Switzerland ranked third with 92 points 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, followed by Iceland (94), according to the latest report by the British medical journal The Lancet.
At the bottom of the table was the Central African Republic, scoring just 29 on the overall index, while UK ranked 30th and US 35th with an overall score of 81, tied with Estonia and Montenegro.
The study examines healthcare trends from 195 countries and territories from 1990 to 2015. Making comparisons across populations enables understanding of the changing health challenges facing people across the world in the 21st century, say researchers who performed the study.
Scores were based on estimates from the annual Global Burden of Diseases, Injuries, and Risk Factors study (GBD), a systematic, scientific effort to quantify the magnitude of health loss from all major diseases, injuries, and risk factors by age, sex, and population. With more than 2,300 collaborators in 132 countries and 3 non-sovereign locations, GBD examines 300-plus diseases and injuries.
In addition, data were extracted from the most recent GBD update and evaluated using a Socio-demographic Index (SDI) based on rates of education, fertility, and income. SDI goes beyond the historical "developed" versus "developing" nations. Previous assessments of health quality and access were limited primarily to high-income countries, particularly in Western Europe.
The findings suggest, between 1990 and 2015, nearly all countries and territories saw their HAQ Index values improve, but the difference between the highest and lowest observed HAQ Index was larger in 2015 than in 1990, ranging from 28.6 to 94.6.
The paper does offer some favorable signs of improvement in health care access and quality. Since 1990, several countries have achieved progress that met or surpassed levels reached by other nations of similar development. These countries included Turkey, Peru, South Korea, the Maldives, Niger, Jordan, and several Western European nations such as Switzerland, Spain, and France.
US lead author Dr Christopher Murray, director of the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington, said: "What we have found about health care access and quality is disturbing.
"Having a strong economy does not guarantee good health care. Having great medical technology doesn't either. We know this because people are not getting the care that should be expected for diseases with established treatments."
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