Singapore in top ranks of global health study

People waiting for their turns at a waiting room at Tampines Polyclinic.
People waiting for their turns at a waiting room at Tampines Polyclinic. PHOTO: ST FILE

Singapore was a top scorer on global health-related indicators, alongside Iceland and Sweden, in a report published this week in the Lancet medical journal.

The report looks at countries' performance in 33 health-related indicators that are part of the United Nations' Sustainable Development Goals for 2030.

It seeks to establish a basis for monitoring global progress towards these UN goals and is not meant as an international ranking or index. Nonetheless, Singapore emerged near the top out of 188 countries, scoring 85 out of a possible 100 along with Iceland and Sweden.

The Lancet report draws upon data from the Global Burden Of Diseases, Injuries And Risk Factors Study, an effort by more than 1,870 collaborators from 124 countries and three territories.

Singapore scored a perfect 100 - indicating the highest level of safety - on indicators such as deaths related to natural disasters, stunted growth in children, malaria and household air pollution.

Among all countries, Singapore was the best performer in the number of potential years of life lost through illness, disability or early death - the disability-adjusted life-year rate - because of occupational causes, per 100,000 people.

But Singapore fared poorly in indicators such as the incidence of hepatitis B and air quality as measured by levels of PM2.5 particles, scoring significantly lower than most other countries in the top 20.

Singapore also did badly in deaths attributable to unsafe water, sanitation and hygiene, with a score of 62. Other top countries generally had scores in the 80s or higher. This was despite Singapore's perfect scores for water and sanitation, and a score of 88 for hygiene.

According to separate figures from the World Health Organisation, Singapore's mortality rate attributed to unsafe water, sanitation and hygiene services was 0.1 per 100,000 people in 2012. This lagged behind various European countries including Iceland, which had rates below 0.1, but was on a par with countries such as Japan and Austria, and better than Sweden's rate of 1.1.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 24, 2016, with the headline 'S'pore in top ranks of global health study'. Print Edition | Subscribe