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Spotlight on Global Healthcare

Summary

This global economy paper focuses on the healthcare systems of eight countries in the world. The featured countries are Great Britain, Canada, Switzerland, Taiwan, China, Cuba, Brazil, and Russia.

Healthcare System of Great Britain

Among the key issues surrounding the healthcare system in Great Britain, three things are certain and these would include the following observations. First of all, like other developed countries, Great Britain is struggling with increasing healthcare costs as a result of the ever-changing medical demands and standards in the world. Following these demands, the government of Great Britain is implementing several programs and interventions that are aimed at taking the country’s healthcare services to the next level. Lastly, the nation has joined other developed countries in instituting reforms that will ensure that all citizens gain access to quality and improved healthcare services under minimal costs.

Great Britain has a national health system that offers universal healthcare coverage to the people (Grosios, Gahan, & Burbidge, 2010). Healthcare in the country is funded by the public using revenues collected from taxation. According to current global health reports, healthcare spending in the country increases by £43 billion every five years. There is also a private healthcare sector that provides healthcare through private health insurance. The private system matches the services offered by the National Health Service, but it gives citizens access to quicker, high-quality healthcare services.

Great Britain’s healthcare system is one of the most efficient in the world today in terms of quality, equity, performance, and accessibility. However, the biggest problem with the system is in the waiting time that patients have to endure before receiving medical attention to various categories of illnesses. Some of these categories include cancer screening and treatment, open heart surgeries, and kidney dialysis, among other special cases. The issue of awaiting time has consistently raised many concerns among the citizens, thus influencing the government to impose a maximum waiting period of at least 4 months before a patient can receive medical attention from any healthcare facility.

Canadian Healthcare System

The Canadian healthcare system is comprised of a group of health insurance programs. The system is funded by the public to offer medical coverage to all citizens in the country. The healthcare system operates under several guidelines that have been set by the federal government. Through the system, people are provided with both preventive care and medical treatment for various health problems.

The provision of healthcare services in Canada is a right for all citizens, regardless of their income, living standards, and the types of illnesses they are suffering from, among other things (Woolhandler, Campbell, & Himmelstein, 2003). This right is exercised through the Canadian Health Act that was passed in 1984 to ensure that all Canadian citizens have access to good and affordable healthcare. In this regard, every citizen is covered by a regional health insurance plan specific to the place where they reside. As it would be observed, there are common specific features for each of the regional health insurance plans.

The Canadian healthcare system has always been a subject of great political controversy with some of the big concerns revolving around the inefficiencies of the system. There have also been calls for reforms in the private sector to make it equivalent to that of other developed countries. These concerns about the current healthcare system have divided the Canadian citizens into two main opinion categories. While some think that the system is doing better in its current form, others have expressed concerns that there is a need to end the free healthcare system as one way of improving healthcare services in the country.

These issues have continued to trigger many worries among the citizens, with the biggest concern being that privatisation can contribute to inequality in the sector, where certain care services are likely to become a preserve of the rich in the society.

Healthcare in Switzerland

Switzerland provides quality healthcare services to all its citizens. The current healthcare system in the country was implemented in 1996 under the Health Insurance Law of 1994. Over the years, the system has been modified and expanded to include a basic package that aims to make healthcare services better for all citizens. Every adult individual in Switzerland is expected to buy basic health insurance covering various treatments as it is stated in the Swiss Federal Law on Health Insurance. This type of package is very extensive and it is divided into three main areas of healthcare services that include Maternity insurance, Sickness insurance, and emergency or accident insurance.

This new law was not only intended to define the level of healthcare that can be given to a patient under various circumstances, but it will also encourage competition among different insurers, thus helping to improve healthcare standards and lower the cost of premiums. Apart from the basic package, Swiss citizens can buy supplemental insurance coverage to fund any extra medical services they might require.

The law requires private insurers in Switzerland to provide health coverage to all people in the country, regardless of their age and medical history (Allegranzi et al., 2011). However, citizens are expected to purchase health insurance to cater for additional medical and healthcare services. The most significant aspect of the private insurance policy is that it enables citizens to gain access to medical coverage of some treatment categories that are not catered for by compulsory insurance.

The Swiss healthcare system is ranked among the best healthcare systems in the world presently, even though the country’s health expenditures per capita is the second-highest worldwide. However, Switzerland is a wealthy nation with a stable economy, and in that case, has no issues dealing with the heavy financial burden of its people who are ever willing to spend more money on matters regarding healthcare.

The role of the citizens in catering for their healthcare services through the purchase of private health insurance premiums is observed to have paid off in Switzerland. This observation is evident in the fact that Switzerland’s expenditure on health matters is the lowest in the developed world. The Swiss healthcare system is currently undergoing a significant phase of transition with the current reforms being focused on improved medical costs and quality performance.

Healthcare System in Taiwan

Taiwan is well known around the world for its sound public health system which has continued to serve as a backbone for the country’s economic success. The country adopted a national health insurance system in 1995. This program is administered by the government through the Ministry of Health and Welfare of the Executive Yuan. As it would be observed, the country has only one payer system for healthcare services, which is the National Health Insurance. NHI provides equal access to medical care for all people in the country.

Even though the National Health Insurance system has amassed massive praises globally in terms of comprehensive population coverage, good and timely accessibility, relatively low costs, and short waiting times, it is fraught with various problems. Some of the common issues affecting the healthcare system include a weak government role, information disparity, variable quality of medical care, and heightening financial pressure (Wu, Majeed, & Kuo, 2010). Among the problems highlighted above, the financial imbalance remains the biggest crisis that has persistently affected the healthcare system.

There is a need for improvements in some key sectors of the National Health Insurance system to make healthcare services better. These changes will ensure that Taiwanese citizens, who have consistently been exposed to various problems and crises, eventually gain access to adequate health care services. To effectively address these issues, the Taiwan Health Reform Foundation has come up with several areas of concern that must be taken into consideration when evaluating the healthcare system. These advocacies would be placed in three categories that include health care system, information transparency, and healthcare quality.

The first category of the healthcare system would comprise aspects such as medical practices, call for the Fiscal supervision of healthcare matters, and healthcare staff shortage. Information transparency would feature accessibility of medical records which has always proved to be a big challenge for Taiwan citizens, medicine bag improvement, drug prescription reform, and citizens’ rights on the surgery consent forms. Finally, there is the aspect of healthcare quality which features things such as an expansion of hospital shopping alley, improvement of dialysis treatment, and improvement of the paediatric drug. All these advocacies are aimed at making the Taiwan healthcare system better soon.

China’s Healthcare System

China is among the leading nations in matters regarding economic potential and development in the modern world. The country enjoys a more stable economy than any other country globally. As a matter of fact, the living standards of the Chinese have improved greatly over the last several years as a result of this stability. However, despite the many changes that have been witnessed in the country following recent economic developments, China’s healthcare system has not yet reached the level that befits the country’s current status as a giant global economy. As a matter of fact, China still lags behind other developed countries in the world in healthcare-related matters.

The Chinese healthcare system is currently under the leadership of the National Health and Family Planning Commission. However, healthcare governance and management is decentralized among health Bureaus in various autonomous regions. China’s healthcare system has been focused on ensuring that all citizens gain access to affordable and quality health care (Blumenthal & Hsiao, 2005). Under the new healthcare system, the government of China is planning to offer basic medical care to all citizens by the year 2020. To achieve this objective, the country has come up with a healthcare reform plan comprising several key components of development that include the creation of a rural-cooperative health system and the expansion of basic health insurance programs.

On top of these components, the Chinese government has consistently shown great concern towards the healthcare system through several strategies. For example, the government has shown great commitment to addressing various problems affecting the current healthcare system, such as the issue of drug quality and abuse of intravenous drugs. More importantly, the government has joined hands with other key stakeholders in the country to establish mechanisms that are aimed at evaluating various issues affecting the healthcare system (Yip et al., 2012). All these reform plans are aimed at laying the groundwork for a more solid healthcare system in China.

Cuban Healthcare System

The Cuban government considers healthcare to be a fundamental right for all humans, as it is described in the country’s Constitution. In this regard, the country has taken significant developmental measures to make its healthcare system universal and free for all citizens without any restrictions. The Cuban healthcare system has received international recognition owing to its numerous achievements and accomplishments. Cubans tend to believe that human health can only be improved through innovative approaches. This perception clearly explains the reason why research has become a key component of the country’s healthcare system. Currently, the country is said to have great socialised medicine which is much greater compared to that of other developed countries put together.

Cuba mainly relies on a preventive-based medical system which has proved to be more effective compared to the curative model in addressing various illnesses affecting the country’s population. The country’s emphasis on research and preventive medicine has contributed to great developments in the health sector. For instance, the country has succeeded in developing its vaccines against several life-threatening illnesses. Cuba is also known for its significant role in producing a vaccine for meningococcal meningitis. Cuba’s great achievement in the healthcare sector is evident in the fact that, together with France, the island plays a major role in the development of the vaccine pentavalent.

Another interesting aspect of the Cuban healthcare system is that it extends its services across the international borders to serve other countries that require urgent medical attention. For instance, the system, under the directive of the Cuban government has been sending medical experts to third world countries to assist in taking care of various medical problems. Currently, about 30,000 medical professionals from the country are serving in over 50 countries across the world (Kingma, 2007). Despite this huge number of Cuban medical specialists serving abroad, the country is still among the few countries with the highest doctor per patient ratio in the world today.

Brazilian Healthcare System

Despite the vast problems facing the Brazilian government today, it has ensured that healthcare provision remains a fundamental right to all citizens. Subsequent reforms have been made to the country’s healthcare department over the years since 1970 when the first promising amendments were made to the sector. As it would be observed, primary healthcare is a major pillar of the country’s healthcare system which guarantees quality care to the country’s over 190 million citizens. The Brazilian national healthcare system is managed through several taxes received from the three levels of government which include the federal, the state, and the municipal (Paim, Travassos, Almeida, Bahia, & Macinko, 2011).

The primary healthcare system caters for about 70 percent of the country’s population through various medical interventions that include preventing illnesses, tackling serious illnesses, promoting health, and treating the sick. To carry out its objectives to society more effectively, the national healthcare system works through a number of health initiatives. Some of these initiatives are the deployment of auxiliary medical practitioners to serve citizens in poverty-stricken regions and the idea of the Family Health Programme that was established in 1994. The latter serves as the main primary health care strategy in the country, and it aims to offer maximum quality medical care to people in their residence and healthcare facilities.

Despite the many efforts applied by the Brazilian national healthcare system in ensuring that people have access to quality care, the system has not been lucky to elude various challenges that have threatened to paralyse health care services in the country. Some of these challenges include lack of financial resources, increased risk of noncommunicable diseases, and the burden of infectious illnesses, among other aspects.

Long waiting time is also another serious problem affecting the Brazilian national health system nowadays. This outcome is influenced by the fact that public hospitals offer free health services to the people, thus attracting more people compared to the ones in the private sector that offer excellent medical facilities, but which are more expensive. There is also the problem of sufficient health care personnel in the country. All these are key issues that the Brazilian government should address effectively if it must achieve its unwavering desire of taking maximum care of its population.

Russian Healthcare System

The provision of healthcare is a primarily social function of the Russian government. This provision would comprise several aspects of care such as prevention of diseases, medical care delivery, and improvement of health. Basic medical care in Russia is offered for free to all citizens. Currently, Russia boasts the highest number of medical professionals and healthcare facilities on a per capita basis globally (Rese, Balabanova, Danishevski, McKee & Sheaff, 2005). However, despite these achievements, the quality of healthcare services in the country is relatively lower than that of other advanced nations in the world, probably as a result of the social, economic, and lifestyle factors that have affected the country in the past.

The Russian healthcare system is currently in a miserable state. This means that there is a serious shortage of quality healthcare in most parts of the country. Everybody who has a particular interest in the country’s healthcare system is ever complaining about the system’s poor state and how this has continued to deter quality health care services to the Russian people. Even though quality medical treatment can be found in some parts of the country, this remains a preserve of the upper-middle class and the wealthy who can afford it (Kuhlmann & Saks, 2008).

Among other issues, financial problem is the biggest challenge affecting the Russian healthcare system currently. Health expenditure in Russia is equivalent to 3.5 percent of the country’s GDP and this is a relatively higher amount compared to what other advanced countries are receiving for the same need. This, however, is understandable considering the country’s large surface area and its high population, among other countless issues that continue to make life extremely difficult for the Russians. To improve the health care system, the Russian government is planning to employ several strategies that would include the elimination of the free health care system and a cut of the national budget on healthcare.

References

Allegranzi, B., Nejad, S., Combescure, C., Graafmans, W., Attar, H., Donaldson, L., & Pittet, D. (2011). Burden of endemic health-care-associated infection in developing countries: systematic review and meta-analysis. The Lancet, 377(97), 228-241.

Blumenthal, D., & Hsiao, W. (2005). Privatization and its discontents—the evolving Chinese health care system. New England Journal of Medicine, 353(11), 116-119.

Grosios, K., Gahan, P. B., & Burbidge, J. (2010). Overview of healthcare in the UK. The EPMA journal, 1(4), 529-534.

Kingma, M. (2007). Nurses on the move: a global overview. Health Services Research42(3p2), 128-131.

Kuhlmann, E., & Saks, M. (Eds.). (2008). Rethinking professional governance: International directions in healthcare. Policy Press: United Kingdom.

Paim, J., Travassos, C., Almeida, C., Bahia, L., & Macinko, J. (2011). The Brazilian health system: history, advances, and challenges. The Lancet, 377(97), 177-182.

Rese, A., Balabanova, D., Danishevski, K., McKee, M., & Sheaff, R. (2005). Implementing general practice in Russia: getting beyond the first steps. BMJ331(750), 204-207.

Woolhandler, S., Campbell, T., & Himmelstein, D. U. (2003). Costs of health care administration in the United States and Canada. New England Journal of Medicine, 349(8), 768-775.

Wu, T. Y., Majeed, A., & Kuo, K. N. (2010). An overview of the healthcare system in Taiwan. Lond J Prim Care, 3(15), 115-119.

Yip, W. C. M., Hsiao, W. C., Chen, W., Hu, S., Ma, J., & Maynard, A. (2012). Early appraisal of China’s huge and complex health-care reforms. The Lancet, 379(18), 83-89.

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