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Belgium is healthiest nation

Out of all the nations in the world, the Belgians are the healthiest! This is the finding of a study carried out by a British market analysis firm. This was a surprise to the British analysts from WMRC (World Markets Research Center). It also comes as a pleasant surprise to the inhabitants of our country.

Out of the 175 nations that were covered in WMRC’s latest survey, which concerned the quality of and access to health care around the world (The Health of Nations Survey), Belgium was ranked first, just ahead of Iceland and the Netherlands. Is this simply a statistical fluke? Or a set of figures that do not mean anything in real life? The authors of the study defend their findings.

“To carry out this survey, we worked at three different levels,” explains Michelle Wilkinson-Rowe, of WMRC. “We began by compiling demographic data such as the average life expectancy of the population, and maternal and infant mortality rates. This data came from official bodies, such as for example the World Health Organization (WHO). Next we gathered more economically oriented data from national banks and the World Bank. We completed our sample by including figures issued by national and international statistical institutes. This was in order to find out the number of doctors in each country, but also to have more socially based data such as level of education or access to certain basic necessities, such as clean drinking water.

“Finally, our analysts worked on the data in collaboration with regional specialists. They were also interested in the level of public and private spending on health care, its accessibility, the availability of medical drugs and so on. It was on the basis of this analysis that we drew up our league table.”

Not only did Belgium find itself at the head of this table, but it is also at the head of a group of three small European countries. Nevertheless, in the eyes of the specialist firm, this was not a coincidence. In general terms, they noticed that the fifteen top countries were all European (and therefore rich). They also concluded that although the first three nations in the league table were all of modest size, it is precisely their relatively small population that makes it possible for the authorities to act more flexibly. The authorities are consequently better able to meet their citizens’ health care requirements, and to implement new policies more quickly and maintain them financially. These high scores are also explained by the level of accessibility (both geographical and economic, via health insurance) to health care in these countries.

Reported by
28 March 2002

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