The OECD Reviews of Public Health provide in-depth analysis and policy recommendations to strengthen priority areas of countries’ public health systems, highlighting best practice examples that allow learning from shared experiences, and the spreading of innovative approaches.
Topics covered within this series of health reviews include unhealthy diets and obesity, preventing harmful alcohol use, health checks and preventive screening, responding to public health emergencies, and more.
Health care systems across OECD are increasingly under pressure from social changes and emerging new health challenges, which demand a strong public health response:
- Demographical changes and an ageing population
Demographical changes and an ageing population have an impact on national social and healthcare systems, and elderly people are more likely to have multiple comorbidities and have higher healthcare costs;
- Chronic non-communicable diseases
Chronic non-communicable diseases (NCDs) are the major challenge for OECD healthcare systems. Changes in the population lifestyle combined with socio-demographic changes have determined an epidemiological shift that made NCDs the first cause of death and burden of diseases. While some risk factors, such as smoking, have been declining, others, for example unhealthy diets and sedentary lifestyles, have been spreading widely fuelling the incidence of NCDs;
- Mental health and neurological disorders,
Mental health and neurological disorders, including Alzheimer’s disease and dementia among older people, have also increased significantly, particularly due to a longer life expectancy;
- Communicable diseases
Communicable diseases are re-emerging and present new challenges. Many of the health improvements that medicine has secured in the last century were largely based on our ability to prevent and cure communicable diseases. Now, many infectious diseases that we thought under control reappear in different and more aggressive forms as, for example, antibiotic-resistant infections and viral outbreaks such as Ebola or swine flu;
- Public health emergencies
Public health emergencies, including environmental disasters, are events with highly detrimental and long lasting effects on societies – Public Health Systems can play a key role in enhancing the resilience of national health systems in the aftermath of catastrophic events.
These challenges are transformative and cannot be addressed solely through treatment; they require a well-coordinated, whole system approach, within a strong public health system. Stronger public health systems, ready to tackle these and other challenges, are important for both individuals and society as a whole. They can help reduce the burden of avoidable diseases and avoidable deaths, and can contribute to stronger and sustainable healthcare systems by keeping people healthy and away from hospitals, which in turn contributes to greater economic growth. Strong public health systems need to include a full spectrum of initiatives, competencies and actions to reach their central objective, which is to maintain and improve the health of the population and to contribute to strong and resilient healthcare systems. The OECD Reviews of Public Health are designed to help countries to strengthen their health systems to anticipate, prevent, and respond to public health risks and challenges in the most effective way possible.
COUNTRY REVIEWS AND LESSONS LEARNT
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