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Ministry Criticises WHO Report

Media Release

13 August 2001

Ministry Criticises WHO Report

THE Ministry of Health has criticised a World Health Organization Report which ranks New Zealand's health system as the 80th most efficient in the world.

In the same report, out of the 191 countries studied, New Zealand ranked 31 in terms of health outcomes, and 26 on overall goal attainment.

Deputy Director General of Sector Policy, Dr GiIlian Durham said that Ministry officials, and health officials from around the world have taken issue with the methodology employed by WHO in preparing this report. These concerns were discussed with, and acknowledged by WHO at meeting in Manila last month.

"WHO has agreed to work with officials to ensure the data and methodology used were appropriate. That work is now in progress and we are working with Statistics New Zealand to ensure the information is correct.

The WHO report uses five factors to arrive at its rating of "overall gain attainment" where New Zealand ranked 26 out of 191. These factors are:

health outcomes (as measured by disability-adjusted life expectancy) - NZ rank 31 the distribution of good health across the population - NZ rank 16 the responsiveness of the system - NZ rank 22-23 the distribution of responsiveness - NZ rank 3-38 fairness in financial contribution - NZ rank 23-25.

In cases where WHO can not distinguish between countries, it assigned a ranking within a band.

Dr Durham said the efficiency rating for New Zealand is a compilation of this information and educational attainment which is included in the calculations.

"Under WHO's controversial methodology, a very high education ranking was taken to indicate the potential to achieve exceptional health outcomes. Whilst New Zealand ranked second behind the US on average years of schooling, this unfortunately led to WHO judging our health system to be inefficient."

Dr Durham said other countries share our scepticism about this methodology and have also expressed their concerns.

The Ministry of Health publication Our Health, Our Future: The Health of New Zealanders 1999 provides more detail on the population health status.

END

For more information contact: Selina Gentry, Media Advisor, ph: 04-496-2483 or 025-277 5411 http://www.moh.govt.nz/media.html


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