Nearly quarter of Latvians can't afford medical services

Nearly one-fourth or 22.4 percent of Latvia’s population did not receive the necessary medical care due to lack of money in 2014, according to the preliminary results of the European Health Interview Survey 2014 carried out by the national statistical office, reported BNS newswire Tuesday.

Last year, 28.8 percent of the population in Latvia could not afford the needed dental services, and 17.8 percent could not afford to purchase medicines prescribed by the doctor.

Among those who couldn't afford medical services were mostly women and those aged 55-64 years.

Over the last five years the number of people who have normal body weight, according to the body mass index, has decreased in Latvia.

In 2008, 44.7 percent of the population had normal weight, but in 2014 this indicator has dropped to 40.9 percent. Last year the body mass index of 22.1 percent of the population indicated obesity (16.2 pct in 2008), and only 1.8 percent of the population had insufficient body weight (2.2 pct in 2008).

The statistics office said that 39.8 percent of men and 32.1 percent of women had excess weight in Latvia in 2014, and 18.2 percent of men and 24.8 percent of women had obesity. The problem of excess weight and obesity affects the majority of men, reaching 30 years of age, and the majority of women over 40 years of age.

On the flip side, smoking rates seem to be dropping in Latvia. In 2014, 26.4 percent of Latvia’s residents said they have smoked, which is 8.3 percent less than in 2008 when the number stood at 34.7. Of them, 21.9 percent were daily smokers.

The share of men who are daily smokers has significantly decreased (from 46.3 pct in 2008 to 34.6 pct last year), but the share of women smoking every day has remained practically unchanged. The majority of men (59.5 pct) and women (83.6 pct) claim that they do not smoke at all.

Data on self-perceived health of the Latvian population in 2014 have been obtained within the framework of the European Health Interview Survey (EHIS).

The purpose of the survey is to obtain information on self-perceived health of the European Union (EU) citizens, their lifestyle, use of health care services and their availability in relation to socio-economic indicators in the country. The survey covered 7,000 residents of Latvia aged at least 15 years.

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