In March 2016, the UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon officially established a High-level Commission on Health Employment and Economic Growth. The Commission is co-chaired by Mr François Hollande, President of France, and Mr Jacob Zuma, President of South Africa, and co-vice-chaired by Dr. Margaret Chan (WHO), Mr. Guy Ryder (ILO) and Mr. Angel Gurría (OECD).
Read about our groundbreaking report on inequality - In it Together: Why less inequality benefits all - as well as our recent work on tackling harmful alcohol use. You can also find here all our work on employment, migration, health and social policy over the last few months, as well as highlights from this summer's OECD Forum which addressed the theme "Investing in the future: people, planet, prosperity”.
This new OECD series aims to highlight the latest data in selected countries, to explain their health care systems and to provide key information in a clear and concise way. Each country snapshot highlights the most pertinent issues, be it smoking, obesity, surgical interventions, consumption of antibiotics, physicians density, etc., with the help of key statistics and are followed by brief policy recommendations.
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New Zealand has a generally high performing health system, which provides universal coverage and publicly funded access to a large set of core health services. Similar to other high-income countries, New Zealand faces the challenges posed by an ageing population, health inequities, as well as the growing burden of non-communicable and chronic diseases.
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The Slovak Republic is struggling to attain the same health outcomes as its Western European Union neighbours. With 5.6% government expenditure on health as share of GDP and moderate private health spending, the country’s financial resources for health are on par with neighbouring Central European countries and countries of comparable wealth.
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The health system in Spain stands out for its impressive life gains during the past decades. Across OECD countries, Spain currently ranks second in terms of life expectancy at birth and at 65 years old, only behind Japan. However, factors such as a high share of out of pocket spending or a relatively low level of health professionals continue to impair higher health system performance.
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Despite financial strains, Portugal has shown a great level of commitment towards improving the quality and efficiency of its health system while maintaining a universal public system. However, although progress has been achieved, certain areas demand further scrutiny such as access to health care services – especially among the most vulnerable population – quality of care, healthier lifestyles and the long-term care system.
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Latvia’s health system broadly delivers effective care to the population within a context of significantly fewer resources compared to most OECD countries. However, there are important challenges to maintain and improve the performance of its health system.
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Japan continues to enjoy strong health outcomes and the longest life expectancies in the OECD. Its health spending has risen more quickly than in other OECD countries in recent years, partly due to population ageing. Within tight fiscal constraints, Japan must ensure the financial sustainability of its health system while orienting it toward an increasingly older population.
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Although the annual growth rate in health spending in Iceland is now close to zero, health expenditure per capita remains largely above the OECD average. Iceland reports good health outcomes and tobacco and alcohol consumption are relatively low. Increasing obesity rates, problems in access to care and poor quality of hospital care, however, are important challenges threatening the health of the Icelandic population.