The Estonian government endorsed a public health development plan for the 2009-2020 period aimed at raising the average healthy life expectancy to 60 years for men and 65 years for women, and the average life expectancy to 75 years for men and 84 years for women.
The plan deals with health policy on the level of the whole society rather than just one ministry. "It's clear that health is not supplied by a doctor who writes out a prescription for it and then you go and buy it in a pharmacy," Social Affairs Minister Maret Maripuu said.
"The state, local self-governments, the private and the third sector, and people themselves must all together see to the good health of the population," the minister said.
Recent years' developments in public health have been positive -- the birth rate has risen and the lifespan has lengthened, she observed.
As a result of the last decade's developments, the Estonian public health system has become one of the most cost-effective in Europe. But the gap with West European and Nordic countries, whose level is a guiding mark to Estonia, is still wide and population growth remains negative.
The overall objective of the development plan is to increase the number of years of healthy life by reducing the premature death and sickness rates.