Singapore is 2nd best spot in Asia, 12th best in the world to die

An ailing elderly patient.
An ailing elderly patient.PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE- Singapore has been ranked the 12th best place to die in the world, up from 18th in 2010, a global ranking on palliative care has found.

The improvement was largely due to the drafting and implementation of a national strategy on palliative care in recent years, including the training of more health-care professionals to provide such care.

Similar to the first Quality of Death Index done five years ago, Britain topped the Economist Intelligence Unit's (EIU) Index, followed by Australia and New Zealand.

Taiwan is the leader among Asian territories and Singapore, second.

The index, which was commissioned by local philanthropic organisation Lien Foundation, ranked 80 countries on end-of-life care, up from just 40 countries in 2010.

It is scored by 20 indicators across five categories: palliative and health-care environment, human resources, affordability of care, quality of care and community engagement.

The EIU's 2010 index has sparked a series of policy debates over the provision of palliative care around the world. Since then, countries such as Finland, Japan and Sweden have established or updated guidelines, laws or national programmes.

In Singapore, the first index led to the Government tasking the Lien Centre to develop a coordinated national strategy for palliative care, which was released in 2012. New national guidelines on end-of-life care were also unveiled last year.

On top of the index, a new area that the report assesses is the demand for palliative care. Singapore was placed 23rd in this aspect, because of its greying population.

"Palliative care has to be a fundamental pillar of a humane healthcare system, guided by the duty to relieve suffering," said Mr Lee Poh Wah, Lien Foundation's chief executive.

"It is incumbent upon each of us to dig deeper and remove the barriers buried in our healthcare systems, institutions and cultural practies as well as demand greater accountability from our governments to improve care for the dying."