Sharp drop in infant mortality in Lithuania

Article, 22.08.2016

Thanks to Swiss support, conditions for newborns and mothers in Lithuania have improved greatly. The infant mortality rate has dropped sharply since the nineties. With its enlargement contribution, Switzerland finances modern medical equipment, energy-efficient renovations and further training in healthcare in 27 hospitals.

A nurse takes care of an infant in an incubator.
Switzerland has been supporting mothers and newborns in Lithuania since the nineties. Since then, the infant mortality rate has dropped significantly. © Lithuanian Ministry of Health

The level of medical care for infants in Lithuania is remarkable thanks to the long-term partnership with Switzerland, said Lithuania's President Dalia Grybauskaite during her state visit in Bern on 6 October 2015. The infant mortality rate in Lithuania has indeed fallen sharply: while in 1992 an average of 16.5 in 1,000 infants died, by 2014 this figure had dropped to only 3.9. This corresponds to the Swiss infant mortality rate. 

Results achieved 

Switzerland began to provide funding for medical equipment in Lithuanian maternity wards in the nineties. With its enlargement contribution, Switzerland is providing the sector with funding amounting to CHF 45.6 million. Most of the projects will have been completed by the end of August 2016. The following results have been achieved: 

  • 27 hospitals have been provided with modern medical equipment. Three remote hospitals have received special transport vehicles for newborns.

  • 19 hospitals are better insulated. Heating and water supply systems, electrical installations and ventilation systems have been renovated. Not only has the indoor temperature improved, energy consumption and maintenance costs have also been significantly reduced.

  • More than 2,337 healthcare workers have attended training. 70 sets of diagnostic and treatment guidelines have been developed. 

The projects will run until April 2017. By then, solar panels and heat pumps will have been installed in 17 hospitals, two further hospitals will have been renovated and made energy efficient, a comprehensive patient database will have been built and additional further training carried out.

Comments from Lithuania 

"We are grateful to Switzerland. Together we have achieved spectacular results. When I visit maternity wards, I am always greeted with smiles from satisfied mothers and staff, both in the capital and in smaller towns. To use the words of Lithuania's first president, Dr Kazys Grinius: Healthy children are not only the treasure of their parents, but that of the entire nation."
Juras Požela, Lithuanian Minister for Health 

"The support we receive from Switzerland is particularly important because it allows us to treat every mother and every infant in Lithuania with the latest and best methods. I was able to witness for myself the fantastic progress that has been made since 2004 in Vilnius. All three of my children were born here. The conditions and the quality of care provided were better at each successive birth."
Valentin Gavrilov, Lithuanian Deputy Minister for Health 

"We are very lucky to receive such support from Switzerland. We receive modern technical equipment such as ultrasound devices, monitors to check the health of newborns and incubators. In other words, we get everything we need to ensure the safety of mothers in childbirth. We have also used the Swiss funding to insulate the roof of the hospital better, to modernise the ventilation system and replace the heating and electrical systems. The conditions for the newborns, the mothers and the staff have improved significantly."
Virgilijus Rudzinskas, head of Kaunas gynaecological clinic