Switzerland has been rated third in a global ranking of the access to and the quality of healthcare systems – a report that shows large gaps between the best and worst ranked countries.
The survey, published online on Thursday in the medical journal The Lancetexternal link, looked at healthcare quality in 195 countries. At the top of the list, using data for 2015, was tiny Andorra, followed by Iceland and Switzerland.
Swiss neighbours were placed 12th (Italy), 14th (Austria), 15th (France) and 20th (Germany).
Among the top 20 in the list, all except Australia (6) and Japan (11) were from Western Europe.
The United States placed 35th and the United Kingdom 30th. The lowest ranked county was the Central African Republic.
The researchers’ report, called the Healthcare Access and Quality Index, is based on death rates for 32 diseases and injuries that could be avoided or effectively treated with proper medical care. These include tuberculosis, several forms of treatable cancer and cardiovascular disease, for example.
The international team of researchers analysed mortality rates and summarised this data as a number on a scale from zero to 100. It also tracked each nation’s progress compared to the benchmark year of 1990. Virtually all showed some improvement.
"Despite improvements in healthcare quality and access over 25 years, inequality between the best and worst performing countries has grown," said Christopher Murray, director of the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington, and leader of a consortium of hundreds of contributing experts.
The standard of primary care was lower in many nations than expected given levels of wealth and development, he added.
Nations highlighted here include India, Indonesia and South Africa. The United States was the biggest offender among the rich nations.
High cost of care
The Swiss health care system is regularly ranked highly in global surveys, but comes in for criticism over the cost (for which it is also ranked highly in global surveys).
Switzerland spends 11% of its gross domestic product (GDP) on healthcare, behind the US (17%), Netherlands, France, Germany and Canada.
The Swiss government says it is planning to increase efforts to examine the use of certain medical treatments and technologies to reduce health costs.