The difference between a healthy population that experiences longer life expectancies and the converse is a country’s healthcare system. Citizens who live longer would have a longer timeframe to contribute back into the economy.

Thus, it is imperative that countries invest substantially into their healthcare system. Here, we analyse six of the world’s worst hospital systems.

1. Venezuela

President Nicholas Maduro once said that the country’s healthcare system is the second best in the world. However, since their economy dropped following the freefall of the price of oil, the steep inflation has translated to the exponential rise in prices of medical equipments, medications, and medical bills.

There are no functional X-ray or dialysis machines in one hospital, and patients often have to wait for days for the right equipment to be delivered. Incubators are broken and smashed, doctors often have to pump air manually, and stocks of antibiotics, soap, and papers are depleted. The only resources and antibiotics available are from the black market - but often at exorbitant prices.

The hospitals are also suffering a shortage of clean water – surgeons do not have enough water to clean the operating tables – as they are soiled with blood between surgeries and hands are washed with bottles of carbonated water. Hospitals experience severe overcrowding and frequent power cuts as well.

2. Syria

The ongoing civil war in Syria has left nearly 300,000 innocent civilians without access to life-saving medical care. Approximately 373 of the chemical and bombing attacks on 265 medical facilities throughout the country have taken the lives of at least 750 medical personnel.

It has also caused a huge supply constrain for medical supplies, resources and workers; destroyed medical equipment and forced injured patients to leave prematurely in case of subsequent bombings.

The most recent attack has rendered a hospital with food sufficient to sustain a team of 35 for only 15 days, and two days of diesel to power the remaining medical equipments salvaged from the bombings. After the fuel has been depleted, the hospital will just be a first aid centre.

To highlight the state of severity, a man who has suffered a bullet to the stomach was classified as low-priority.

3. Myanmar

Political reforms have brought hope that the country’s medical system would improve with better budget allocations. However only a mere MMK757.4 billion was spent on healthcare, as compared to MMK2.61 trillion spent on defence.

Such underfunding in healthcare has massive repercussions – life expectancy in Myanmar is 56 years, two in five children under the age of five are moderately stunted and they account for 50% of all malaria-related deaths in Southeast Asia. Poor diagnosis and treatment, lack of medical equipment, and counterfeit anti-malarial medication has only worsened the situation.

At rural health centres, a drastic resource shortage is experienced - lacking basic supplies, medication and equipment. Major illnesses are only treatable in the city centres, and treatment is usually too expensive for rural citizens.

4. Pakistan

Recent reports of a newborn being consumed by rodents at Kishtwar district hospital in Kashmir, is not an isolated incident. It is just a grim reminder of the sordid state of healthcare services in Kashmir. In the first five months of 2012, Kashmir's only paediatric care hospital reported 500 neonatal and infant deaths.

The ongoing political turmoil in Kashmir is to blame as resources are being channelled towards security and defence instead of education and healthcare, leading to the lack resources, manpower and infrastructure in hospital wards.

Patients are often asked to share beddings, intensive care units are over-exhausted, and doctors are on 36-hour shifts. Hospital corridors and wards are also highly unhygienic, placing thousands of patients' lives at risk.

5. United States

The American healthcare system has been thought as the best in the world. However, in the 2014 Commonwealth Fund Survey, the US was ranked the worst amongst ten industrialised nations - for the fifth time.

Factors such as the quality of care, access to doctors, and equity throughout the country were taken into account. It is most expensive health care system in the world, but the ranked lowest in terms of “efficiency, equity and outcomes”. The high expenditure of Obamacare has also not accounted to an equal level of quality of care and service.

The report stated that there was a need to implement universal health insurance across socioeconomic groups to ensure equity for all. There are still high levels of uninsured Americans and the promise of affordability still remains elusive with high deductibles, and cost-prohibitive insurance plans.

6. United Kingdom

A first-world country, the UK is expected to have world-class hospitals. However, a report by the UK Care Quality Commission (CQC) of Basildon Hospital stated that “filthy conditions, with brown running water, mouldy bathrooms and soiled furniture and commodes" were found. Toys were also temporarily stored on top of equipment to clean bedpans and trays used to carry sterile equipment were dirty. The hospital was told it was failing to protect patients from infections.

The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) for UK’s healthcare service, National Health System (NHS), also concluded that the nation has an “outstandingly poor” record of preventing ill health and that the NHS struggles to get even the "basics" right.

Read more:
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A look at healthcare systems across Asia