The basic framework of the health care system has remained the same since the breakup of the Soviet Union. Health care is administered through a network of hospitals, polyclinics, tertiary care centers, and walk-in clinics. As of 1999, there were an estimated 4.4 physicians and 12.2 hospital beds per 1,000 people. In addition to hospitals and medical personnel, the medical infrastructure comprises pharmacies and other retail outlets from which people and institutions acquire medicines and other basic medical supplies. Health care expenditures in 1999 were an estimated 5.6% of GDP.
The incident with the most wide-ranging effects on the health of the Belarussian population was the accident at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant in April 1986. An estimated 2.2 million Belarussians were directly affected by radioactive fallout. As a result of the disaster, the population is constantly subject to increased amounts of background radiation that weakens the immune systems of individuals in contaminated areas; many are said to suffer from "Chernobyl AIDS."
The 1999 birthrate was 10 per 1,000 inhabitants, with 101,317 births. Life expectancy in 2000 was 68 years. In 1997, children one year of age were immunized at the following rates: tuberculosis, 98%; diphtheria, pertussis, and tetanus, 97%; polio, 98%; and measles, 98%. The infant mortality rate in 2000 was 11 per 1,000 live births and the overall death rate for the country was 14 per 1,000. Maternal mortality was estimated at 28 per 100,000 live births in 1998. In 1999, there were 80 deaths from tuberculosis per 100,000 people.
As of 1999 the number of people living with HIV/AIDS was estimated at 14,000 and deaths from AIDS that year were estimated at 400. HIV prevalence was 0.28 per 100 adults. The National AIDS Center was established in 1990.