The leading causes of death in Cyprus are ischaemic heart disease, stroke and diabetes, with the mortality rate for diabetes being the highest in the EU (53 per 100,000 in 2016 compared to 22 in the EU on average).
Nevertheless, the death rate has fallen since 2004 for ischaemic heart disease (by 31%), stroke (31%) and diabetes (36%).
The increase in deaths from lung cancer reflects the legacy of high smoking rates, whereas dementia mortality rates have increased partly due to changes in diagnostic and coding practices, as well as population ageing.
The stats are among Cyprus’ State of Health profile for 2019, released by the OECD and the European Observatory on Health Systems and Policies in cooperation with the European Commission
Erica Richardson, Technical Officer at the European Observatory, said “Cypriots live a very long time,” adding that at 82.2 years Cyprus has one of the highest life expectancies in the EU.
“One of the notable things about Cyprus is the increase in the number of people aged over 65, as a demographic trend is notable because the health system has to adapt to meet the needs of that population.”
Nearly half (47%) of people aged 65 years and over in Cyprus report having no chronic conditions.
According to Richardson, the two diseases which stand out are lung cancer and Alzheimer’s disease where mortality has been increasing.
“With Alzheimer’s disease, which is likely to be linked to changes in the way the disease is defined…this might not be a very clear finding.”
“The increase in deaths from lung cancer is notable and that is very much linked to a legacy of high smoking rates in the country.”
According to the data, Cyprus – with one in four daily smokers – only spends 1% of its GDP on preventive services compared to the EU average of 3.1%.
Tobacco consumption remains a major public health concern in Cyprus, said the report.
The proportion of adults who reported that they smoked every day was 26% in 2014, among the highest across EU countries and much higher than the EU average of 19%
Richardson said that one in five deaths is tobacco-related in Cyprus and smoking rates are high while obesity (43%) is also high in children aged 6 to 9. One in seven adults (17%) are also classed as obese
“These are issues that the authorities are aware of and they have been putting things in place to try and address them.”
According to the data presented by Richardson, Cyprus has the lowest binge drinking in the EU.
Constantinos Stylianou from the Cyprus National Addictions Authority said their data had Cyprus ranked third in the EU in the binge drinking of minors.
Cyprus spent in 2017, 6.7% of its GDP on health compared to an EU average of 9.8% of GDP.
The public share of health expenditure which stands at 43% is the lowest in the EU which has an average of 79%, according to the data.
Conversely, private health expenditure which mainly consists of direct out-of-pocket payments amounted to 56% of total spending which is the highest in the EU.
Cyprus has the lowest preventable mortality rate in the EU and low mortality from treatable causes, reflecting lower risk factor impacts among adults.
Ierotheos Papadopoulos, head of the EU Representation in Cyprus said the four pillars of Europe’s “Beating Cancer Plan” will be presented on February 4, by EU Health Commissioner Stella Kyriakides.
The State of Health report was presented Thursday at EU House, in Nicosia.