GLOBSEC Healthcare Readiness Index 2021


GLOBSEC introduces its new Healthcare Readiness Index mapping the preparedness of countries to face health crises. The pandemic has reminded us that the healthcare sector, with its broad implications for global trade, industry, and services, is critical infrastructure at its core. Countries that spend the most on healthcare and enjoy the most advanced infrastructure, paradoxically, have not necessarily topped the pandemic management rankings though. Smaller countries, such as Iceland and the Nordic countries, that boast flexible systems and place an emphasis on public health and early access to innovations, nonetheless, have fared better.

Pandemic management may have, to some extent, been merely a matter of fortune. According to this view, Italy and Spain, among the first countries to be impacted by covid-19 surges, suffered a stroke of bad luck. Despite being regarded as among the healthiest nations in the EU, without proper guidelines and knowledge about the virus, they could not adequately respond to the first outbreaks. Yet the countries experiencing the most optimal and worst pandemic outcomes, in fact, primarily share similar traits.

Countries that performed most poorly in the EU are largely from the CEE region. In fact, 8 of 10 EU countries with the greatest excess mortality, an indicator of outcomes and pandemic management, come from the region. These countries have contributed to roughly 65% of excess fatalities per capita in the EU since the covid-19 pandemic began in 2019.

This is not just a matter of bad fortune and coincidence. CEE countries instead tend to share a common approach to the organization of their health insurance systems, the provision of care, the management of resources and a wide range of other health care management processes.

The EU commission, in response to these gaps, has allocated hundreds of millions of euros over the years to CEE countries to reduce differences in access to quality and effective care.  

Despite these expenditures, health care systems in the CEE region have failed to achieve parity with the best ranked systems in the EU. And even though vaccines have alleviated the impact of covid-19 regionally and globally, future health challenges remain that may pose significant problems. These issues range from the increasing prevalence of multimorbid patients to the expensive cost for medicine to scarcities in personal and financial resources. It is probable that these problems will require similar solutions as the pandemic recovery, i.e., flexible and readily adaptable health care systems that can address new and emerging challenges.

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