Healthiest Countries
Healthiest Countries

What makes a country prosperous? Is it economic wealth? Is it government efficiency? Could it be a booming business environment?

For others, a prosperous nation is more than its GDP or GNP. It is also about having free, happy, and healthy citizens.

In Good Health

According to the London-based registered charity, the Legatum Institute, prosperity is not just about accumulation. It is more of a transformative journey that captures the richness of a truly prosperous life.

This life is reflected in a citizen’s wealth and wellbeing, assessed across nine pillars, namely: Business Environment, Economic Quality, Education, Governance, Health, Natural Environment, Personal Freedom, Safety and Security, and Social Capital.

These nine pillars have their own scores based on each variable’s distance to frontier scores multiplied by their weights and summed to generate the total score that will determine the nation’s ranking per pillar.

In the 2018 Legatum Prosperity Index, out of 149 countries, there are those that stood out from the rest when it comes to being the healthiest. The health pillar assesses a country’s performance in basic mental and physical health, health infrastructure, and preventive care.

These are the Top 5 countries on the planet that are considered to be in the best of health:

1. Singapore

With a population of 5.8million (as of February 2019) and a life expectancy of 83.4 years, this island city-state has earned its stars as being the healthiest country on the planet.

According to the Legatum Prosperity Index, Singapore performed best on its Health and Economic Quality pillars while it needs to improve on its Personal Freedom pillar. Compared to 2017 figures, the country progressed in Social Capital, moving 11 steps forward. However, it fell 55 places down when it came to the Natural Environment criterion.

Overall, Singapore ranks 21st in the Prosperity Index, moving up two places since its inclusion in 2007.

2. Luxembourg

Surrounded by Belgium, France, and Germany, Luxembourg claimed the 2nd spot as the world’s healthiest country. This tiny European nation has a population of just over half a million (549, 537 to be exact, according to Worldometer as of February 19, 2019).

This relatively small urban nation scores lowest on its Education pillar but pulls its weight on the Health and Economic Quality pillars. Luxembourg also dropped by eight places in the Safety and Security arena, while moving four places forward in the Social Capital criterion.

Luxembourg ranks 12th on the overall Prosperity Index, moving up one place from its former rank.

3. Japan

The Land of the Rising Sun has scored high on its Health and Safety and Security pillars in the 2018 Prosperity Index. Its population of 1.26 million generally enjoy a good state of health that ranks them 3rd in the world’s healthiest countries list.

While they got their lowest score in the Social Capital criterion and missed a step in the Natural Environment pillar, Japan still posted a positive change by two places in the Education segment.

This East Asian island country ranks 23rd out of the 149 participating nations in Legatum’s overall Prosperity Index for 2018.

4. Switzerland

This Central European alpine country clinched fourth place in the world’s healthiest nations list.

Surrounded by nature in the form of lakes, high peaks, and lush green villages, Switzerland’s 8.58 million population is as rosy as can be. Aside from being in the upper five of the Health pillar roster, it also scores high in the Economic Quality and Education areas. It posted a 9-point lag from last year’s figures, but the Swiss also propelled forward by 10 paces in the Natural Environment segment.

Overall, Switzerland ranks 4th as the world’s most prosperous country based on the 2018 Prosperity Index reported by Legatum.

5. Qatar

This peninsular Arab country is the only Middle Eastern nation that placed in the Top 5 List of healthiest countries in the world. Placing 5th despite their relatively new healthcare system, Qatar poses positive promise when it comes to its health sector. It also ranks high in the Economic Quality pillar.

The country also experienced a leap in the Education arena, posting a seven-step rise in the charts. It ranks 46th on the overall Prosperity Index for 2018.

Global Call to Action

While these countries prioritize progressive healthcare practices and the environment, some countries still lag behind. According to the 2018 Key Findings, there is a continued rise in the global prosperity ratings since its inception in 2007. However, this ascent is not shared globally.

Countries such as the Central African Republic, Chad, and Guinea are still wallowing in the pits of health-related problems. These countries are also ranked among the lowest in the overall Prosperity Index. Access to clean water and sanitation, healthcare spending, and availability of resources are some of the most significant factors that contribute to poor health.

Moreover, civil unrest and violent conflicts are also main drivers of poverty and malnutrition in these countries. For instance, As of November 2018, UNICEF reported that 1.5 million children in the Central African Republic (CAR) are in need of humanitarian aid, with over 43,000 children below five years old projected to face a highly elevated risk of death due to severe acute malnutrition (SAM).

In Chad, climate change, environmental degradation, and population growth are challenges that add to low development and high poverty. The World Health Organization (WHO) Health Cluster is helping to tackle issues of malnutrition, high maternal mortality, outbreaks, sexual and reproductive health, and HIV that affects about 1.9 million people.

Now, more than ever, the global community needs to support the lower ranking countries in fighting socially and economically-crippling issues, especially climate change.

As the Top 5 countries discussed here rank high in the health segment, as well as other countries in terms of the Global Prosperity Index overall, the quest to uplift the rest of humanity continues.