Here is a look at five countries with the most promising healthcare systems.
1. South KoreaThough the country may be placed 19th on the Legatum Prosperity Index, it is well on top in terms of life expectancy. In a recently published study, researchers predicted that the average life expectancy will reach beyond 90 years for South Korean women by 2030. South Korean men will also live longer, with an average life expectancy predicted to be at 84.1 years.
Lead study author James Bennett says, “Korea got a lot of things right when it comes to health care access, which is why the increases in longevity have been so widespread. [South Korea] has had economic improvements, which has led to improved nutrition and access to health care and medical technology across the whole population.”
Globally, the country has an edge in the treatment of skin diseases, both in techniques and technology, and has shown remarkable improvements in infant mortality and cardiovascular diseases (particularly stroke), as well as lower incidence of stomach cancers.
2. CanadaCanadian patients diagnosed with cystic fibrosis will be able to live 10 years longer than Americans, according to a new study. In examining the medical records of nearly 6,000 Canadians and 45,500 Americans suffering from cystic fibrosis between 1990 and 2013, researchers found the median life span of Canadian patients with cystic fibrosis was 50.9 years and 40.6 years for American patients.
"It seems people with no insurance have the worst outcomes compared to Canadians,” says lead researcher Dr. Anne L. Stephenson. "That was the largest difference seen."
As Canada provides universal coverage for healthcare, Stephenson believes that the country’s nutrition and transplant policy, as well as health-insurance systems are instrumental in keeping mortality rates low.
John Wallenburg, chief scientific officer of Cystic Fibrosis Canada, sees the need for international collaboration. “The fight against cystic fibrosis is a global one. We are proud that Canadians with this disease are living longer than ever before.”
3. LuxembourgIn 2016, Luxembourg was ranked No. 1 in “basic physical and mental health, health infrastructure, and preventative care” on the Legatum Prosperity Index. Luxembourg has one of the best healthcare systems in Europe and affords basic medical coverage for every citizen who has the right to choose his/her doctor, specialist and hospital.
Based on the fundamental principles of compulsory health insurance, free choice of provider for patients and compulsory provider compliance with the fixed set of fees for services, the country has an abundance of quality medical and emergency facilities with well-qualified healthcare professionals.
4. GermanyWith a culture centred on healthy living, the country has the oldest universal healthcare system in Europe and arguably the most sustainable too. There is also comparatively shorter waiting time for patients to undergo elective surgery or diagnostic tests such as MRIs. In fact, any German who needs after-hours care can connect with a doctor via a phone call to a central hotline.
Most German residents belong to a sickness fund, Germany's version of a "public” health insurance system, which insures all citizens. Those with higher incomes can either join a sickness fund themselves or opt out and instead buy private insurance.
Perhaps, the most impressive feature of the German healthcare system is the affordable accessibility to mental health care. According to data from the World Health Organisation, the country has about 30 outpatient mental health facilities for every 100,000 people and one mental hospital for every 300,000 patients, which is a lot higher compared to many other countries.
5. PortugalWith a small population of about 10 million people, Portugal’s healthcare system is ranked the 9th best in Europe and 12th in the world. The Portuguese, who are among the world’s healthiest people, have one of the highest life expectancies in the European Union.
The country boasts of the lowest rate of heart disease in the world, and this is often traced to a diet rich in garlic, olive oil and red wine.
Besides, Portugal may be a safe haven for mothers and newborns as it has witnessed a significant drop in its infant mortality rate since the 1980s. According to the World Bank data, compared to 24 deaths out of 1,000 newborns, the number has now reduced to around 3 deaths per 1,000 newborns. MIMS
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