Health round-up: Healthcare ranking, dementia and tobacco

Richard Laycock 20 July 2017 NEWS

Woman with good posture, eating a salad while sitting on a yoga mat

A weekly round-up of Australia's latest healthcare news.

The Australian healthcare system ranks second best in the developed world

Australia has come in second out of 11 countries in a review ranking the most accessible and high-quality healthcare systems, according to the Commonwealth Fund.

The US-based research found that Australians have good access to health care regardless of a person’s income.

The study ranked the 11 nations based on five key areas: care process, access, administrative efficiency, equity and health care outcomes.

Australia came in second to the United Kingdom's National Health Service, followed by the Netherlands, New Zealand and Norway.

Probably not surprisingly, the United States came in dead last, ranking last in three of the five measurement categories.

Country Overall rank
UK 1
AUS 2
NETH 3
NZ 4
NOR 4
SWE 6
SWIZ 6
GER 8
CAN 9
FRA 10
US 11

Of the results, the president of the Commonwealth Fund, Dr David Blumenthal, said, "What this report tells us is that despite the substantial gains in coverage and access to care due to the Affordable Care Act, our health care system is still not working as well as it could for Americans, and it works especially poorly for those with middle or lower incomes."

Could poor sleep increase your chances of dementia?

There are significant associations between sleep disordered breathing (SDB) such as sleep apnoea and biomarkers for Alzheimer's disease, according to numerous research analyses presented at the Alzheimer's Association International Conference 2017 (AAIC 2017) in London.

Sleep apnoea affects roughly 3 in 10 men and 1 in 5 women.

The research found that sleep breathing disorders lead to an accumulation of amyloid beta, the main component of the amyloid plaques found in the brains of Alzheimer patients. These results were found in both cognitively normal individuals and those with mild cognitive impairment.

"Sleep disordered breathing is treatable in many cases. Through early diagnosis and effective treatment of these sleep disorders, there is the potential to improve cognition and possibly reduce dementia risk. But first we need to know more about the connections between these medical conditions," said Dean M. Hartley, PhD, Alzheimer's Association director of science initiatives.

Increase in tobacco control policies

Roughly 63% (4.7 billion) of the world's population is being protected by tobacco control policies, according the World Health Organisation (WHO).

The WHO report on the global tobacco epidemic claims that over the last decade, millions of lives have been saved by anti-smoking initiatives such as graphic warnings and smoke-free public places.

While this is a positive sign, the use of tobacco is still the leading cause of preventable deaths worldwide. Every year tobacco use is responsive for more than 7 million deaths.

“One in 10 deaths around the world is caused by tobacco, but we can change that through MPOWER tobacco control measures, which have proven highly effective,” says Michael R. Bloomberg, WHO Global Ambassador for Noncommunicable Diseases and founder of Bloomberg Philanthropies.

The MPOWER tobacco control measures, laid out in 2008 to promote government action, include bans on advertising and raising taxes on tobacco products.


What else is happening?

Between 17 March 2016 and 31 March 2017, there were 1,064 reports of highly resistant bacteria, according to the first annual National Alert System for Critical Antimicrobial Resistance (CARAlert).

The CARAlert surveillance findings will help experts fight against antimicrobial resistance.

Each week our round-up offers a summary of the latest developments impacting Australian health care and most importantly, you, the consumer. Check in every Thursday to find out what's happening in health.

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