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Ukraine's health status has been changeable, due to the country's unstable socioeconomic situation, with periods of improvement followed by periods of drastic deterioration. The collapse of the Soviet Union has had a major impact on demographic and health indicators in the Ukraine. Since 1990, Ukraine's population has fallen by 5.6 million, from 51.6 million 4 to 46 million 5 (based on July 2008 estimates). The birth rate fell by almost 40% between 1990 (12.7 live births/1000 population) and 2001 (7.7) but has been slightly increasing since. 4 The birth rate for 2008 is estimated at 9.55.5 In 2001, the total fertility rate ranked lowest in Europe at 1.1 children born/women 4 and in 2008 the estimated rate of 1.25 continues to be low.5 At the same time, the proportion of births to unmarried mothers increased, from 11.2% in 1990 to 18.0% in 2001, especially affecting teenage mothers. The share of births to teenage mothers occurring outside marriage is still relatively low, at 24.3% (2001); however, the children involved face an increased risk of poverty. 4

The age structure of the population is changing because of an increase in the number of elderly people and a decrease in young people. The proportion of the population 65 and over has been on the rise over the last 18 years, from 12.4 in 1990 4 to 16.1% in 2008 (estimated).5 The proportion of the population under age 15 has been declining steadily over the last 18 years, from 21.4 in 1990 4 to 13.9% in 2008 (estimated).5 In the first half of the 1990s, Ukraine experienced a severe mortality crisis with male life expectancy at birth falling by 4.4 years between 1990 and 1995; among women, life expectancy fell by 2.4 years. While there was some improvement after 1995, mortality rates rose again after 1998, coinciding with the 1998 Russian economic crisis, which had implications for many major Russian trading partners. The fluctuations in life expectancy in the Ukraine in the 1990s were driven largely by cardiovascular diseases and external causes of death, which affected predominantly young and middle-aged men. By 2002, male life expectancy had fallen to 62.2 years, about 2.5 years lower than it had been in 1980 and 11.6 years lower than among women. In 2002, the main causes of death in the Ukraine were diseases of the circulatory system followed by neoplasms, injury and poisoning, and respiratory diseases, at respectively, 59%, 12%, 11% and 4%.4 Based on estimates from 2008, the male life expectancy has remained constant at 62.2 years.5


4 Lekhan V, Rudiy V, Nolte E. Health care systems in transition: Ukraine. Copenhagen, WHO Regional Office for Europe on behalf of the European Observatory on Health Systems and Policies, 2004, www.euro.who.int/Document/E84927.pdf

5 Central Intelligence Agency, The World Factbook, Ukraine, www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/up.html

Unless noted above, content for Ukraine is from THE HANDBOOK OF INTERNATIONAL ADOPTION MEDICINE by Laurie C. Miller. Copyright 2004 by Oxford University Press, Inc. Used by Permission.


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