, weathering storms of uncertainty throughout Europe. The Lithuanian government’s dedication to water quality is one to be both admired and emulated, as it has led to higher quality of life for the country’s people.

Connor S. Keowen

Photo: Flickr

Hunger in Lithuania
Many people envision Lithuania as a country caught in the past, still dotted with old fashioned villages, devoid of advanced technology and full of poor and starving people leftover from multiple occupations during the World Wars and the Cold War. Yet these stereotypes and initial assumptions are sorely misleading. As a renewed independent nation fewer than 30 years old, Lithuania has quickly established a growing economy. Though hunger is a minimal problem compared to many other issues in Lithuania, it is still part of a larger cycle of poverty, so it is important to continue decreasing hunger in Lithuania and other developing countries.

Though about 22% of Lithuania’s population lives below the poverty line, very few live in extreme poverty. Since poverty is relatively low, most people can obtain the necessary resources to survive. Hunger in Lithuania greatly decreased since independence. The country’s Global Hunger Index score dropped from 9.4 in 1995 to below 5 in 2015. This Index is designed to measure global hunger and the changes in hunger rates from year to year in developing countries. In 2015, Lithuania was one of only 13 developing countries to have a score of less than 5.

Other statistics demonstrate the success of decreasing hunger in Lithuania as well. Between 1994 and 1996, 4.6% of the population was undernourished compared to only 1.4% between 2014 and 2016. Child wasting (children suffering from low weight for their height) and child stunting (children at a low height for their age) are both indications of chronic malnutrition, and they each decreased by more than half from 1995 to 2015.

These improvements are important to celebrate, but it is also important to address those who are part of the small percentage still affected by malnutrition and hunger in Lithuania. For those who are hungry, the good news is that the depth of hunger in Lithuania is low, sitting at an average of 120 calories. This means that those who are hungry and undernourished have 120 fewer calories per day than their body needs to maintain body weight and properly perform activities.

The depth of hunger is similar in many developed countries, such as South Korea and Finland, both at 130, or Germany at 110. The comparable depths of hunger indicate that the intensity of food deprivation is small and on a similar level as countries with many more resources. However, the knowledge that hunger in Lithuania is similar to hunger in Germany is little comfort to those who go about their days dealing with rumbling bellies and the unpleasant effects of too little food.

In Lithuania, and other countries as well, one of the key methods to reduce the number of hungry people is to deal with poverty as a whole. Improving the economy, creating more job opportunities, and increasing job pay and equality are all important steps to continue to fight hunger in Lithuania. The unemployment rate is relatively low at 7.9%, comparable to Canada’s rate of 7.1%, but continuing to expand the economy and create new jobs can help decrease Lithuania’s poverty, and in doing so, further shrink hunger rates.

Lithuania is already ranked number 15  on the Forbes list of best countries for business, and many prospective businesses set their sights on Lithuania due to the country’s existing business reputation, its strategic location and the high rates of citizens’ talent and education. This means that the economy will likely grow and increase job opportunities, without a drastic change. The growing economy will also allow the minimum wage to increase, and providing paid leave and pay equity will also help lessen poverty. These are only a few ways that Lithuania can reduce poverty, and less poverty will mean that even fewer people in Lithuania will go hungry.

Rachael Lind

Photo: Flickr


Since August 2015, more than one million refugees have entered the EU, many of them fleeing conflicts in Syria, Afghanistan, and Iraq. Under block rules, refugees faced relocation to Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia. As these countries are among the poorest in the European Union, refugees relocated to Lithuania are fleeing elsewhere out of fear of starvation. Here are ten facts about refugees in Lithuania.

10 Facts About Refugees in Lithuania

  1. Through the EU relocation plan, refugees from Syria, Afghanistan, and Iraq have been sent to live in Lithuania, a small country on the Baltic Sea, north of Poland.
  2. While Lithuania is home to less than three million people, it has a quota of about 1,100 refugees to take in within two years. So far, there have been around 90 refugees sent there. Lithuania’s interior minister Tomas Zilinskas noted that even the small number of accepted refugees in Lithuania faced opposition by half of the country’s citizens.
  3. As benefits in Lithuania are already extremely limited, a refugee family of four receives €450 a month for half a year, after which the payment halves.
  4. A whopping 72 out of 90 of those granted refugee status in Lithuania have left. Many refugees claim living in a refugee center somewhere else is better than life in the Baltic States. As Mohamed Kamel Haj Ali, a refugee sent to Lithuania said: “The ones who left for Germany said they left Syria out of fear of death from bombs, but here they feared they would die from hunger.”
  5. EU rules dictate that refugees are to be forbidden from work or to claim refuge in other member states. Some destroy their identification documents before leaving Lithuania, hoping to claim asylum in richer countries amidst Western Europe.
  6. Refugees in Lithuania struggle to find work due to an insufficient amount of jobs available. As NPR’s Corey Flintoff states, “Lithuania cannot supply enough jobs for its own citizens. Hundreds of thousands of them have had to find work in other countries. Still, Lithuania’s current government considers it an obligation to do its part to help solve the migrant crisis among its fellow EU members.”
  7. After the discovery of a new route through Lithuania’s eastern border, a gateway into Western Europe allows refugees in to enter the country. Renatas Pozela, acting commander of the Lithuanian State Border Guard Service, states, “We are also seeing constant attempts to open new corridors [to Europe], mostly by Syrian and Iraqi refugees who are trying to reach Scandinavian countries.”
  8. While Lithuania joined the EU in 2004, its population has shrunk 12 percent to 2.9 million people over the past decade, as refugees and citizens alike flee in search of higher wages and better job availability.
  9. As Lithuania continues to depopulate, refugees help to sustain local businesses, such as a barber shop operated by Vilius Leveris.  Leveris finds most new staff for his barber shop in the refugee hostel. Since Leveris opened his business four years ago, he has taken on 12 employees from Turkey, Libya, Syria, Morocco and Colombia. Leveris states, “I couldn’t find anyone here. Even getting a wet shave is a completely new thing… Now, if a refugee who was a barber at home arrives in Lithuania, the refugee center calls me at once.”
  10. Ilmars Latkovskis, head of the Latvian parliament’s Citizenship, Migration, and Social Cohesion Committee, said to make staying in Lithuania feasible for refugees, it was necessary to have benefits increased “to a level which would be very unpleasant for our population, which is not that well-off.”

These were ten facts about refugees in Lithuania. It is evident from the significant number of refugees in Lithuania fleeing the country, as well as the other neighboring Baltic nations, many areas within the European Union need assistance in their efforts to aid refugees worldwide.

Kendra Richardson

Photo: Flickr

5 Facts About Top Diseases in Lithuania
Lithuania is a fairly small European country with a population of about 2.8 million as of 2016. Despite its size, Lithuania still subject to several major infectious diseases. Since its 2008 financial crisis, Lithuania has recovered significantly and has become one of the fastest growing economies in the European Union. However, despite such impressive development in recent years, finding adequate treatments and solutions to the top diseases in Lithuania remains a challenge.

What are the top diseases in Lithuania?

  1. Tick-borne encephalitis (TBE) is a vector-borne disease involving the central nervous system, which is acquired through the bite of an infected arthropod. The disease often manifests as meningitis, encephalitis or meningoencephalitis.
  2. Meningococcal meningitis is a bacterial disease causing an inflammation of the lining of the brain and spinal cord. Bacteria are transmitted from person to person by respiratory droplets and close contact from crowded living conditions.
  3. According to the Global Burden of Disease Study 2010 (GBD 2010), ischemic heart disease, cerebrovascular disease and self-harm were the highest ranking causes of premature death in Lithuania in terms of the number of years of life lost (YLLs).
  4. The risk factors that account for top diseases in Lithuania are dietary risks, high blood pressure and alcohol use. The leading risk factors for children under five and adults aged 15-49 years were iron deficiencies and alcohol use in 2010.
  5. In a 2014 Country Profile conducted by the World Health Organization (WHO) on noncommunicable diseases, proportional mortality (percent of total deaths, all ages, both sexes) is divided as follows:
    – 54 percent cardiovascular diseases;
    – 20 percent cancers;
    – 12 percent other NCDs;
    – Eight percent injuries;
    – Three percent communicable, maternal, perinatal and nutritional conditions;
    – Two percent chronic respiratory diseases;
    – One percent diabetes.

Recognizing and understanding the state of people and society in Lithuania in regards to their health and well-being provides key insight into public health successes, as well as areas where additional assistance and improved conditions and resources are needed.

Mikaela Frigillana

Photo: Flickr

Brain Drain
Brain drain is a rampant epidemic detrimentally impacting developing nations across the earth. As a result, businesses and political figures are making fantastic efforts to reverse brain drains on both a national and global level.

What is Brain Drain and Why is it Happening?

According to Merriam-Webster, brain drain is defined as, “a situation in which many educated or professional people leave a particular place or profession and move to another one that gives them better pay or living conditions.”

The term brain drain was first coined around the 1960s when Great Britain experienced a high percentage of British scientists and intellectuals leaving the country to find better careers in the U.S.

Since then, many other countries such as Greece, Lithuania and a number of African nations have experienced brain drain at an alarming rate.

The Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine reports that brain drain stems from a wide range of economic, social and political conditions. Most of these conditions are observed in developing countries where the careers of citizens are stifled from issues such as poverty, political instability and lack of technology.

These conditions make developed countries more attractive to those with a degree or a specialized skill. Countries such as the U.S., Canada and the U.K. have been gaining a significant amount of doctors and nurses from abroad.

Migration Abroad

In 2006, the U.S. received roughly 213,331 doctors and 99,456 nurses from abroad. Research from the WHO estimated that brain drain resulted in a global shortage of 4.3 million healthcare workers. Countries experiencing brain drain lose educated working-class employees by anywhere from thousands to hundreds of thousands of workers.

In just 2011 alone, Lithuania reported 54,000 migrating to find work in the U.K. The continent of Africa loses one in nine university graduates to Western nations. In addition, Greece estimated that 160,000 to 180,000 college graduates have left the country for better opportunities.

Though developed countries can benefit from receiving these educated migrants, the sheer amount of incoming, educated people can overwhelmingly disadvantage various sectors within developing countries.

However, there is hope to reverse brain drain as seen from the efforts of nations such as Lithuania, the UAE and many African countries.

Lithuania

Business leaders and government officials in Lithuania are combating brain drain through a series of university mergers. University mergers are when multiple universities unify in order to foster stronger university brands. The plan is that these university mergers will attract current citizens and international students to study in Lithuania.

Marius Skuodis, a former citizen of Lithuania, has returned to his country because of the new opportunities provided within the university mergers. He plans on pursuing his PhD at Vilnius University, despite having to accept a lower salary.

Skuodis is quoted saying that, “Lithuania offered me career opportunities I could not expect in the UK.”

UAE

The UAE has also made gallant strides in turning brain drain into a brain gain. The UAE is a nation that suffered from brain drain as well as high levels of violence for numerous years.

Recently, businesses have made tremendous efforts in the UAE to improve the quality of life for workers and residents. These efforts have turned the UAE into a thriving nation with one of the highest standards of living for citizens in the world.

Africa

In Africa, reports indicate that brain drain has slowed substantially within the continent. A study in 2014 from South Africa’s Adcorp, stated that 359,000 highly skilled South African workers had returned to work in their countries of origin.

Economists have noted that this accomplishment was possible due to the policies that governments and businesses have put in place in order to encourage workers to come back home.

Finding a solution to reducing brain drain is no easy feat, as it requires both businesses and governments to coincide with one another to tackle the issue at hand. Businesses and corporate leaders need to implement solutions to create more job opportunities with quality benefits for those with desired skills.

Governments need to strive for policy changes that encourage workers to return to their countries. However, if governments and businesses can work together to make substantial legislation changes, many nations may follow suit and reverse their brain drain into a brain gain.

Shannon Warren

Photo: Flickr