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


Though the European refugee crisis has largely faded from the international media’s spotlight, thousands of asylum-seekers continue to enter Europe by any means possible with the hopes of starting a new life. In the face of this ongoing humanitarian crisis, the Hungarian grassroots organization Migration Aid has harnessed the power of social media as a means of delivering aid and guidance to thousands of refugees.

Migration Aid was founded in June 2015, at the height of the European refugee crisis, by a handful of concerned citizens in Budapest that desired to help people in Hungary. The organization originated as a closed group on Facebook, which was utilized as a virtual planning board for orchestrating aid delivery, which included food and supplies distribution. The organization also consisted of various specialty groups with coordinators assigned to handle legal matters, storage, logistics and any other issues. Migration Aid set up centers in the railway stations of Budapest and the surrounding area and quickly grew to over 600 volunteers.

Two years have elapsed since the group’s inception, during which time Migration Aid has helped feed, clothe and provide direction to thousands of refugees, but the situation faced by asylum-seekers in Hungary remains extremely tenuous. Hungary’s geographic location has forced the country into a major role in the crisis, as it is a popular by-way for migrants hoping to settle further afield from the Middle East in Northern and Western Europe. Between January and August of 2017, 2,491 asylum applications were registered in Hungary alone.

The European Union has endeavored to establish a comprehensive and effective means of responding to what has become the largest global displacement crisis since World War II. In September 2015, the European Commission announced a minimum quota of refugees that each EU member country would be expected to host, with the intention of fairly distributing the burden of providing for the record numbers of migrants streaming into the continent. It was also in September 2015 that Hungary closed its borders to refugees, and began strictly limiting their movement throughout the country.

Furthermore, Hungarian officials have resisted compliance with the quotas and policies made obligatory for all members of the EU. In March 2017, the Hungarian government implemented a law requiring that all refugees whose asylum applications were pending be housed in detention centers. When it was discovered that the housing units available at these detention centers were comprised of shipping containers and that refugees were being forced to pay for their stay, the United Nations refugee agency urged the E.U. to stop sending asylum seekers to Hungary, declaring this mandatory detention a violation of international law that guarantees people access to asylum.

Additionally, Viktor Mihály Orbán, a Hungarian politician, petitioned the European Commission President to exempt Hungary from the migrant relocation quotas, a request which was denied and earned the Hungarian government a lawsuit for failure to comply.

In the face of the conditions now being imposed on refugees, Migration Aid has developed new strategies to help people in Hungary. Recognizing the need for information dissemination pertaining to the new laws and regulations, the organization developed a new application named InfoAid, which seeks to provide information to asylum-seekers in their native language. According to Migration Aid’s website, the InfoAid app seeks to provide the following types of information:

  • what rules apply to them
  • where they can receive care
  • what is going on in transport
  • where there is safe drinking water in Hungary
  • where and how they should buy train tickets
  • where they can receive medical care
  • how they should collect the waste they generate
  • where, when and why they have to register and what exactly it involves

The InfoAid app supplies information in English, Arabic, Urdu and Farsi. Migration Aid is currently seeking the help of volunteer translators so that they can keep up with the need for translated information, as well as expand their offerings to include Greek and Pashto.

Thanks to internet technology, anyone around the world with relevant language skills wondering how to help people in Hungary can act as an invaluable source of aid by donating their time and skills. More information about volunteering can be found on Migration Aid’s official website, or on the Facebook page.

For individuals desirous of contributing but who lack the language skills required to volunteer, Migration Aid also accepts monetary donations, which are fundamental to the organization’s ability to help people in Hungary. Now more than ever, the innovative and progressive efforts that this organization continues to make on behalf of refugees in Hungary is a tremendous source of hope and comfort to many.

Savannah Bequeaith

Photo: Flickr

Causes of Poverty in Hungary

The latest official statistics that can be found regarding poverty in Hungary are from 2015 by the Hungarian Central Statistical Office (KSH). According to their definition of the poverty line, 35 percent of the Hungarian population were living below the poverty line in 2015. More recent statistics have not been released due to a controversy over the KSH’s definition of poverty. However, by the United Nations’ standards, 46.6 percent of Hungarians in 2014 were impoverished, living on less than $300 a month.

There are three leading causes of poverty in Hungary that persist today:

  1. The price of real estate in Hungary is high and still rising, considering the devaluation of Hungarian currency. After Sweden, Hungary has the second-fastest rising real estate prices. The average Hungarian family spends $465 a month on rent and utilities alone, leaving little remaining for other bills and necessary items. Also, rent is only affordable for the average family in cities where it is near impossible to find work. Due to the high price of real estate, the average family with two children can hardly save $30 a month.
  2. Unemployment in Hungary remains a problem, though the number of unemployed Hungarians is seemingly decreasing. The current unemployment rate in Hungary is 9.3 percent, which is an improvement compared to earlier years. However, this rate does not take into account the approximately 300,000 people who are employed but receive no employment benefits. This is due to the Hungarian Work Plan that was launched in 2011, which forces the unemployed into employment programs. These employment programs pay a maximum of $200 a month, preventing any forward mobility. Keeping in mind that Hungary ranks eighth internationally regarding work hours, the employed and unemployed alike are both on the verge of poverty.
  3. Private debt is also largely responsible for poverty in Hungary. The government of Hungary offers $39,000 in loans to families with children – which many families accept but cannot afford to pay back. There are many Hungarian families that end up in a circle of debt, in which they accumulate more and more debt they cannot afford to pay off. The rapid devaluation of Hungarian currency adds to this cycle as it has caused private debt to dramatically increase.

The Takeaway

Addressing these causes of poverty in Hungary is necessary in order to help impoverished Hungarians. Approaching these problems effectively will take reforms from the Hungarian government as well as outside assistance. The programs currently being enacted have had major effects on reducing the rates of poverty in Hungary.  Thus, these efforts should continued to be pursued by the Hungarian government and the NGOs enacting them.

Haley Hurtt

Photo: Flickr

Human Rights in HungaryHungary is going through a drastic transformation. The nation was deeply shaken by the 2008 financial crisis. In 2010, the nation responded by electing the Fidesz party into power. With the support of the Christian Democratic People’s Party, Fidesz built a conservative coalition with the ability to draft a new constitution. This constitution was enacted in 2011 and has given Fidesz significant power. Recently, Prime Minister Viktor Orban announced plans to transform Hungary into an illiberal democracy. Here are nine important facts about human rights in Hungary during this time of dramatic change.

Hungary continues to hold free elections. However, constitutional changes have unfairly benefited Fidesz. These changes include reducing the number of legislators, gerrymandering districts and allowing Hungarian-speaking residents in neighboring territories to vote. These “Hungarians abroad” overwhelmingly voted in favor of Fidesz.

The Hungarian Constitution protects freedom of speech and the press, but recent changes have undermined the freedom of the press. Media outlets are required to register with the government for licenses that can be revoked if the outlet violates content policy through actions like inciting hatred or violating human dignity. Recently, a close ally of Prime Minister Orban bought out and disbanded Hungary’s leading political newspaper after it reported on senior government officials mishandling funds.

Hungary’s constitution protects religious freedom, but the government has attempted to limit this freedom. In 2012, the Hungarian National Assembly passed the Church Act, forcing religious institutions to apply to the National Assembly for tax benefits guaranteed to accepted churches. This was ruled unconstitutional by the Constitutional Court, but the National Assembly tried and failed to pass a revised version in 2015.

This April, the Hungarian government furthered Orban’s crusade against liberalism by targeting academic freedom. The National Assembly passed a law intended to shut down Central European University, which was founded by American billionaire George Soros. Human rights organizations believe this was done to stifle criticism of Fidesz-backed reforms.
The Hungarian government has become increasingly hostile to human rights organizations and has put stringent registration requirements on nongovernmental organizations (NGOs). Several NGOs that were critical of the government faced unlawful police raids that went unpunished. Many are worried that these actions exemplify a growing disregard for human rights in Hungary.

In 2016, Hungary passed a constitutional amendment that allows the government to declare a state of emergency in the event of a terror threat. The grounds for a terror threat are broad and poorly defined. In a state of emergency, the government has the power to restrict movement, freeze assets, ban public gatherings and fight terrorism without oversight from the National Assembly or the judiciary. After 15 days, the National Assembly can vote to increase the powers of the state.

Hungary has taken on a strong anti-immigration stance that breaks with European policy. Some notably harsh measures include detaining asylum-seekers for months in shipping containers, scaling back resources for refugees granted asylum and allowing the military to restrict the civil liberties of refugees and use “coercive weapons.” Refugees that are detained and hunted down by the military are often subjected to brutality.

The Roma are Hungary’s largest ethnic minority and are widely discriminated against. Though the government has attempted to aid the Romani people, Roma remain disproportionately impoverished and are often segregated from Hungarian schools and placed in schools for the mentally disabled.

Discrimination is becoming an even greater concern with the rise of Jobbik, Hungary’s growing right-nationalist party. Jobbik made large gains in the 2011 and 2014 elections and has a history of anti-Roma, anti-semitic and ethnic nationalist rhetoric. Some of this rhetoric has been disturbingly adopted by Orban to advance his anti-migrant agenda. Though party leaders of Jobbik claim to have toned down their rhetoric, the party’s advancement could lead to a further decline in human rights in Hungary.

Though Hungary is continuing to follow an anti-democratic trend, the situation is not hopeless. For a long time, the E.U. has turned a blind eye to Hungary’s illiberal reforms. Increased pressure from the multistate organization could motivate Hungarian leaders to follow the E.U.’s standards for human rights. In addition, NGOs are essential to protecting human rights in Hungary. Though they have become the target of government scrutiny, they retain partial freedoms to work within Hungary and encourage positive reform.

Carson Hughes

Photo: Flickr

Poverty in Hungary
Hungary is a nation of 10 million people in Central Europe. Even though the country has a very high standard of living, many of its people live in poverty. Here are 10 facts about poverty in Hungary:

  1. According to a study by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), the portion of Hungarian children living in relative poverty has risen from seven percent in 2007 to 17% in 2012. As housing prices have increased, especially outside of cities, it has become increasingly difficult for families to find affordable housing.
  2. Fewer people live in poverty in Hungary than the EU average. While the average number of people living below the poverty line in the EU is 17%, this number in Hungary is 14.6%.
  3. Many young people feel like they have no future in the country. According to a report by the Hungarian Central Statistical Office, about half of people between the ages of 19 and 30 would like to work abroad.
  4. As housing prices have soared, more families are accumulating debt. Housing prices have increased by an average of 31% over the past three years. The only European country with quicker rising real estate prices is Sweden.
  5. Almost half of Hungarians–44%–can not afford basic resources. This compares with an average of 19% across the EU.
  6. The highest rates of poverty in Hungary are in the northeastern part of the country. The regions of Ezak-Magyarorzag and Eszak-Alfold have poverty rates above the EU average. The causes of this range from inadequate infrastructure to little economic activity to an insufficiently skilled workforce.
  7. For every 1,000 Hungarian children, 6.1 die before their fifth birthday, according to a report by the Save the Children Foundation. This is above the EU average as well as the rates in countries such as Libya, Bulgaria, Cuba and Macedonia. Since malnutrition is contributing significantly to this abnormally high statistic and hunger is a taboo subject in Hungary, the Save the Children Foundation has started an initiative to provide vitamins, baby formula and medicine to children and expecting mothers.
  8. Recently, more children have been taken from their families due to poverty. The government places children in orphanages and forbids them from returning home to see their parents.
  9. Hungarian Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto believes that digitalization may be the key to reducing poverty. Szijjarto said in a U.N. address that Hungary wants to be a hub for digital innovation. The government plans to reduce the tax rate on internet services and bring broadband with speeds of 30Mbps to all Hungarians by 2018.
  10. The unemployment rate in Hungary was only 4.5% as of the fourth quarter of 2016. This is better than the OECD average and similar to the rate in the U.S.

While Hungarians face several poverty-related issues, from rising housing prices to malnourished children, there is reason to be hopeful as the country’s government and organizations like Feed the Children are aware of the situation and have ideas to solve the problem of poverty in Hungary.

Brock Hall

Photo: Flickr

Water Quality in Hungary
Hungary is a landlocked country located in the central Danube Basin. It is divided into The Great Plains, the Transdanube and the Northern Hills areas. Hungary is a fairly small country but is known for great biodiversity. This biodiversity is threatened by some of Hungary’s most serious problems: air and water pollution. Pollution disrupts the water quality in Hungary, especially the Danube River, quite significantly. These pollutants come from industrial and large-scale agriculture.

A recent reservoir failure flooded many towns in Hungary with red toxic mud. In October 2016, a dam holding waste products such as arsenic and mercury collapsed. It was said to have released about 184 million gallons of this red mud. The toxic mud negatively impacted the water quality in Hungary, polluting the Danube even further.

Another danger to the water quality in Hungary is caused by human alterations to the Danube for the purpose of navigation. Intentions to deepen the dam for easier boat passage have changed the way the traditional floodplain landscape and water flows into the deltas. This not only affects the water quality but also endangers the wildlife and habitats near those areas. Scientists worry that the improper mining of these dams could lead to something even worse than the toxic red mud scare. They say that, without the correct techniques or repairs, there could be catastrophic repercussions should they fail. More dangerous toxic chemicals such as cyanide could spill into the river and completely ruin the water quality in Hungary.

With more than 90 percent of Hungary relying solely on groundwater, and with 47 out of 108 groundwater bodies considered to be “possibly at risk,” the water quality in Hungary remains in jeopardy. Something must be done to reverse the rising levels of pollution and stop the harm to the environment.

One potential solution comes from a European Union-funded project that brings clean drinking water to those in Hungary affected by polluted groundwater. The National Water Management Administration is responsible for organizing 33 projects that have already brought clean water to 227 communities. They are currently working to complete these projects in time to qualify for 100 billion HUF in financing from the European Union. These projects are the greatest hope to improve water quality in Hungary at this time.

Katelynn Kenworthy

Photo: Flickr

Hungary is a relatively large country with just under 10 million people within the borders. The large majority of the people are in the upper income bracket. Life expectancy in Hungary is 75 years, just above the world average. The majority of the population — 69 percent– live in urban areas. The top diseases in Hungary are the same as many other countries around the world.

The majority of the country has easy access to medical care and treated, if needed. There are no fees to pay for services. It is covered by the health insurance companies available to people.

The mortality rate of the country for every 100,000 people is 756 people. A very low rate compared to other places around the globe. Utilizing healthcare provided to the citizens is one of the major reasons why.

Cardiovascular Diseases

Number one on the list of top diseases in Hungary, much like the rest of the world, are various cardiovascular diseases. This category of diseases is responsible for 49 percent of the deaths in Hungary.

A higher percentage of death occur in males as opposed to females, approximately about 10,000 more deaths.

Chronic Respiratory Diseases 

Other non-communicable diseases, which result in death among the Hungarian population, include injuries and chronic respiratory diseases. Similar to cardiovascular diseases, the percentage of fatal cases in males are higher than females.

The risk factors include many items that are within an individual’s control. The top current risk factor in Hungary is elevated blood pressure sitting at 41 percent, followed closely by smoking tobacco, obesity, alcohol and drug abuse. The majority of these issues can be discounted through making healthy lifestyle changes, such as diet and exercise.

In regards to healthcare, Hungary is better off than many countries around the world. Even though the majority of the top diseases in Hungary are similar to others on a global scale, it is their healthcare that gives them an edge in dealing with these diseases.

Brendin Axtman

Photo: Flickr

Hungary, which is located in Central Europe between Romania and Austria, has seen promising trends in the health and wellbeing of its people. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the estimated life expectancy in Hungary was 76 years of age as of 2014. At the turn of the 21st century, it was just over 70 years. In addition, the European Commission (EC) and WHO reported other health improvements, including a decrease in infant mortality, suicide and self-harm. Incidences of AIDS, cancer and cardiovascular disease, as well as these diseases’ death rates, also showed a decline. However, when compared to 10 other European countries, the data showed higher death rates for both HIV and AIDS in Hungary.

The government is taking an active role in the prevention and treatment of these three major diseases in Hungary, according to the WHO. Unfortunately, the stigma surrounding HIV/AIDS is still very common. Another issue raised by the EC is that of confidential STD testing. Up until 1996, an individual wanting to be tested for HIV was required to reveal their identity, along with the names of their previous sexual partners, who were then tested for the disease. In 1997, the government reformed procedures, creating a two-step process that is still used today. A first test does not require people to reveal their identities, but if a second, confirmational test is necessary, that information must be disclosed. As the EC points out, people likely avoid testing since there is no way to have it done anonymously.

After the government dismantled the National AIDS Committee in 2000, people with HIV/AIDS could only seek help from one hospital in Budapest: Saint Lazlo Hospital. The EC notes that patients receive good care, but with just one venue for treatment, HIV/AIDS cannot be treated nationwide. In addition, many doctors remain unknowledgeable about the major diseases in Hungary, and dentists often refuse to treat patients with HIV/AIDS.

There is good news. According to the EC, the Hungarian government is working to end discrimination against infected individuals. They are also working to create educational programs that work towards the prevention and development of new and improved treatment options, such as importing medication that has not been previously accessible.

Helen Barker

Photo: Flickr

5 Facts About the Hunger in Hungary
While Hungary is a thriving country, the nation still struggles with feeding its people. Here are five facts about Hunger in Hungary.

5 Facts About Hunger in Hungary

  1. In Hungary, more than 40,000 children go without sufficient nourishment. For every 1,000 children, 6.1 die before their fifth birthday. Although the issue of hunger is indisputable, discussing the topic is considered taboo, and many fail to address it.
  2. Half a million children live in poverty in Hungary. There are three different types of hunger — children being unable to afford food is the first. Another kind of hunger is the lack of a quality diet. The third type of hunger occurs when the child is deprived of the proper nutrients while in the womb. This hunger occurs when the mother is not eating properly and healthily. Lack of nutrition for the mother and fetus can result in premature birth, and sometimes maternal mortality.
  3. According to the report of the Hungarian UNICEF Child Welfare Committee, the international deprivation index states that every other Hungarian child is deemed deprived.
  4.  More than half of Hungary’s area lies in the Great Plain. Although the soil is fertile, most of the region lacks adequate rainfall and is prone to drought, requiring extensive irrigation. Hungarians mainly harvest corn, wheat, sugar beets, potatoes and rye. The economy in Hungary is thriving, but the hunger in Hungary is still a large problem. The country exports most of its crops, when they could be used to feed the people at home. The rate of poverty among single-earner households was 10 percent in 2005. In 2014, it reached 25 percent.
  5. Fortunately, few children actually die of hunger in the country. The government provides cheap or free meals in nurseries, pre-schools and schools for 370,000 children in need. Hunger in Hungary is a problem that schools take very seriously, and administrations are sure that no child leaves school needing food.

Hungary is working to solve its hunger problem through schools, community programs and government involvement. The hunger in Hungary is making slow continuous progress, and the improvement shows considerable hope that the problem will be eradicated.

Rilee Pickle

Photo: Flickr

Hunger in Hungary
Hungary is a landlocked nation snuggled among seven other countries in Eastern Europe. Its capital is Budapest, a tourist spot well-known for its luxurious bathhouses. Even amid all the luxury and tourism, Hungary struggles with poverty. While it is comical in English that the namesake of this nation sounds like hungry, hunger in Hungary is no laughing matter.

Half a million children in Hungary live in poverty and over 40,000 of them are starving. The government of Hungary provides cheap or free meals in nurseries and schools for 370,000 children. However, these government-sponsored meals are only provided on school days; many children go to sleep hungry on weekends and holidays.

According to the Children’s Nutrition Fund (CNF), “it is the mission of GYEA (CNF of Hungary) to provide children in need with food when school cafeterias are closed.” Ongoing programs like the Food Aid Program have distributed more than 50 million pounds of food for those in need over the past seven years. In addition to this program, parents of children in need can get involved in a sponsorship program called “Chin Up!” This program provides poor families with monthly allowances if they keep a diary for their sponsors and provide invoices proving that the money was spent on feeding the family.

These programs are fighting to stop hunger in Hungary, and yet there are still issues to overcome. According to the report of the Hungarian United Nations International Children’s Emergency (UNICEF) Child Welfare Committee, every other Hungarian child is deemed deprived. That’s one in two. The children denoted are those that “do not receive food at least three times a day, do not have new clothes, never get to go on holiday or for whom there is no place to study in their home.”

The Hungarian government thus needs to continue establishing appropriate policies in order to prevent poverty levels from increasing.

Karyn Adams

Photo: Flickr