Israel in ‘relatively good position’ in OECD health report

The Health Ministry commented that “Israel is situated in a good place compared to other OECD countries, and the report’s details will be studied in depth and acted upon.”

November 6, 2015 06:48
3 minute read.
doctors oversee patient

Doctors oversee patient. (photo credit: DANI MACHLIS/BGU)

In the Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development Health at a Glance document issued on Thursday, Israel earned a mixed report card – sometimes doing better and sometimes worse than the OECD average and in some cases sharing negative trends in all the advanced countries.

The pace of improvement in medical care, for example, is too slow to cope with the aging of the population and the growth of chronic diseases in all OECD countries, including Israel; this results in many unnecessary deaths, according to the report on 34 member nations from North and South America to Europe and the Asia-Pacific.

The report also found that while all of the 34 countries – including Israel – managed to improve in coping with lifestyle problems such as obesity and excessive consumption of alcohol, not a single one consistently performs “at the top of the country ranking on key indicators of quality of care, even those that spend the most on health. There is room for improvement in all countries in the prevention, early diagnosis and treatment of different health problems,” the OECD said.

The Health Ministry commented that “Israel is situated in a good place compared to other OECD countries, and the report’s details will be studied in depth and acted upon.”

The US, for example, is “doing well in providing acute care for people having a heart attack or a stroke and preventing them from dying, but is not performing well in preventing avoidable hospital admissions for people with chronic conditions such as asthma and diabetes.

The reverse is true in Portugal, Spain and Switzerland, which have relatively low rates of hospital admissions for certain chronic conditions, but relatively high rates of mortality for patients admitted to hospital for a heart attack or stroke. Finland and Sweden do relatively well in saving the lives of people following diagnosis for cervical, breast or colorectal cancer, but the survival rates for these types of cancer is lower in Chile, Poland, the Czech Republic, the United Kingdom and Ireland.”

In Israel, the hospitalization rate for cardiac insufficiency – which is preventable – is relatively low compared to the average OECD, but hospitalization in Israel for asthma chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD, almost always from smoking – which is also preventable – is high compared to the OECD average.

At the same time, the death rate of people aged 45 and older who were hospitalized for up to 30 days with an ischemic stroke is lower than the OECD average. Survival from breast cancer in Israel is higher than the OECD average, and the rate of mammography screening among Israeli women over 50 is higher than the average. The death rate from breast cancer here is higher than the OECD average, but there has been an improvement in the last decade.

Early diagnosis of cervical and colorectal cancer in Israel is more common than average, and the death rate from these malignancies is, to its credit, lower than in most OECD nations.

Israel is also performing better in hip replacement in hospitals soon after hip fractures occur in patients over 65 – more than 85 percent of the patients get their surgery within 48 hours. In addition, flu vaccinations in the over- 65 population have risen to 61%, compared to the 48% average rate in the OECD, but vaccination of younger people remains relatively low.

Private spending on prescription- drug copayments by Israeli residents is 15% of national health expenditures, compared to the OECD average of 20% – but the costs here continue to rise, and drugs are expected to be a bigger burden on the economy due to the aging of the population and higher costs of drugs, the report said.

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