Romanians live on average 1.4 years less than before the Covid-19 pandemic, a EU report that looks at life expectancy says.
The figure is double the European average of 0.7 years, the Health at a Glance report said.
Poor healthcare, unhealthy lifestyles and a lack of medical staff contributed to the drop in Romania.
The information was published this month in the latest European Commission Health Report which puts Romania second to last in Europe in terms of life expectancy.
Romanians live an average of 74.2 years, slightly higher than in neighboring Bulgaria where the figure is 73.6 years.
At the other end of the scale is Norway and Iceland where citizens can expect to live for more than 83 years followed by Ireland where the life expectancy is 82.8 years.
Still, life expectancy rose by four years between 2000 and 2019 from 71.2 to 75.6 years.
The pandemic reversed some of the gains. Even before the pandemic Romanians lived six years less than their European cousins.
“The pandemic has highlighted the importance of strengthening primary care, preventive services and public health, in a health system currently heavily reliant on inpatient care. Health workforce shortages and high out-of-pocket spending are key barriers to access,” the report said.
The difference between life expectancy for men and women is striking, with women living an average of eight years longer than men.
Romania spends among the least of its GDP on healthcare in Europe. The system s plagued by a lack of resources, corruption and politicized management.
Spending on primary care is also low. Poor primary care and prevention lead to high mortality rates for preventable and treatable diseases.
„The pandemic has highlighted the importance of strengthening primary health care, prevention services and public health in a health system that is currently heavily dependent on hospital care,” the report said.
The report says Romanians are dying at a younger age of Covid-19 than their European counterparts as there is a shortage of doctors and nurses.
Thousands of health staff have migrated in recent years to Western Europe, which has led to too few health workers, which “negatively affects access to care and increases waiting times”, the report says.
Unhealthy habits contribute to almost half of all deaths in Romania, the European Commission report says.
„Romania reports higher alcohol consumption and unhealthier diets than EU averages”.
Cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death, while lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer fatalities.