Considering the current context of the pandemic and World Health Day, which is celebrated on Tuesday, INE released some fundamental indicators on health in Portugal.
This “retrospective information gains particular relevance because it allows framing the information that is made available daily about the Covid-19 pandemic”, stresses the entity.
In 2019, half of the population (50.1 percent) over 16 (including) rated their health status as good or very good, and only 15.1 percent rated it as bad or very bad.
“Despite the recent improvement in the positive appreciation that residents make of their state of health (plus 4.1 p.p. from 2014 to 2019), Portugal remains one of the EU-28 countries in which this assessment is lowest: 49.3 percent in 2018, almost 20 p.p. less than the average obtained for the EU-28 (69.2 percent) “, reads the INE report.
More years of life, but not healthy
Generally, men are the ones who most positively evaluate their health status (55.5 percent in 2019, compared to 45.4 percent for women). But, the proportion of people aged 65 and over who rate their health positively (14.8 percent) is “significantly lower than that for people aged 16 to 64 (62.2 percent)“.
Last year, the healthy life expectancy for a 65-year-old was 7.3 years in Portugal – lower than the European average (10.0 years).
According to the results of INE, in the three-year period ended in 2018, “the life expectancy for a 65 year old person was around 19.5 years (17.6 years for men and 20.9 years for women in the same age)”.
However, “the expected number of years of healthy life at age 65 was considerably lower”: 7.3 years for the general population – 8.2 years for men and 6.9 for women.
“Life expectancy at birth in Portugal was estimated at 80.80 years for the total population in the three-year period ended in 2018, higher for women (83.43 years) than for men (77.78 years). Considering the information regarding the existence of limitations due to health problems, the estimated years of healthy life at birth was 58.6 years, lower for women (57.5 years) than for men (59.8 years) years)“, explains INE.
In this sense, it is the adjustment related to the limitations due to health problems that defines the lower expectation of the number of years of healthy life after 65 years.
Fact is, compared to the rest of the countries of the European Union, in 2018 Portugal ranked 9th, “with a value (7.3) lower than 2.7 years of healthy life at 65 (the European average was 10, 0 years)“.
In addition, it was the country where there was the greatest difference between the expectation of healthy life years at 65 for men and women.
There are more private medical services
Public hospitals or public-private partnerships continued in 2018 to be the main producers of medical services, “providing more than 80 percent of emergency care, 75 percent of hospitalizations, close to 70 percent of surgeries and around 64 percent of medical appointments “.
However, private hospitals recorded an increase in the production of medical services compared to the previous year, “with 12.5% more surgeries, 10.4% more in
emergency care, 6.9 percent more in medical consultations and 4.3 percent more hospitalizations “.
In 2018, there were 230 hospitals in Portugal – 111 belonging to official health services (107 public hospitals and 4 hospitals in public-private partnership).
From public hospitals, 102 hospitals were universally accessible and five were military or prison health institutions. But considering that hospitals in a public-private partnership were also of universal access, it is concluded that “the number of universal access hospitals per 100 thousand inhabitants was 1.0 in 2018, as in the previous three years”.
In the same year, there were 119 private hospitals (five more than in 2017), “increasing the predominance of the number of private hospitals started in 2016”.
Of all the institutions, about 76 percent were general hospitals, that is, “they were part of more than one hospital”.
In 2018, there were 35,400 beds available for immediate hospitalization of patients – 68.1 percent in public hospitals or in a public-private partnership and 31.9 percent in private hospitals – representing an increase over the previous year.
However, the number is still slightly below that recorded in 2008 (35.8 thousand), “having been observed throughout the decade a progressive reduction of the relative weight of the public sector in the offer of this service”.
In other words, the average number of hospital beds was 3.4 per thousand inhabitants.
Considering the growing number of private health institutions, INE also reports that admissions to private hospitals continue to increase, compared to previous years.
More health professionals than in the EU
According to the data released this Monday, in 2018, the Order of Doctors had 53 657 professionals registered – 14.7 thousand more than in 2008 – reaching a ratio of 5.3 doctors per thousand inhabitants (3.7 in 2008).
It should be noted that this increase “has been consistently higher (3.4 per cent on average from 2009 to 2017) than that recorded in the EU-28 (1.3 per cent).
In the same period, the number of doctors increased by 10.7 percent in the EU-28, with an average growth of 1.3 percent per year “, the document explains.
That year, Portuguese hospitals were at the service of about 27 thousand doctors, 83.0 percent of whom were employed in public hospitals or in public-private partnership (approximately 22 thousand doctors).
The Order of Nurses, in turn, registered 73 650 professionals in the same year – 16.9 thousand more than in 2008 (there were 56 709 in 2008) – it is estimated that there are 7.2 nurses per thousand inhabitants (5.8 in 2008).
Of these, in Portuguese hospitals, there were about 43 thousand, 88.1 percent allocated to public hospitals or in public-private partnerships.
The truth is that the data indicate that, in addition to having more professionals in recent years, there was also a increase in emergency room visits and medical consultations in Portuguese hospitals.
According to the information, about 7.8 million calls were made to emergency services in hospitals – an increase of 2.5 percent over the previous year – with public hospitals or public-private partnerships having 82.6 percent and private hospitals 17.4 percent.
Already external consultations grew more significantly in private hospitals. Like this, the number of medical appointments at the hospital’s outpatient unit increased 3.0 percent between 2017 and 2018 – in private hospitals over 6.9 percent and in public hospitals or in public-private partnership over 0.9 percent.
Approximately 20.4 million medical consultations were carried out at the hospital’s external consultation unit, 63.8 percent of which were provided by public hospitals or in a public-private partnership, with private hospitals providing 36.2 percent of the total of consultations.