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20 May 2017, 12:31 | Rodolfo Wallace
First-ever global study finds massive health care inequity
Experts analysed data on death rates for 32 diseases that can be avoided or treated with proper medical care from the last 25 years to draw up the Healthcare Access and Quality (HAQ) Index.
"What we have found about health care access and quality is disturbing", said Dr. Christopher Murray, senior author of the study and Director of the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) at the University of Washington.
Canada excelled in preventing deaths from appendicitis, tuberculosis, and vaccine-preventable illnesses. These are lower respiratory infections, neonatal disorders, non-melanoma skin cancer, Hodgkin's lymphoma, ischemic heart disease, hypertensive heart disease, diabetes, chronic kidney disease and the adverse effects of medical treatment itself.
The Swiss health care system is regularly ranked highly in global surveys, but comes in for criticism over the cost (for which it is also ranked highly in global surveys).
The top 10 in the overall index were Andorra (95), Iceland (94), Switzerland (92), Sweden (90), Norway (90), Australia (90), Finland (90), Spain (90), the Netherlands (90) and Luxembourg (89.3).
Dr. Murray says the study found huge disparities both between countries, and within them.
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According to the health group, health "quality" can be approximated by measuring mortality rates from causes that should not be fatal in the presence of effective medical care. "We know this because people are not getting the care that should be expected for diseases with established treatments".
With the exceptions of Afghanistan, Haiti and Yemen, the 30 countries at the bottom of the ranking were all in sub-Saharan Africa, with the Central African Republic suffering the worst standards of all.
Between 1990 and 2015, the countries that made the biggest improvements in delivering healthcare included South Korea, Turkey, Peru, China and the Maldives.
"The gap between what the United Kingdom achieves and what it would be expected to is also wider than in other western European countries".
Taiwan has been ranked 45 in a global list of countries assessed for health care availability and quality (HAQ), while the tiny European nation of Andorra topped the list with an overall score of 95 out of 100, according to the latest report by the British medical journal The Lancet published on May 18.
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