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    Copyright: The following text is for personal information only. Any professional use or publication in written or electronic form is subject to an agreement with AIM, 17 rue Rebeval, F-75019 Paris, France

    WED, 18 JUN 1997 21:35:12 GMT

    TRANSITION BAD FOR THE HEALTH OF THE NATION

    The population of Slovenia experienced in the past few years great psychological shocks in connection with the change of the economic and the political system which led to great uncertainty, and all that significantly influenced deterioration of its psychological and physical health. The number of patients in psychiatric hospitals increased by 90 per cent!

    AIM Ljubljana, 5 June, 1997

    Slovenian commercial television a few days ago carried a contribution about the conditions in the factory of Renault's vehicles Revoz from Novo mesto, where the workers have been announcing a strike for some time. To a question of the journalist about what was happening, only two out of more than ten interviewed workers decided to give a very brief answer. Why do they prefer to be silent? Out of fear. Probably the same would be in majority of other factories. People are working overtime without compensation, people are working for salaries which are lower than the minimum salaries according to collective contracts, some are working in the night shift, and on Saturdays and Sundays, also without compensation, all with the only aim to keep their jobs. Capitalism has deprived them of for decades preserved safety of employment, bacause nowadays they can lose their jobs any time, and also most of their free time, since (if necessary) they work for day in, day out.

    It should be said that in former Yugoslavia Slovenia had the lowest unemployment rate which ranged between one and two per cent, and nowadays officially 14 per cent of the citizens of Slovenia are unemployed. New circumstances of the struggle for survival, and the struggle for promotion and making a career, all that has significantly affected psychological and physical health of the Slovenians. This problem was elaborated to some detail by Matjaz Hansek, a sociologist, in his analysis of the status of health in Slovenia. One of the most frightening datum is an enormous increase of the number of patients in psychiatric hospitals. Between 1989 and 1993, their number increased by 90 per cent! Data reveal a difficult situation Slovenian population is in, because only 40 per cent of men and 25 per cent of women are neither worried nor nervous. Half of the pollees have difficulties with sleep and the author of the analysis warns that more than half of the adult population of Slovenia live in stress. Another interesting datum is the general fatigue among the population. In comparison with the last few years of life in former Yugoslavia, the Slovenians feel tired much more in their own state and the new system. Fatigue has increased from 32.5 to 45.4 per cent among men and from 46 to 61 per cent among women.

    A few data indicate that women feel worse than men. This may not necessarily be true, because men are rarely ready to admit that they do not feel well, and on the other hand, an average woman in Slovenia is more under strain than an average man. Majority of women are employed, and at home they have another job - their families. Working hours used to last until between 14.00 to 16.00 h, and nowadays (except for those working at a copnveyor belt or behind counters), one can never say for sure. It often happens that women simply cannot meet all their obligations. Consequences are increasing. They either leave their jobs or they are fired by the owner, many fall ill, and majority of them live in stress. Due to that, owners of enterprises and other firms prefer not to employ women. It is interesting that the category of the population in Slovenia for which it is the most difficult to find a job are women with college and university education over the age of 35. In other words, highly educated experienced women, but also most frequently with families, because Slovenian women marry mostly about the age of 25, and later. Therefore,it should not be surprising that almost one third of women have propblems with nerves.

    In the past few years, the death rate has also increased. The cause of death of majority of people are cardio-vascular diseases, but a significant factor are external causes, too. In Slovenia these are mostly traffic accidents and suicides, but the number of murders is also increasing. Slovenia has become known for the suicide rate for years. Death rate due to suicides is higher than in Great Britain. In his analysis, Hanzek claims (and this is a thesis accepted by an incresing number of Slovenian psychologists and sociologists) that the Slovenians are more aggressive than the European average. This is evident from the high murder rate (2.4 per cent among 100 thousand inhabitants, and two per cent in EU) and suicide (31.9 per cent in Slovenia, and 18.1 per cent in EU). Only five states out of twenty have a higher murder rate than Slovenia and only Hungary has more suicides than Slovenia!

    Slovenia and its authorities will have to take much more care about consequences of quick changes which the population has experienced. The young Slovenian state, as well as majority of other countries in transition, have gone from one extreme to the other. While it had been primarily a social state, nowadays it has completely forgotten this social element and it has not prepared in time all mechanisms which could make changes in life of its inhabitants easier.

    Janja Klasinc AIM