Spatial variation of male alcohol-related mortality in Belarus and Lithuania
European Journal of Public Health, 26:1, 95–101 (2016)
Background: Numerous studies have addressed the problem of hazardous alcohol consumption, alcohol-related causes of death and their relationship to persisting excess male mortality in the countries of the former USSR. Yet relatively little is known about the geographical patterns of alcohol-related mortality within these countries and the cross-border continuities of such patterns. This study aims at identifying the spatial distribution and the cross-border patterns of adult male mortality from alcohol poisonings and liver cirrhosis in Belarus and Lithuania. Methods: We use cause-specific mortality data for 2003–2007. We employ spatial econometric techniques to detect ‘hot spots’ of alcohol-related mortality across the combined territory of the two countries. Results: Specific patterns associated with extremely high rates of mortality from alcohol poisoning can be observed in Belarus, particularly in the areas bordering Russia and Lithuania. Meanwhile, patterns of alcohol-induced liver disease dominate in Lithuania, and continue across the border from eastern Lithuania into north-western Belarus. Conclusions: The districts located along the Belarusian–Lithuanian border appear to be especially problematic, as they suffer from an enormous burden of alcohol consumption. The situation is particularly severe on the Belarusian side, where there are extremely high levels of mortality from both alcohol poisoning and liver cirrhosis. These areas should be considered primary targets for anti-alcohol policies.
Keywords: Belarus, Lithuania, adult mortality, alcoholism, spatial analysis