The life expectancies without disability of men and women in Estonia has decreased by 1.4 years and three years from 2009 to 2016, a study conducted by the Praxis center for policy studies shows. The study was carried out for the Ministry of Social Affairs and the Government Office.
Life expectancy without disability, or Healthy Life Years (HLY), decreased from 59 years to 56 years for women and from 55 to 53.6 years for men, spokespeople for the Government Office told BNS on Tuesday.
The average life expectancy in Estonia is 82 years for women and 73 years for men, and the increase in average life expectancy occurred as a result of lower mortality. This meant that the average life expectancy had increased not because of residents’ better health, but because people lived longer when sick as a result of more effective treatment methods.
That people were experiencing serious health problems was indicated by the fact that the labor market lost approximately 14,000 working-age people between the ages of 16 and 59 every year. They were assigned tentative permanent incapacity for work, Laura Aaben, health policy analyst at Praxis, said.
Also a cause for concern was that health problems preventing people from leading a normal everyday life had started to trouble younger and younger people, and the percentage of such people was growing fastest in the age group of up to 35-year-olds.
While on the one hand this had to do with an increase in the incidence of chronic diseases in younger age groups, on the other hand the role of mental illnesses as the reason causing work incapacity had grown. As a result of such ailments, permanent incapacity had been assigned to 2,300 people in 2015, most of whom were younger than 44.
While the study reveals serious signs of danger in the health indicators of the population of Estonia, it also highlights areas where positive changes have taken place between 2009 and 2016. For example, the number of deaths through injury has decreased by a third, the life expectancy of people with cancer has increased, the incidence of HIV has decreased in important target groups, and smoking and the consumption of alcohol have declined.
“These are very big successes that can be attributed to successful policies, such as the national HIV strategy and the alcohol and tobacco policy Green Papers, which have set out specific targets to help make consistent progress toward these goals,” Aaben said.
Editor: Dario Cavegn