Maltese people have longest good health lifespan in the EU

According to a new report on the State of Health in the EU, Maltese people spend 90% of their lifetime in good health, more than any other member state

The Maltese population spends a longer proportion of its lifespan in good health
The Maltese population spends a longer proportion of its lifespan in good health

Maltese people spend on average 90% of their lifespan in good health, longer than in any other EU member state, according to the 2018 State of Health in the EU country profile report for 2017.

According to the report, the average life expectancy was 81.9 years in 2015 up from 78.4 years in 2000 and the sixth highest across the EU. The average life expectancy across the bloc was 80.6 years.

In fact, Maltese men were found to, on average, live 72.6 healthy years, with women spending an average of 74.6 years in good health.

The increase in lifespan was mainly driven by a reduction in premature deaths from cardiovascular diseases, though these remained the leading cause of death for both Maltese men and women.

On average, 70% of Maltese people reported being in good health, however large disparities were noted across income groups, with 86% of high income individuals saying they were healthy, compared with 55% in the lowest income bracket.

Cancer is the second highest cause of death followed by respiratory diseases and diseases of the nervous system.

The review found that prevalence obesity remains the highest in the EU, representing a significant public health challenge. A quarter of Malta’s adult population and 30% of 15-year-olds are overweight or obese.

One in five Maltese adults reported smoking tobacco every day, while the average alcohol consumption was an average of 8.5 litres a year. The Maltese consumed less alcohol and tobacco than the EU average. While still lower than the EU average, alcohol consumption was found to have increased since 2000.

The report found that health expenditure per capita in Malta has increased by more than one third since 2005, reaching €2,255 in 2015. This was below the EU average and was equivalent to roughly 8.4% of GDP.

At 69%, the public share of health spending remained significantly below the European average (79%) meaning Malta remained one of the European countries with the highest private spending on health. Nearly all of private spending is out of pocket and mainly includes the cost of pharmaceuticals and private general practitioners or specialists.

Population coverage in the public system was found to be high, with only 0.8% of the population reporting feeling unable to obtain needed medical care because it was too expensive, too far, or due to long waiting lists.

Moreover, it found that there was little variability in the reporting of unmet needs between the lowest income quintile and the highest, “suggesting fairly equitable access to services across income groups”.