Slovakia: Country Health Profile 2023
19.12. 2023

Slovakia: Country Health Profile 2023

After two years, the Health Profile of Slovakia is being released again, addressing both health policy makers and anyone involved in shaping them. It serves to gain an overview of the key indicators of the population's health and the functioning of its healthcare system. It offers not only comparisons with other EU/EEA countries but also longitudinal comparisons due to its periodicity and uniform structure.

The State in Health in EU project, led by the European Commission in collaboration with the European Observatory on Health Systems and Policies and OECD, includes our involvement. Peter Pažitný had the opportunity to review the content of the latest edition.

The key findings of the Country Health Profile for 2023 are as follows:

  1. Life expectancy in Slovakia grew faster than the EU average in the decade before the pandemic, but between 2019 and 2022, it decreased by over half a year. The main causes of death in 2021 were cardiovascular diseases, COVID-19, and cancer.

  2. Almost half of the deaths in Slovakia in 2019 were associated with behavioral risk factors, with dietary risks and tobacco smoking being the main contributing factors.

  3. Healthcare expenditures in 2021 reached 7.8% of GDP, significantly lower than the EU average (11.0%). About 80% of these expenditures came from public sources, while out-of-pocket health expenses constituted 19% of total costs (EU average was 15%).

  4. The Slovak healthcare system provides its insured with an extensive package of benefits, but unmet healthcare needs are slightly above the EU average, mainly due to long waiting times, affecting individuals with lower incomes the most.

  5. The rate of avoidable mortality remained among the highest in the EU in 2020.

  6. COVID-19 significantly impacted healthcare provision in Slovakia, leading to a slowdown in cancer screening and a sharp reduction in the number of surgical procedures, such as hip and knee replacements.

  7. The number of hospital beds exceeds the EU average, but the occupancy rate is relatively low, indicating room for efficiency improvement. Hospital modernization is a priority under the Health Renewal and Resilience Plan (almost 1 billion EUR).

  8. The persistent shortage of healthcare workers poses a long-term problem; general practitioners, on average, are 57 years old, with 41% having already reached the standard retirement age. Increasing the attractiveness of the nursing profession and retaining staff are key measures to address current shortages.

  9. Legislative changes in 2022 also focused on addressing limited access to innovations in treatment, especially in cancer, leading to an increase in the number of reimbursed innovative drugs. Increased drug costs added additional pressure to the healthcare budget, already under significant strain due to the pandemic, inflation, and the war in Ukraine.

  10. Every seventh Slovak faces mental health problems, with limited access to mental health services due to an insufficient number of professionally trained healthcare workers, low funding, and the presence of stigma.



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