Last month, the World Health Organization (WHO) published the 2015 World Health Statistics consisting of the health data of 194 countries. This years’ report makes special reference to the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), currently in their final year. While not all MDG health-related goals were reached, the WHO found that significant progress has been made. For instance, global child and maternal mortality rates have decreased by half since 1990, while the rate of HIV infection has been curbed from 3.4 million annual new cases in 2001 to 2.1 million in 2013. For the future, the WHO has stressed the importance of new health concerns, including the prevalence non-communicable diseases (NCDs), ahead of the September UN General Assembly meeting to discuss goals for 2030.
A changing health landscape, including changes in morbidity, mortality, and health systems, is equally common in Canada as it has been around the world. The 2015 World Health Statistics report illustrates the significant changes in health and healthcare in Canada over the past decades. Between 1990 and 2013, statistics indicate that under-five mortality rates have been reduced by 38% and the rate of maternal mortality is approximately 11 per 100 000 births, while 98% of births occur in a hospital.
Meanwhile, Canadians are more likely to die from NCDs, such as diabetes and cancer, than other causes of death. The mortality rate from NCDs is roughly 318 per 100 000 people, compared to 23 from communicable diseases and 31 from injuries. While this may be explained by the increasing global prevalence of NCDs, Canada has also mitigated the incidence of communicable diseases over the past several decades. For instance, the rate of mortality from tuberculosis has dropped by 52% since 1990. Aiding in the prevalence of NCDs in Canada may be rising obesity rates; 26.8% of adult men are classified as obese while 29.1% of Canadian women are obese, compared to 15% of women world-wide. Nevertheless, the adult mortality rate, described as the probability of death between 15-60 years old, has dropped from 132 to 81 per 1000 for men and from 71 to 52 per 1000 among women. Meanwhile, overall life expectancy in Canada has increased from 77 to 82 years old.
Finally, the World Health Statistics indicates that Canada’s health care infrastructure, while enhancing, requires further improvement. An average of 2.3 hospitals exist per 100 000 people, while the number of psychiatric beds at the same population rate was even less. Meanwhile, the number of healthcare workers available per 10 000 Canadians includes 20.7 physicians, 92.9 nurses and midwives, 12.6 dentists, and 1.3 psychiatrists. A good sign however is that government expenditure on health, within total government expenditure, continues to rise from 15.1% in 2000 to 18.5% in 2012, while spending per capita has risen from $1783 to $3229 during the same period.