Press Release

Department of Health publish Health Statistics 2002

The Department of Health and Children today published Health Statistics 2002, which brings together statistical information from a wide variety of sources on demography, health status and the delivery of health services. It provides a broad overview of health in Ireland as well as serving as a resource and reference for those interested in particular aspects of health and the health services.

The report’s format continues to reflect the ongoing shift in emphasis from illness to the promotion of healthy lifestyles, the need for better information, particularly in the areas of health status, health risks and health determinants, and the continued development of community-based services. Data are presented for a number of years where available to show trends and comparative data from the other EU member states is also provided in the report where this is relevant.

This report is also available for downloading in PDF file format here.  The website also includes statistical tables which are updated as new information becomes available and will therefore supersede the information presented in certain areas of the printed report. The health statistics report is now printed in a three yearly cycle.

Some of the key statistics contained in the report are highlighted below and referenced with page and figure numbers:

  • Life expectancy for both males and females continues to rise showing gains of around ten years during the past 50 years (table B1, figure 1, p. 31). Females can expect to live approximately 5.5 years longer than males though the gap is slowly closing (figure 1, p. 31).
  • Perceived health is considered to be good or very good among 81% of Irish people. This is the highest rate in the EU (table C2 and figure 2, p. 62).
  • Birth numbers have been increasing since the mid-1990´s (table B3, p. 34). Ireland retains its long-standing position of having the highest birth and fertility rates within the EU (figures 12 and 15, pp. 40 and 42).
  • Births outside marriage stood at 31.2% of all births in 2001. This represents a reduction in 0.5% over the previous year and is the first reduction since the rate began to increase in the 1970´s. The rate has almost doubled since 1991 when it stood at 16.6% of all births (figure 9, p. 38).
  • Cancer was the cause of around 1 in 4 deaths in 2001 (figure 16, p. 44). However, the general trend in age-standardised death rates from all cancers shows a decrease (figure 19, p. 45)
  • Smoking was considered to be a contributory factor in approximately 20% of all deaths in 1995 (figure 28, p. 52). Figures for 1998 indicated that 31% of the population aged 15 and over were regular daily smokers although the recently published National Health and Lifestyle Surveys found that this figure may have fallen to 28% in 2002.
  • Infant, neonatal and perinatal mortality rates in Ireland continue to show a downward trend (figure 29, p. 54). The maternal mortality rate was 1.8 per 100,000 live births in 2000 (table B11, p 53). This was lower than the EU average of 5.5 per 100,000 live births.
  • HIV/AIDS incidence in Ireland is second lowest in the EU (figure 9, p. 70). Cases of and deaths from AIDS have fallen significantly since 1997 (table C10 and figure 8, p. 69).
  • Alcohol consumption is continuing to increase (table C27, p. 95). Ireland had the 2nd highest consumption of alcohol in the EU in 1999 (table C28 and figure 29, pp. 96 – 97).
  • MMR immunisation uptake rates are varying between Health Board/Regional Authority from 66-87% in 2001 with a national average of 73%. This has fallen from the 1999 rate of 77% (tables D7A-C, pp.113-114).
  • Psychiatric inpatient numbers fell from 8,360 in 1990 to 3,833 in 2000 (figure 1, p. 134). This reduction in numbers is in part due to the non-replacement of long-stay patients as a result of the development of more extensive community psychiatric services and facilities. Mortality of these patients is also a factor.
  • Acute hospital day case activity has risen by over 75,000 between 1997 and 2000 (tables H1A-D, pp 167 – 168). More recent figures yet to be published indicate a further increase of 81,000 in the annual day case rate up to 2001. Over 50% of in-patient and day case activity is carried out as day cases in the major teaching hospitals. This is an internationally recognised measure of hospital effectiveness.
  • Average length of stay for all age groups has levelled off over the last number of years with reductions over the levels prevalent in the 1980´s (figure 4, p 205). The biggest reductions have been in the 75+ age group where the average length of stay has been reduced by over 7 days since 1981 and in the under 1 age group which has seen an average reduction of over 6 days in the same period.
  • Consultant numbers have risen by over 300 between 1990 and 2001 (figure 2, p. 245). Numbers have increased most sharply since 1996 with an approximate increase of 250 over this period.
  • Public health nurse numbers have risen from 3.6 per 10,000 population in 1989 to 4.2 per 10,000 population in 2000 (figure 6, p 252). This reflects the general increase in nursing numbers in the health services where an increase of 36% in the numbers of acute hospital nursing staff has occurred between 1997 and 2002.
  • Health expenditure as a % of GNP in 2002 was at its highest rate since 1983 standing at 7.39% or €7.7bn (Table L3, p. 258).