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.


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.”


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.


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

7 Facts: The Focus on Slowing Poverty In Lithuania
Lithuania is one of the three European Baltic States and also a new addition to the Eurozone. While the country faces a serious problem with rural poverty, recent indicators and initiatives suggest that Lithuania is a country on the rise.

  1. Lithuania is a high-income country. Lithuania is considered a high-income country by the World Bank. Its GNI per capita, total income claimed by residents divided by the population, is about $15,000 per year. This is significantly higher than that of Russia ($11000) but less than half of the average in the EU which stands at $34000.
  2. Very few people in Lithuania are desperately poor. Extreme or desperate poverty isn’t common in Lithuania, less than one percent of the population lives on less than one dollar a day.
  3. Poverty in Lithuania is widespread but shallow. While very few Lithuanians are extremely poor, many live in moderate poverty. Lithuania’s poverty line is set at LTL 811 ($265), and around 20 percent of the population lives below this measure.
  4. Poverty is centered in rural areas. One-third of the population live in rural areas, with half of the population employed in agriculture.
  5. Lithuania has a transitioning economy. In 2015, it became the 19th economy to use the euro. The economy of Lithuania seems to be shifting towards a knowledge-based one, as information and communication technologies are its fastest-growing sectors. However, after being hit incredibly hard by the recession in 2008, the growth of the economy has slowed in recent years.
  6. Lithuania has comparatively low unemployment and inequality levels. Despite the relatively high poverty rate in Lithuania, other development indicators like unemployment and income inequality are somewhat low. Unemployment stands at 8 percent, which is lower than in France or Italy, and the World Bank’s income inequality indicator, the GINI index, suggests that Lithuania has higher income equality than the U.S., and is comparable to that of Canada.

The EU plans to invest heavily over the next few years. The EU plans to invest $7 billion in aid to Lithuania by 2020, with the main focus on infrastructure. Other major points of investment are in renewable energy and quality employment. With continuing economic growth and help from the EU, poverty numbers may be driven down in the coming years.

John English

Photo: Flickr

How the Government of Lithuania is Bettering the Lives of its PoorWhen one thinks of poverty-stricken countries, the first one that comes to mind is not Lithuania. The small Baltic nation, however, has been dealing with serious poverty problems since it became independent in the early 1990s. Lithuania was, in fact, the first republic to break away from the USSR in 1990. In 2009, the economy took a turn for the worse. GDP dropped 15%, interrupting almost two decades of steady fiscal growth. Nonetheless, the recession did not fatally injure the Lithuanian economy. The resilient nation recovered quickly, enlisting the investment of foreign interests in Lithuanian enterprises while capitalizing on the strength of trade relations with Russia, Latvia, and Germany, among other countries.

Lithuania’s seemingly instantaneous recovery from the recession is amazing, especially considering the extremity of the economic downturn in the Baltic states. Her ability to exploit chief exports such as textiles, plastics, and heavy machinery has given the country the diversified type of income that facilitates longterm budgetary growth. What truly sets Lithuania apart though is the shocking rise in the minimum wage that took place last year. In 2012, the monthly minimum wage was raised almost 25% from around 850 litai ($850 US dollars) in January to 1000 litai ($372 US dollars) in December. This has significantly raised the status of the poor in Lithuania, where a measly 4% of the population is now living below the poverty line. Prior to 2009, a little over 20% of Lithuanians were on or below the poverty line, unable to meet basic daily needs.

This change illustrates the way in which a government, faced with insurmountable challenges, can institute economic policies that positively impact the well-being of the working poor. When compared to its neighbor Latvia, where the monthly salary from a minimum wage job does not fulfill minimum subsistence level requirements, Lithuania is doing significantly better. Lithuania did not allow the economic crisis to distract from the problem of the minimum wage, implementing sound laws to raise the status of the poor. In the wake of the global recession, other Baltic countries should follow the example of Lithuania and raise the minimum wage. The poor will be much better off for it.

– Josh Forgét

Sources: The Baltic Course, Bloomberg, CIA World Factbook
Photo: Flickr