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Table of contents

General information

Latest international publications

Statistical data used

Key facts and figures

Additional national statistics

Office(s) in charge of data collection

Overview of main stakeholders

Overview of policies

Specific sources


General information

COUNTRY: Estonia
KNOWLEDGE BROKER: Maria Filina-Kossatšova,  Analyst, Health Care Services Department, the Estonian Health Board

SEPEN thanks the knowledge brokers for their contribution in checking and completing the country-information. SEPEN is accountable for the content of the country profiles.

Latest international publications

Statistical data used

Type of information Source Year Remarks
Table 1: Health workforce stock and replacement OECD 2018 Age characteristics of the nursing stock are not reported.
Figure 1: Mobility level in absolute numbers OECD 2018 Only immigration data for OECD countries are available. The data produced are therefore incomplete. Not all OECD-countries register the country of origin of incoming health professionals and some do not register incoming health professionals at all. Emigration data are based on immigration numbers in other OECD-countries, as emigration as such is not registered nor reported.
Figure 2a: Number of practicing physicians per 1000 inhabitants Eurostat 2018 Figure 2a presents regional distribution of physicians. Maps are formatted according to the NUTS classification obtained from Eurostat or recent national data provided by the key country informants. The national average is derived from the OECD/Eurostat databases, and the EU average from the “Health at a Glance: Europe” report published in November 2020.
Figure 2b: Number of practicing nurses and midwives per 1000 inhabitants  Eurostat 2018 Figure 2b presents regional distrubution of nursing and midwifery. Maps are formatted according to the NUTS classification obtained from Eurostat or recent national data provided by the key country informants. The national average is derived from the OECD/Eurostat databases, and the EU average from the “Health at a Glance: Europe” report published in November 2020.

Key facts and figures

OECD and Eurostat statistics

Statistic Number Data Year
Total population 1 324 820 2017
Life expectancy at birth 78,5 2018

Source: Eurostat

  Licensed to practice Practising Professionally active  
Statistic Number Per 1000 inhabitants Number Per 1000 inhabitants Number Per 1000 inhabitants Data year
Physicians 6 787 5,13 4 605 3,48 Not reported Not reported 2018
> Generalist Medical Practitioner Not reported Not reported 1 097 0,83 Not reported Not reported 2018
> Specialist Medical Practitioner Not reported Not reported 3 508 2,65 Not reported Not reported 2018
Nurses 13 786 10,43 8 317 6,29 Not reported Not reported 2018
Midwives 972 0,74 456 0,34 Not reported Not reported 2018
Dentists 1 823 1,38 1 277 0,97 Not reported Not reported 2018
Pharmacists 1 441 1,09 955 0,72 Not reported Not reported 2018
Physiotherapists Not reported Not reported 496 0,38 Not reported Not reported 2018

Source: OECD

Additional national statistics

Not reported

Office(s) in charge of data collection

Name Role Website
Ministry of the Interior The population register is a database consolidating personal data on Estonian citizens, citizens of the European Union who have registered their residence in Estonia, and aliens who have been granted residence permits or right of residence in Estonia. The register is maintained and developed by the Ministry of the Interior being the chief administrator of the register.
Estonian Education Information System (EHIS) under the Ministry of Education and Research The Estonian Education Information System (EHIS) is a state database that brings together all the information related to the education in Estonia.
Health Board Health care providers are healthcare professionals or legal persons providing health services, who have applied to the Health Board for the activity license for provision of healthcare services.
National Institute for Health Development The Health Statistics and Health Research Database maintains and publishes statistics and survey results about health and health-related issues in Estonia.

Data are gathered by the National Institute for Health Development, medical registries of the Institute, the Estonian Health Board, the Estonian State Agency of Medicines and other institutions. The database is constantly updated with new data.

Overview of main stakeholders

Public representatives

Name Role Website
Health Board Licensing, registration and supervision on quality of care. The Board also provides data on health suppliers.
Eesti Haigekassa The main task of the Health Insurance Fund is to organize national health insurance to provide insured people with access to the necessary healthcare services, medicines, medical equipment and cash benefits. It provides data on health suppliers.
Ministry of Social Affairs Responsible for the management and supervision of the healthcare system and development of health policy. The Ministry runs and manages healthcare planning process.
National Institute for Health Development The National Institute for Health Development is a government established research and development body, responsible for collecting, connecting and providing reliable information from a multitude of national sources, related to the health of the Estonian population.
Estonian Hospital Association The Estonian Hospitals Association is a voluntary body, responsible for representing the common interests in healthcare matters and arranging the cooperation between hospitals.

The Association acts according to the Statute and in line with its mission. The Association represents members, develops health economics and quality management, coordinates the activities of the Association and exchange of experiences, compiles working groups to solve common problems of the members, expresses opinions on health care legislation and draft acts, collects data about health care, and oversees the counseling of members.

It is one of the main actors in the planning process.

Health profession representatives

Name Role Website
Estonian Medical Association The Estonian Medical Association (EAL) is the largest medical association in Estonia, which advocates the development and reputation of the medical profession, protects the interests of doctors, promotes medical culture and represents the views of doctors in the development of health policy. It provides the views of doctors in shaping health workforce policy
Estonian Nurses Association As a professional organization, the Estonian Nurses Association initiates legislative and regulatory changes to keep practice and theory (legislative base) up-to-date and draws on European practice to jointly respond to urgent demands, and facilitate the improvement of the nursing profession in Estonia.

As a trade union, EEL seeks to facilitate good working conditions, including the support of employees’ mental health and a fair workload.
Estonian Midwives Association The organisation’s primary goal is to develop the midwifery profession, and to harmonize midwifery training, attitudes, practice and science. The EAU operates as an interdisciplinary team to promote the sustainability of the health system.

Academic representatives

Name Role Website
Faculty of Medicine of University of Tartu The Faculty is involved in the annual planning of training places and of residency vacancies of medical doctors.
Tallinn Health Care College Tallinn Health Care College is an internationally recognized state-run professional higher education institution, offering training in the field of health and well-being.
Tartu Health Care College Main actors in Academic and Research Structure are the Study Departments that organise and develop the College teaching process. There are 4 Study Departments, including the Nursing and Midwifery Department, the 

Radiography and Biomedical Laboratory Science Department, the Physiotherapy and Environmental Health Department, and the Vocational Education Department.

Overview of policies

Manage shortages and maldistribution of skills

Original name Tervishoiutöötajate riikliku registri põhimäärus
Name in English Statutes of the National Register of Health Workers

(official English name : Estonian Health Care Professionals Register)

Short description

The  Estonian Health Care Professionals Register is maintained for the registration of healthcare professionals in order to promote and supervise the state protection of healthcare users and the provision of healthcare by persons having the required qualifications, as well as for the statutory management and organization of healthcare and health statistics.

Publication date 15 March 2019
Link to full text


Original name Terviseameti register
Name in english Public Health Registry and Family Doctor’s
Short description Maintains lists of national health records and family doctors that are necessary to establish the legitimacy of health or pharmacy services.
Publication date Updated regularly
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Original name Perearsti nõuandeliin 1220
Name in English Family physician advisory line providing personalized counseling
Short description

Patients can request personalized counseling services when calling in on the family physician advisory line. With the caller’s permission the physician on the advisory line can look up the caller’s health records to give a more precise advice.

Publication date 13 July 2017
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Original name E-konsultatsioon
Name in English Family physician may consult specialists electronically
Short description This service enables family physicians to quickly and conveniently consult with a specialist to clarify their patient’s diagnosis and prescribe treatment.
Publication date 13 March 2019
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Improving performance

Original name Ravikvaliteedi aruanded
Name in English 2017 report on Overview of the Quality of Healthcare in the Estonian Health Care System
Short description

The Health Insurance Fund has consolidated the results of three different quality indicators into a single report. The results include feedback to the Hospital Network Development Plan on the availability of treatment, the treatment process, and the effectiveness of treatment. The indicators developed are in cooperation with the World Bank to measure the integration of treatment activities and the results of 13 clinical indicators.

Publication date 21 June 2017
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Address outflow mobility

Original name Töötamise registreerimine
Name in English Employment Register
Short description

Employments of all natural persons must be recorded in the employment register. Through their working, a tax liability will be created in Estonia, irrespective of the form of a contract. 

Registration of employment within the framework of practical training is not required, unless an employment contract or a contract under the law of obligations is concluded with a trainee for performing the work.

Publication date Updated regularly 
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Original name Eriarsti lähtetoetus
Name in English Beginner’s allowance for medical specialists
Short description The objective of the beginner’s allowance is to motivate beginner medical specialists, including family doctors, to commence work in places in Estonia where it has been proven to be difficult in practice to find qualified doctors.
Publication date 1 June 2012 
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Education, enrolment and recruitment

Original name Ülikooliseadus
Name in English Universities Act
Short description Defines the selection and fees / grants for Master students, and provides support for studies abroad.
Publication date 12 January 1995
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Original name Tartu Ülikooli seadus
Name in English University of Tartu Act
Short description Defines state-funded residency places. 
Publication date 1 January 2008
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Education staff & infrastructure

Original name Physician shortage poses challenges to health care
Name in English Physician shortage poses challenges to health care
Short description Analysis of the possible causes for the lack of paediatricians, family physicians and clinical psychologists in different Estonian towns.
Publication date 8 October 2019
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Original name Medicine in English (6 years)
Name in English Medicine in English (6 years)
Short description International 6-year programme in Medicine is designed to train highly skilled doctors who are able to provide top quality medical assistance consistent with the modern achievements in medicine.
Publication date Updated regularly
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Continuous professional development (CPD)

Original name Tervishoiuteenuste kvaliteedi tagamise nõuded
Name in English Health Care Services Quality Control Requirements
Short description

Requires healthcare providers to ensure the annual training of healthcare professionals for the development and improvement of their competence. Healthcare providers must prepare a training plan for healthcare professionals for each calendar year. In the training plan, providers must provide each health professional with at least 60 hours of professional training.

Publication date 15 December 2004
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Regulation of private sector

Original name Ravimiseadus
Name in English Medicinal Products Act
Short description According to the Act, only pharmacists and assistant pharmacists registered by the Heath Board are allowed to provide pharmacy services in a pharmacy or relevant structural units.
Publication date 1 January 2020
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Working conditions

Original name Kollektiivleping
Name in English Collective agreements
Short description Collective agreements are signed between physicians and other health professionals’ associations and the Estonian Hospitals Association. In 2019, the Estonian Health Insurance Fund allocated 40 million Euros for the implementation of the collective agreement, and in 2020 this amount will reach 48 million.
Publication date 8 October 2019
Link to full text


Not reported

Specific sources

List of sources specific to this country:


Last updated: 10 October 2020


The country fiches are produced under the EU Health Programme 2014-2020 under a service contract with the Consumers, Health, Agriculture and Food Executive Agency (Chafea) acting under the mandate from the European Commission. The information and views set out in the country sheets are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the official opinion of the Commission/Executive Agency. The Commission/Executive Agency does not guarantee the accuracy of the data included in this study.

Neither the Commission/Executive Agency nor any person acting on the Commission’s/Executive Agency’s behalf may be held responsible for the use which may be made of the information contained therein.