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19 May 2017, 07:04 | Todd Saunders
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"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.
Furthermore, he added in a statement, the standard of primary care was lower in many nations than expected given levels of wealth and development.
The study was published today in the worldwide medical journal The Lancet, and represents the first effort to assess access and quality of services in 195 countries from 1990 to 2015.
The Swiss government says it is planning to increase efforts to examine the use of certain medical treatments and technologies to reduce health costs. Andorra was the country that came first overall.
The study analyzed death rates from 32 such diseases and conditions over the period 1990 to 2015 and found that almost all countries saw their rating improve over the years.
Some of the causes of death identified among the 32 are TB‚ lower and upper respiratory infections‚ tetanus‚ measles‚ a number of common cancers‚ as well as appendicitis and the adverse effects of medical treatment. The lowest ranked county was the Central African Republic.
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As an approximate measure of citizens' access to quality health care, an global team of researchers analyzed mortality rates for 32 diseases and injuries that are typically not fatal when effective medical care is available.
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. Previous assessments of health quality and access were limited primarily to high-income countries, particularly in Western Europe.
The biggest underachievers in Asia included Indonesia, the Philippines, India and tiny Brunei, while in Africa it was Botswana, South Africa and Lesotho that had the most room for improvement.
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). Nonetheless, many countries in these regions, including China (score: 74) and Ethiopia (score: 44), have seen sizeable gains since 1990.
If every country had reached the maximum HAQ for their level of development, the average result would have been 73.8 in 2015, 20 points higher than what was actually achieved, "a clear indicator of untapped potential for healthcare improvement worldwide", said the study.
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