Country profile

Slovakia is a republic in Eastern Europe with a population of 5.4 million. The country has gone through large reforms since the disintegration of Czechoslovakia in 1993. In 2004 Slovakia became part of the EU,  joining the Eurozone in 2009. Slovakia has an advanced economy with one of the fastest growth rates in the EU and the OECD, with a nominal per capita GDP of $35,094 (2018 est.). The country also scores relatively well on equality measures.

Slovakia is structured into eight administrative regions and 79 districts. The regions are relatively autonomous entities, and there are considerable regional differences in wealth between the western and the eastern regions. Slovakia has a state funded healthcare system available to all citizens, and governed by the Ministry of health. The system ranks relatively low on quality and efficiency measures, and many hospitals run with debt. Private healthcare is also available, although usage is limited. The Public Health Authority carries out the monitoring of the health status of the population.

Life expectancy at birth in 2015 was 76.7 years. A large gender gap persists, with Slovak men living on average more than seven years less than women (73.1 years compared to 80.2 years). There are also large disparities by socioeconomic group: people with a low level of
education live on average 10 years less than those with a university education. In 2014, 23% of adults were daily smokers, above the EU average. Smoking among men is nearly two times greater than among women, and smoking among people with low education is almost two-thirds higher compared to those with higher education. Many behavioural risk factors in the Slovak Republic are more common among populations with low levels of education or income.  Obesity is nearly three times more common among the lowest-educated population (22%) than the highly educated (8%).


Policy responses

Health inequalities started to be addressed by politicians in Slovakia in 2000, when the State Health Policy Concept stated health equity as a basic moral principal. The Ministry of Health’s 2006 “National Health Promotion Programme” explicitly contained the overall aims to create health-promoting conditions for the entire population, and to reduce health inequalities. However, the situation changed in 2007, when the document was revised and no longer directly addressed the issue. Currently, the issue of health inequalities is only implicitly addressed by politicians, and falls within the broader efforts of the government to improve equity overall. In addition, with respect to vulnerable groups, focus is usually directed at the Roma population.

Representatives from several sectors have influenced the overall policy response, which has also been strongly influenced by regional-level advocacy. Recently a new method of cooperation has been adopted, which focuses on a more open and horizontal approach and is based on working groups involving stakeholders from different sectors. The new method can be described mainly as a triangular collaboration between politicians, health professionals and researchers.

An overview of policy responses addressing health inequalities in can be found in our Policy Database.


Good practices

An overview of projects and initiatives that are currently taking place or that have successfully been finalized, and that are addressing health inequality issues, can be found in our Project Database.

Key actors

Please find below an overview of key actors in Slovakia working on health inequality issues:


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Key resources

Please find below an overview of relevant documents addressing health inequality issues in Slovakia. Further publications can be found in our Publications Database.


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