Spain world’s healthiest country, India 120th

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Spain has emerged world’s healthiest nation, making a leap of five places to relegate Italy to the second position. In the list of 169 nations, India has slipped from its 119 position in 2107 to settle a rung below at 120.

Believe it or not! In South Asia, Sri Lanka (66), Bangladesh (91) and Nepal (110) continued to be healthier than India, while  rank well above India, out of the 169 countries that were evaluated. India slipped from 119 in the 2017 ranking to 120. Pakistan is 124 and Afghanistan 153.

The 2019 edition of the Bloomberg Healthiest Country Index, which ranks 169 economies according to factors that contribute to overall health, Spain was placed sixth in the previous gauge.

China rose three places to 52nd. Life expectancy in China is on track to surpass the US by 2040, according to the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation, stated the Bloomberg analysis.

The index grades nations based on variables including life expectancy while imposing penalties on risks such as tobacco use and obesity. It also takes into consideration environmental factors including access to clean water and sanitation.

Spain has the highest life expectancy at birth among European Union nations, and trails only Japan and Switzerland globally, United Nations data show. Spain by 2040 is forecast to have the highest lifespan, at almost 86 years, followed by Japan, Singapore and Switzerland, according to the University of Washington’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation.

“Primary care is essentially provided by public providers, specialized family doctors and staff nurses, who provide preventive services to children, women and elderly patients, and acute and chronic care,” according to the European Observatory on Health Systems and Policies 2018 review of Spain, noting a decline the past decade in cardiovascular diseases and deaths from cancer.

Researchers say eating habits may provide clues to health levels enjoyed by Spain and Italy, as a “Mediterranean diet, supplemented with extra-virgin olive oil or nuts, had a lower rate of major cardiovascular events than those assigned to a reduced-fat diet,” according to a study led by the University of Navarra Medical School.

Meanwhile in North America, Canada’s 16th-place ranking far surpassed the U.S. and Mexico, both of which dropped slightly to 35th and 53rd. Life expectancy in the U.S. has been trending lower due to deaths from drug overdoses and suicides.

Cuba placed five spots above the U.S., making it the only nation not classified as “high income” by the World Bank to be ranked that high. One reason for the island nation’s success may be its emphasis on preventative care over the U.S. focus on diagnosing and treating illness, the American Bar Association Health Law Section said in a report last year after vising Cuba.

South Korea improved seven spots to 17th while China, home to 1.4 billion people, rose three places to 52nd. Life expectancy in China is on track to surpass the U.S. by 2040, according to the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation.

Sub-Saharan economies accounted for 27 of the 30 unhealthiest nations in the ranking. Haiti, Afghanistan and Yemen were the others. Mauritius was the healthiest in Sub-Sahara, placing 74th globally as it had the lowest death rate by communicable diseases in a region still marred by infectious mortality.

US which spends the highest per person on health, $11,000, slipped by one rank to 35 and its life expectancy had been dipping the last three years, while UK which spends $4,000 per person climbed from 23rd rank in 2017 to 19th this time. Cuba too improved it ranking from 31 to 30, well above the US and the only country not classified as “high income” by the World Bank to be ranked that high. The countries that have performed the best are those with universal healthcare where over 70% of healthcare spending is done by the government. These include Iceland, Japan, Switzerland, Sweden, Australia, Singapore and Norway in that order in the top ten.

Japan improved its ranking from 7th to 4th while Singapore, the only other Asian nation in the top ten, dropped sharply from 4th rank to 8th. Spain and Italy spend much less on healthcare (roughly $3500 per person) than many of the European countries and yet managed to top the list. India is estimated to spend barely $240 per person and most of it is spend by people from their own resources with little support from the government.