Death by a Thousand Cuts

Poland’s health system is quite often praised, thanks to the quality of staff involved and the costs involved – especially when compared to many other national health systems. However, it appears that the Polish system has a high standard as it is required to heal all the many illnesses in Poles, as opposed to helping them to avoid sickness. A website called World Life Expectancy has compiled information from numerous sources such as the World Health Organisation (WHO), World Bank, CIA and UNESCO on both life expectancy information but also on causes of health issues, especially those which have implications leading to mortality.The figures are generally listed as being from 2010 data, so should be relevant for today’s calculations.

With so much information and statistics on the site, it can be difficult to consider where to begin. However, in line with the site name, with life expectancy figures. The normal life expectancy for a Pole is 75.63 years, and while this is obviously a strong level on a world scale, it does not compare favourably in European terms, with it being listed in 25th out of 37 European countries listed. However, the caveat here of course is that most countries in the top 20 in Europe are one that did not lie behind the Iron Curtain, while those near Poland include Slovakia, Lithuania and Czech Republic. To put it into a larger perspective, Poland’s life expectancy is 50th in the world rankings. Thus it might be argued that as more time passes since the fall of communism, the better this level should be for Poles.

European Life expectancy rates

However, when you delve deeper into the figures there are some trends which are more worrying for Poles, and probably will not change easily. As  well as the life expectancy, the site reports on causes of deaths per 100,000 people in the population. The first sub-category in this area refers to alcohol-related deaths. In this area, Poland excels but for the wrong reasons. It is 4rd in European terms, and 14th in the world with most deaths as a result of alcohol-related effects. There are many others areas also as the statistics are expanded out, and below you can find a summary of the main ones in which Poland features strongly.

– Alcohol related deaths @ 4.46 per 100,000 population: 3rd most in Europe and 14th most in the world

– Cancer related deaths @ 169.32 per 100,000: 3rd in Europe and 6th in the world

– Heart disease related deaths @ 122.40 per 100,000: 14th in Europe and 78th in the world

– Drownings @ 2.3 per 100,000: 12th in Europe and 124th in the world

– Falls (and related accidents) @ 7.61 per 100,000: 8th in Europe and 23rd in the world

– Fires @ 1.27 per 100,000: 8th in Europe and 110th in the world

– Leukaemia @ 5.5 per 100,000: 8th in Europe and 21st in the world

– Multiple Sclerosis @ 0.93 per 100,000: 7th in Europe and 7th in the world

– Road traffic accidents @ 14.33 per 100,000: 6th in Europe and 101st in the world

– Suicide @ 14.36 per 100,000: 11th in Europe and 33rd in the world

European Death rates as a result of alcohol

European Death rates as a result of cancer

European Death rates as a result of suicide

Thus, it’s clear there is much work to be done from a Polish perspective to improve the approaches to treating such issues such as cancers, alcohol-related deaths and suicides, especially if Poland would like to reach the levels of other European countries. As medical science advances and Poland is able to be involved in applying treatments, and using the right strategies for medium to longer term health care, there should be no reason why Poland should not see its people living longer and healthier lives.

 Personally, I found the website very interesting and it is worth some time in digging through the data provided, in order to get an idea of how Europeans live and die.

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6 thoughts on “Death by a Thousand Cuts

  1. kuk says:

    Booze, ciagarettes and depression, that sounds about right.

  2. Alcohol death rates in Slovakia 0.00%?

    Shurely shome mishtake!

    Bosnia and Albania = a lot of Muslims, but Slovakia?!? This is evidently a methodology thing.

  3. GLS says:

    I guess a fact which I you missed and does contribute is the second place in the world (CIA World Factbook) in road fatalities.
    Second just after mother-Russia.
    I would probably be safe-ish to assume that a majority of drivers having fatal accidents (apart from the innocent victims of) are young, inexperienced drivers, which would drop the overall life expectancy statistics quite dramatically.
    So alcohol, bravado and stupidity, the holly trinity…
    I don’t know how the organ donor situation looks in Poland, but it should be an obligatory requirement to receiving a driver’s license. All those fresh, if a bit shaken, bits would help the sick live longer and improve the stats.
    That’s my two bob’s worth.

  4. guest says:

    Fat food and cheap Russian cigarettes, made of old chinese tractor tires. And alkohole24h of course.

  5. Martin says:

    It’s hard to look at that alcohol-related deaths chart without imagining that there are some very different metrics being used. Denmark and Estonia with more than twice as many deaths as any other country? Slovakia with none? Bulgaria with a tenth of the alcohol-related deaths of Belarus?

    Time to take a look at the sources on the webisite…

    OK, I’m back. The site claims that its data comes from the WHO, World Bank etc. but there are no links I can find to the source data. It’s therefore impossible to assess the methodology.

    The more I look around the site, the more it seems like spam-bait. Pages like this:

    Frankly, I think getting high-profile blogs to link to their site is exactly what they want. Far better to get your stats direct from the source e.g.

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