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Which is the best health system in the world?

BMJ 2011; 343 doi: (Published 04 October 2011) Cite this as: BMJ 2011;343:d6267
  1. John Appleby, chief economist
  1. 1 King’s Fund, London, UK
  1. j.appleby{at}

It may be nice to find your country at the top of healthcare rankings, but the relevance to policymakers is strictly limited, explains John Appleby

According to the World Health Organization, the country with the best health system overall in the world in 2000 was France, with the UK ranked 18th and Burma (Myanmar) coming last at 190th.1 In 2009, according to the EuroHealth Consumer Index, France was ranked seventh out of 33 (mainly European countries) and the Netherlands first (UK trailed in at 14th).2 Meanwhile, last year’s regular 11 country survey of health system performance from the Commonwealth Fund in New York suggested that the UK ranked first in terms of the smallest proportion of members of the public polled thinking the system needed fundamental changes or complete rebuilding (fig 1).3 A parallel Commonwealth Fund survey of seven countries in 2010 ranked the Netherlands top (and the UK second) on a basket of performance dimensions (fig 2).4

Fig 1 Overall public views of the healthcare system, 20103

Fig 2 Performance ranking of seven countries, 20104

Although the authors of …

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