Tuesday, 18 November 2014

Life expectancy in Russia and Ukraine

The Russian Agriculture Ministry said they may reduce salt supplies from Ukraine but foresees no shortages.

It wouldn't do Russia or Ukraine any harm to cut down on salt and while they are at it alcohol, tobacco and sugar.

In the nineties life expectancy in Russia and Ukraine was similar to other countries under the control of the Soviet Union.

Since then life expectancy in Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, Slovenia and the rest of Europe has increased while Russia and Ukraine departed from the trend and decreased.

Today one third of Ukrainians die prematurely before the age of 65 years, a rate much higher than in European countries.

A 2009 World Bank report said that about half of deaths before the age of 75 in Ukraine could be avoided through adequate prevention and treatment.

The biggest causes of premature mortality are linked to tobacco, alcohol and factors related to road safety and are largely modifiable and preventable.

The problem is further compounded by the lack of medical facilities which I can confirm first hand after having an emergency appendectomy several years back. 

I’ll spare you the detail but what is generally a routine procedure resulted in a near death experience, three separate operation’s, seven major incisions all taking place in a poorly equipped hospital in the middle of winter with intermittent heating and hot water. 

The highlight was my surgeon digging around in my wound without any anaesthetic looking to see if he had left anything behind that might have caused the complications.

He did refund my $600 though so it wasn't all bad.

The problem with consuming tobacco, alcohol and speeding and sometimes all three at the same time is we never believe it will happen to us.

It often requires government policy and action to bring in change to public attitudes and behaviour.

There have been some initiatives such as banning smoking in public places and the removal of alcohol sales from petrol stations, but as alcohol and tobacco consumption are amongst the highest in Europe and climbing it looks like much more needs to be done.