Chronic Disease in Hungary: An Ounce of Prevention
Preventive healthcare and health literacy are core issues in Hungary that, if left unaddressed, may hinder the country’s ability to push its health agenda forward and create a more sustainable system.
According to the OECD, life expectancy at birth in Hungary was 75.6 years in 2014, well below the European average of 83.3 years. Hungary also ranked quite low on this indicator compared to other countries in the region, with only Romania lagging behind. While the majority of knee-jerk conclusions may link this disparity to the chronic underfinancing of Hungary’s healthcare system, the root of the problems may actually be traced back to more behavioral and educational issues.
“More affluent people in Budapest have a life expectancy similar to that of the Swiss,” states the director general of United St. Istvan and St. Laszlo Hospitals Dr. István Vályi-Nagy. “However, some districts in the city have life expectancies up to 10 years less. One of the reasons for this is that these people do not take any responsibility for themselves, some can be quite ignorant, and many do not take any preventative actions. There are a lot of older people who lead most of their active lives in the communist system, and many are not in good condition health-wise. Many smoke and drink too much, eat fatty foods, and because of this they have multiple major problems all at the same time.”