Ranked: countries with the best healthcare in the world
Singapore has the best healthcare in the world according to a recent report from the Legatum Institute. We take a look at who else performed well
20th May 2021
If you’re one of the millions of people working remotely or following a career as a digital nomad, then access to quality healthcare will undoubtedly be one of the most important factors in your choice of destination.
According to the Legatum Institute, a UK-based think tank and charity focused on lifting people out of poverty, Singapore has the best healthcare in the world, followed by Japan, South Korea, Switzerland and Iceland.
Now in its 14th year, the institute’s Prosperity Index ranks countries with regards to prosperity and development based on 12 sub-indexes, or ‘pillars’, one of which is health.
The Prosperity Index sources data from a number of organisations including UNICEF, the World Health Organisation, the International Labour Organization and the United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS to assess the quality of healthcare systems in 167 countries and territories.
It measures the extent to which people are healthy and can access the necessary services to maintain good health including treatment, care systems, preventative measures, provisions for mental health illness, risk factors and mortality rates.
best healthcare in the world
The following 10 countries have been assessed as providing the best healthcare for their population.
The Legatum Institute draws on years of data to evaluate which countries have improved the most. A number of factors contribute to improving healthcare in a country.
These factors include:
- Behavioural Risk Factors
- Preventative Interventions
- Care Systems
- Mental Health
- Physical Health
One obvious factor is longevity (life expectancy). The life expectancy of people in Zimbabwe has increased by more than 15 years in the last 10 years, more than any other country.
Healthcare during a pandemic
The planet has seen near-universal progress in health over the past decade, with all but 12 countries seeing an improvement during that time.
In particular, expansions in immunisation programmes have resulted in a greater proportion of the global population being inoculated against life-threatening diseases.
This, combined with antenatal care now covering over 90% of women across the globe, has led to the improvement observed in preventative care.
However, these improvements came under threat as the health of many nations were put under considerable strain due to the pandemic.
Initially, a particular concern was how nations with poorer healthcare systems would cope with the virus. However, we now know that the virus disproportionately affects the elderly and those with underlying health conditions.
This demographic is generally more commonly found in more developed countries. For example, the median age in Italy is 47.3, whereas the median age across Africa is around 20. Similarly, the obesity rate in the USA stands at
over 40%, compared to less than 10% in Africa.
As such, it is generally the health systems of more developed nations that have been in greater danger of being overwhelmed.
Types of healthcare
Countries around the globe take vastly different approaches to providing healthcare to their population. Many developed countries have universal government-funded healthcare (also known as single-payer healthcare).
Another popular option is to use a universal public insurance system where the government usually withholds part of workers’ wages which goes towards healthcare insurance. This system is used by China, France, Japan and South Korea among others.
Several nations, including the Netherlands and Switzerland, use a universal private health insurance system. Low-income citizens who cannot afford insurance are then subsidised by the government.
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In this case, some citizens have private health insurance, some may receive subsidised public healthcare, while some are not insured at all.
best healthcare in the world: complete rankings
The health pillar of Legatum’s report measures a country’s performance in three areas: basic physical and mental health, health infrastructure and preventative care.
NB: Some countries and territories have been excluded due to insufficient data.
|74||Trinidad & Tobago||73.7|
|88||Bosnia & Herz.||71.5|
|105||São Tomé & Príncipe||68.4|
|145||Papua New Guinea||54.0|
|166||Central African Rep.||36.1|
The latest Legatum Prosperity Index can be downloaded here.