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Healthcare / Social trends

These are the countries that have the greatest trust in their health services

By Andrew Sansom 11 Dec 2020 0

As health services around the world battle COVID-19, public trust in them is growing, writes Victoria Masterson for the World Economic Forum.

A survey by Ipsos of more than 20,000 adults across 27 countries has found rising levels of satisfaction and trust in health services.

“Despite the coronavirus pandemic putting huge strain on healthcare systems of countries around the world, we find more people worldwide giving positive ratings of the health services they have access to than two years ago,” Ipsos says of its ‘Global Health Service Monitor 2020’.

Half of people surveyed believe they will receive the best treatment from their country’s healthcare services. This is up from 41 per cent in the last survey in 2018.

Healthcare perceptions

Trust is highest in Malaysia (75 per cent), Australia (74 per cent) and China (74 per cent) and lowest in Hungary (16 per cent), Russia (16 per cent) and Poland (18 per cent).

Compared with the last survey, the greatest increases in trust in healthcare are in China (up 28 points on the 2018 study), Saudi Arabia (+21) and South Korea (+18).

In terms of quality, healthcare services are rated most highly by the public in Australia (81 per cent), the Netherlands (76 per cent) and Great Britain (74 per cent).

“The three countries where people are most likely to rate their healthcare as ‘poor’ are Poland (53 per cent), Hungary (42 per cent) and Peru (40 per cent),” Ipsos says. “We see the greatest increases in quality ratings for healthcare in Saudi Arabia (+19), China (+14), Brazil and Sweden (both +13).”

Systemic challenges

The biggest perceived challenges in healthcare systems relate to access to treatment, long waiting times ,and the system being overstretched and understaffed. Cost is also a consideration in many countries.

“Across all countries, 55 per cent say their healthcare system is overstretched,” Ipsos says. “This is a problem regardless of how highly countries rate their healthcare system.”

Great Britain, Hungary, Sweden, Spain and Peru most agree that the healthcare system in their county is overstretched, while 62 per cent of those surveyed agree that waiting times to see a doctor are too long.

On perceived health inequalities, 59 per cent globally say that many people cannot afford good healthcare in their country. This rises to more than eight in 10 in South Africa, Peru, Chile, Hungary, Brazil, Poland and Argentina.

Coronavirus, unsurprisingly, ranks as the top health concern for most respondents: 72 per cent. This is almost double the 37 per cent who select cancer as the top health problem.

“Mental health and stress come next as the most important health problems selected by the public, with Sweden, Chile and Australia most concerned about mental health,” Ipsos says. Under-35s and women are most likely to highlight mental health as a prominent issue.

“Scores for many illnesses have dropped this year owing to coronavirus, but mental health is consistent with 2018’s 27 per cent,” Ipsos adds.

Stress comes fourth as the biggest health concern, with people in South Korea, Japan and Sweden most likely to single it out. Obesity has fallen from second place in the ranking of health problems in 2018 to fifth in the 2020 survey.

Mixed outlook

On vaccinations against infectious diseases, almost two-thirds (64 per cent) across 27 countries think these should be compulsory, while 15 per cent disagree.

“Agreement is highest in Malaysia, Argentina and Saudi Arabia, whereas those in Russia, the US, France and Poland are less convinced,” Ipsos says.

Public intent to vaccinate against Covid-19, if a vaccination were available, is at 73 per cent across 15 countries.

Looking ahead, one in three people expect healthcare in their country to improve. Half as many – 16 per cent – believe it will get worse.

“Countries with more established healthcare systems tend to be more pessimistic,” Ipsos says.

This article was originally published on the World Economic Forum website and has been republished in accordance with a Creative Commons licence.

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