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