Health services are provided by regional boards under the administration and control of the Department of Health. A comprehensive health service, with free hospitalization, treatment, and medication, is provided for low-income groups. The middle-income population is entitled to free maternity, hospital, and specialist services, and a free diagnostic and preventive service is available to all persons suffering from specified infectious diseases. Insurance against hospital and certain other medical expenses is available under a voluntary plan introduced in 1957.
Since World War II, many new regional and county hospitals and tuberculosis sanatoriums have been built. As of 1999, there were an estimated 2.3 physicians and 3.7 hospital beds per 1,000 people.
While deaths from cancer, particularly lung cancer, and heart disease are rising, those from many other causes have been decreasing rapidly. Infant mortality has been reduced from 50.3 per 1,000 live births in 1948 to 6 in 2000. Tuberculosis, long a major cause of adult deaths, declined from 3,700 cases in 1947 to only 15 per 100,000 in 1999. Average life expectancy at birth in 2000 was 76 years. The general mortality rate was an estimated 8 per 1,000 people as of 2002. Tobacco consumption decreased from 2.4 kg (5.3 lbs) during 1984–86 to 2.2 kg (4.9 lbs) a year per adult in 1995. In 1993, the major causes of death per 100,000 people were: heart and circulatory disease (399.2), cancer (211.5), and ischemic heart disease (218.7). Heart disease rates were higher than average for highly industrialized countries. Between 1990–93, the likelihood of dying after age 65 of heart disease was 349 (for men) and 324 (for women) per 1,000 people.
In 1994 children up to one year old were immunized as follows: diphtheria, pertussis, and tetanus, 65%; polio, 63%; and measles, 78%.
As of 1999, the number of people living with HIV/AIDS was estimated at 2,200 and deaths from AIDS that year were estimated at fewer than 100. HIV prevalence was 0.1 per 100 adults.