Slovakia has both state-sponsored health care and private doctors and hospitals. As the country continues its transition to a market economy, the wages for medical professionals have not increased significantly. The challenge for the immediate future is maintaining funding for the programs currently offered. The distribution system for medication and drugs sometimes breaks down when medical insurance institutions do not pay the pharmacists their entitlements. 
The huge factories built between the Second World War and the 1980s have contributed to environmental pollution, particularly in heavily industrialized regions. As a result, allergies and respiratory problems are common among factory workers and inhabitants of nearby towns. Recently, as part of the government's move to modernize the economy while protecting the environment, many old factories have been closed or converted. Air quality has improved greatly over the past 10 years. 

The life expectancy in Slovakia is 68 years for men, 76 years for women. The main causes of illness are respiratory diseases and high cholesterol. Smoking and heavy drinking, particularly of hard liquors, also lead to health problems.

  Did you know?
Pieštany, 35 kilometres north of Trnava on the river Váh, is the best-known spa in Slovakia. Visitors come from all over the world to take advantage of its warm springs.
Slovakia has 23 spas where people go to enjoy the benefits of hydrotherapy, electrotherapy, physiotherapy and massage. They drink the mineral waters and bathe in the thermal springs. Many of the spas were developed in the 19th century and became fashionable resorts with beautiful hotels and spa buildings. Several are located close to ski resorts. Modern complexes include fitness centres, tennis courts, athletic fields and hiking trails, as well as swimming pools and saunas. Doctors often recommend a visit to a spa to help cure disorders of the digestive, nervous and circulatory systems, skin or kidney problems, gynecological problems and even mental disorders. 
Medical research is carried out at universities, medical secondary schools, and more than 140 specialized institutes. In 1992, a Slovak Chamber of Physicians was established to oversee the development of new preventive health care programs.
  Did you know?
Before the 18th century, there were no medical schools in the entire Hungarian Empire. Doctors were usually trained in Germany or Italy. In 1770, the first medical school was established at Trnava University.