Macedonia, officially called The Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia by the U.N., has a population of 2.1 million. The life expectancy for men is 73 years and the life expectancy for women is 77 years. The “healthy life expectancy” in Macedonia, the number of years a person can expect to live in good health, is only 63 years. This significantly lower age is the result of common diseases in Macedonia.
The most common causes of death in Macedonia are circulatory diseases and cancer. Circulatory diseases, specifically cerebrovascular diseases and ischemic heart disease, are responsible for more than half the deaths in Macedonia, with a mortality rate of 57.2 percent. Cancer is the second most common cause of death, with a much lower mortality rate of 19.7 percent.
An important trend to notice regarding common diseases in Macedonia is that the deadliest diseases are noncommunicable. Injuries and communicable diseases also contribute to death rates, but not nearly as many deaths as noncommunicable diseases.
Public health officials in Macedonia have put emphasis on addressing circulatory diseases in Macedonia, as they have a high mortality and disability rate.
In 2007, the Ministry of Health in Macedonia adopted an extensive health strategy that outlined several plans for improving the healthcare system in Macedonia by 2020. Addressing noncommunicable diseases in Macedonia will require efforts on behalf of the government, non-governmental institutions, healthcare institutions and the citizens of Macedonia.
The strategy for reducing the morbidity, disability and premature mortality attributed to circulatory diseases will address primary, secondary and tertiary prevention. Primary prevention will include promoting healthy lifestyles that include regular exercise, proper nutrition and smoking reduction. Secondary prevention efforts include earlier detection for circulatory diseases. Tertiary prevention includes proper care and rehabilitation for patients facing these diseases.
On World Heart Day (September 29) 2013, Shaban Mehmeti, the Director of the Institute of Public Health of Macedonia, emphasized the importance of reducing the risk for cardiovascular diseases. Mehmeti pointed out that lifestyle changes can help prevent common risk factors for cardiovascular diseases such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, high blood sugar, being overweight and physical inactivity. Reducing the incidence of cardiovascular diseases will reduce healthcare costs and improve the quality of life in Macedonia.
Macedonia’s cross-sectoral approach to addressing circulatory diseases along with the multiple levels of prevention will hopefully reduce the incidence of circulatory diseases and will also serve as a framework for addressing other common diseases in Macedonia.
– Christiana Lano