SHARE
COPY LINK

HEALTH

Spain’s healthcare ranks among top ten in world

Spain is ranked eighth in the world for its standard of healthcare, according to new research.

Spain's healthcare ranks among top ten in world
Photo: pressmaster/Depositphotos

The Healthcare Access and Quality Index (HAQ), published in the UK journal The Lancet on Thursday, studied the quality of healthcare in 195 countries by measuring mortality rates from causes that should not be fatal in the presence of effective medical care. 

The study analyzed death rates from 32 such diseases and conditions over the period 1990 to 2015 and found that nearly all countries saw their rating improve over the years.

Spain scored 90 points out of a maximum 100, placing it eighth in the world rankings, above the healthcare systems of Italy (89), France (88), Greece (87), Germany (86), the UK (85) and Portugal (85).

Andorra topped the Index with a score of 95, followed by Iceland (94) and then Switzerland in third place on 92 points.

Sweden and Norway made up the top five and 13 of the top 15 countries were in Western Europe, joined by Australia (6th) and Japan (11th).

The UK placed 30th and the US 35th.

At the bottom end of the table was Central African Republic on only 29 points.

The average score across the board improved from 40.7 points in 1990 to 53.7 in 2015, and 167 out of 195 countries “significantly increased” their HAQ rating during that time, said the study.

Inequalities had widened, however. The gap between the leading country and the last was 62 points in 1990 and 66 points in 2015.

The study also compared the HAQ scores to countries’ level of development on the so-called socio-demographic Index (SDI) and found that some, such as the US and South Africa, achieved a healthcare quality and access rating that was lower that what should be expected for a country of that level of development.

This is a “warning sign that heightened healthcare access and quality is not an inevitable product of increased development,” said the study.

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.

Some, however, achieved higher than expected levels of healthcare in 2015, including Peru, the Maldives and Ethiopia.

South Korea, Turkey, China also recorded large improvements over the years.

Spain scored the maximum points (100) in its treatment of diptheria, tetanus and measles and just one short of the perfect score when it came to maternity and respiratory treatment.

It’s lowest scores were in treatment for Hodgkins Limphoma (64 points), Leukemia (66), gallbladder disease (74) and skin cancer (74).

Spain has both public and private healthcare systems with free basic healthcare provided to those who contribute to the Spanish social security system and their families.

An estimated 19 percent of the population holds private health insurance, which can either be used as a supplement or an alternative to public care.

Spain is the global leader in organ donation, carrying out more transplants per capita than any other nation in the world and has the highest life expectancy in Europe.

READ MORE: How Spain became the world leader in organ transplants

Photo: Pierre-Philippe Marcou / AFP

HEALTH

How Spain could stamp out smoking

A fifth of Spain's population smokes on a daily basis. With such high numbers, here's how the country's pulmonologists propose to get smokers to quit.

Spain plans to get people to quit smoking
How Spain plans to get people to stop smoking. Photo: Khalil MAZRAAWI / AFP

For many outsiders, Spain is a nation of smokers. 

The stats from Spain’s Ministry of Health show that 23.3 percent of men smoke every day in Spain, compared with 16.4 percent of women.

For both males and females, the highest number of smokers are aged between 25 and 34, meaning that it’s the younger population who are smoking slightly more than the older generations. 

Spain’s pulmonologists are now pushing for the country’s tobacco laws to be tightened, claiming that reform is needed after the last legislation was approved a decade ago.

READ ALSO: Spain warns against smoking and vaping in public to avoid Covid infections

Why is smoking such a problem in Spain and what is being done about it?

The latest stats from the Spanish Ministry of Health show that lung cancer, often caused by smoking, is the third most frequently diagnosed cancer in Spain, with 29,549 cases diagnosed so far in 2021.

Given these high figures Spain’s Spanish Society of Pulmonology and Thoracic Surgery (SEPAR) has proposed five measures to help get people to stop smoking.

SEPAR points out that every time anti-smoking legislation is reformed and things for smokers made more difficult, the prevalence of smoking decreases.  

Smoking on terraces was banned in some regions during the pandemic. Photo: CRISTINA QUICLER / AFP
  • Price of tobacco to rise in 2022

The first point on their list is to raise the price of tobacco, which must cover all forms, from cigarettes to cigars, through to rolling tobacco, and electronic cigarettes.  

This first measure may soon become a reality as the Spanish government has already predicted that the price of tobacco will rise in 2022, after several years of stagnation.  

It is expected that tobacco will be responsible for almost a third of all special taxes received in 2022, equating to €21.8 billion.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), “cheap tobacco” in Spain guarantees “a percentage of smokers above 30 percent”.

In Spain, the price of a pack of tobacco is around €5, which is much cheaper than in other countries. In Australia for example, a pack of tobacco costs around €22, and in the United Kingdom and France, each pack of tobacco costs around €12.4 and €10.5, respectively.

According to Dr. Carlos A. Jiménez Ruiz, pulmonologist and president of the society, the current anti-smoking law has “some deficiencies” that need to be addressed in order to develop legislation that is more effective and efficient, especially with regard to the prevention of tobacco consumption in young people, but also in helping smokers to stop smoking and in protecting the health of non-smokers. 

READ ALSO – Maps: Which beaches in Spain have banned smoking?

Besides increasing the cost of tobacco SEPAR proposes four other measures to get Spain to quit smoking. These include:

  • Banning the consumption of tobacco in public spaces, even outdoors
    During the pandemic, several regions approved a regulation to prohibit smoking on terraces. SEPAR proposes that smoking be prohibited not only in spaces such as terraces but also in sports stadiums, beaches, parks and bullrings, and that fines should be imposed for those who do not comply.

  • Establish generic packaging
    SEPAR also wants Spain to introduce generic packaging, which means no logos and images of the tobacco companies. This measure has also proven to lower the sales of tobacco in countries where it has been implemented, such as Australia and New Zealand. According to the latest statistics from the Australian National Drug Strategy Household Survey around 11.6 percent of adults in Australia smoke daily. 

  • The regulation of other smoking devices
    Despite the fact that all products that burn tobacco such as cigarettes are already regulated, SEPAR believes that it is also necessary to regulate the sale, consumption and advertising of electronic cigarettes. This is because e-cigarettes have become particularly popular among young people. 

  • Promote help for those seeking to quit smoking
    The last proposal is the creation and development of special units in public health departments to help people to stop smoking and to put more funds towards these programmes. 

How does Spain compare with other European countries when it comes to smoking?

According to the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), while Spain does have a high number of smokers there are still several European countries that have more. The European countries with the highest number of smokers are Greece, Bulgaria and Hungary.

The latest European survey from 2020 shows that 42 percent of Greeks claim to be smokers, which is only slightly above Spain. 

On the other side, the European countries with the lowest number of smokers are mainly Nordic countries, such as Sweden, Finland, Iceland and Norway.

SHOW COMMENTS