Health Crisis and Mortality Trends by Causes of Death in Belarus (1965-2008)

By Pavel Grigoriev


Compared to the other countries of the former USSR, mortality trends in Belarus have received very little attention. Until now, a lack of detailed cause-specific mortality data has been a significant obstacle to mortality research in this country. This article pursues two main objectives: first, to reconstruct continuous cause-specific mortality series for Belarus for the period of 1965 onwards; and second, to analyse the series obtained with a focus on the most important developments. The analysis is based upon original data on causes of death. To overcome the problem of discontinuity in mortality series caused by the periodical revisions in classifications of diseases, we apply the method of a posteriori reconstruction. As a result of this effort, the harmonized cause-specific mortality series are now freely available to the international research community. Our analysis suggests that the mortality dynamics in Belarus over the last half-century have been very unfavourable overall, especially for males. Mortality from cardiovascular diseases, and excessive violent and alcohol-related mortality have remained major public health threats. In view of the deteriorating long-term dynamics of these causes, the epidemiologic situation in Belarus can be characterized as a chronic health crisis.


  • Belarus
  • mortality
  • health crisis
  • causes of death
  • a posteriori reconstruction
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