Abstract

A new report released by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) shows that, on average, only 3% of total health expenditure in OECD countries goes toward population-wide prevention and public health programs, while most of the spending is focused on "sick care." Canadian highlights from the OECD report include:
  • Public health and prevention: Canadian children were immunized against measles in 2002 at roughly the same rate (95%) as children in other OECD countries (94% median in 2003). However, when it came to diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis (DTP), the percentage of Canadian children immunized in 1998 (84%) was lower than that of the OECD median (96% in 2000). The elderly, on the other hand, were more likely to get a flu shot in Canada than in most OECD countries.
  • Mortality rates by disease: The mortality rate due to cardiovascular disease was lower in Canada (182 per 100,000 population) than in most OECD countries (2001 and 2002 rates). Only Japan (130), France (153) and Spain (176) had lower rates per 100,000 population.
  • Apparent food consumption: Canada's sweet tooth is second only to that of the United States. Canadians consumed more sugar per capita (an estimated 60 kilograms) in 2002 than did those living in any of the 30 OECD countries, except for the U.S. (an estimated 72 kilograms).
  • Life expectancy at birth: Canada ranked eighth among the 30 OECD countries for life expectancy at birth, at 79.7 years in 2002. Japan had the highest life expectancy, at 81.8 in 2003. However, when looking at life expectancy by gender, Canadian men ranked fifth among OECD countries, while Canadian women ranked eighth.
  • Number of physicians: In Canada, there are fewer physicians per capita than in most other OECD countries. In 2003, Canada had 2.1 physicians per 1,000 population. The Canadian rate is similar to those of Japan, the United Kingdom and New Zealand, but below the OECD median of 3.1 per 1,000.


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