New Albanian Health Study2014-12-03
Opposite gender patterns compared to Sweden, with boys being most exposed to health-risk behaviors. That’s the situation among adolescents in Albania today.
- These patterns are reflecting a patriarchal society where parents keep their daughters at home in the evenings and girls are not allowed to interact with boys, says Gentiana Qirjako, doctor in public health at the University of Tirana.
Albania has recently joined the WHO-study Health Behaviour in School-Aged Children (HBSC). In November 2014 the Albanian team hosted a HBSC-network meeting in Tirana with participants from more than 20 countries.
Results from the last HBSC-survey conducted this year in Albania among 4898 11-, 13- and 15 years old adolescents show higher smoking prevalence among boys than girls. The most striking gender pattern concerns experiences of sexual relations. Among 15 years old adolescents one out five have had sexual intercourse; 95 percent of them being boys.
- This means that the boys have sexual relations with older partners being at risk for sexual abuse. In Albania sexual intercourse below the age of 18 is not allowed according to the law, says Gentiana who is the Principal Investigator for the HBSC-study in Albania.
As in Sweden the use of cannabis is a cause for concern also in Albania. The prevalence rate for cannabis use is higher among boys than girls, similar to Sweden, but the gender gap is much bigger. 10 per cent of 15 years old boys have ever used cannabis, while only 1.4 per cent of the girls report that they have used cannabis. The corresponding figures for Sweden are 7 per cent and 5 per cent respectively.
- This again points to a patriarchal Albanian society where girls, but not boys, are usually kept at home after the school hours.
The eating habits of young people in Albania have also been highlighted in the HBSC-study. Every second student doesn’t eat breakfast every day, and 6.7 per cent never eat breakfast.
- In Albanian young people, similar to elsewhere, breakfast was linked to a higher academic performance and other healthy lifestyle factors including physical exercise. Also, Albanian children who eat breakfast regularly (seven days a week) brush their teeth more frequently compared with their counterparts who do not eat breakfast at all.
As in Sweden, girls report subjective health complaints to a higher extent than boys.
- Overall, 50% of the Albanian schoolchildren aged 11-15 years perceive their health as very good compared with only 5% of those who perceive their health as bad. The older children reported a higher level of mental health disorders.
Albania has a population of about 3 million inhabitants. About 65 per cent of the population is Muslim. Albania is a republic, member of NATO and candidate country for membership of EU.
Link to the Albanian HBSC-report: