Almost half of deaths in Latvia come too soon - Eurostat

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A total of 48.5% of deaths in Latvia in 2013 could have been amenable, that is, delayed through optimal healthcare, according to an Eurostat study released Tuesday.

Of the total deaths of people younger than 75 in the EU, 33.7% or 557,000 people could be considered to have died prematurely, as they could have been saved with current medical knowledge and technology.

The lowest share of avoidable deaths for the year 2013 was in France (23.8%), Denmark (27.1%), and Belgium (27.5%).

Only Romania fared worse than Latvia, with 49.4% of deaths considered avoidable. The statistic was 45.4% in Lithuania and 42.5% in Estonia.

According to Eurostat, 6,478 people could have gone on living in Latvia in 2013 should they have received proper health care.

The main causes of amenable deaths were heart attacks, strokes, and varieties of cancer.

In late April Valdis Keris, head of the Health Care Workers Union, said that 1,500 people of a working age die in Latvia each year due to restricted or low-quality access to health care services. 

There is scant funding for health care in Latvia. An additional €35m could be allotted to health care in 2017, slightly increasing Latvia's budget deficit.

However PM Māris Kučinskis has requested that prior to a funding increase the industry should be audited, working out a reform plan. 

The Health Ministry is working on a plan, pending government approval on July 1, which would increase medics' wages and reduce the number of procedures the state pays for.

Mandatory health insurance paid for by employees and employers is also being considered.

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