What Separates a Good Health Care System from a Bad One?

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What is a Health Care System?
“My first world is humanity. My second world is humanism. And, I live in the third world being merely a human.” Santosh Kalwar

A health care system consists of the doctors, nurses, hospitals, and other health care professionals and facilities that serve the health needs of their community.

These systems can vary greatly depending on where you are located. In some countries, health care systems are run by the actual health organizations, and in others, they are more heavily influenced by the government in addition to trade unions, charities, and religious entities.


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The World Health Organization (WHO) is responsible for directing and coordinating authority for health care systems within the United Nations system. Its primary goal is to promote universal health care and ensuring all citizens have quality care without suffering financial hardships to access it.

What Separates A Good Health Care System From A Bad One?

When I was the Head Physiotherapist at Fremantle football club, looking after players was my job. Everyone was counting on me to keep the team in top shape and avoid injuries that could derail a winning season.

Two things make health care professionals do their jobs well: skills and resources.

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I always felt confident in my ability. I was taught to a high standard. I always had a massive amount of support and equipment available at Fremantle. Not every organisation is like this, and certainly not the wider health care system.

If medical knowledge and equipment are in short supply, then it follows that treating people is difficult. Lots of shiny equipment is pretty much useless if doctors, nurses, or physios don’t know how to use it properly. Square pegs, round holes. So why is it that some health care systems are on life-support?


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Why Are The Worst Health Care Systems In Such Bad Shape?

We’ve been looking at the health care systems of different countries recently. One thing stands out: countries with a poor healthcare record spend hardly any money on training and equipment for their doctors and nurses.

How are things expected to improve in these countries if health care is being run on a shoestring budget? Lots of trained doctors from the so-called “third world” end up going to the west in search of better pay and more opportunities. This “brain drain” is damaging less-developed countries. 

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Universities in some third-world and developing countries might be packed with eager young medical graduates, but lecturers and proper equipment are in short supply.

To boot, corruption is part of daily life in some countries. Instead of providing healthcare for the people, some government officials look to line their own pockets with money that is intended to build hospitals and pay medical staff. Doctors have even been known to falsely diagnose patients with illnesses so that they can charge more money. If that happened somewhere like France or the UK, they would be struck off or face jail time.

Going to the doctor is meant to make you feel better, or at least help you recover. In countries where healthcare is failing, the opposite happens: untested and banned drugs are given to patients without no thought about their safety. Pretty evil.


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Time for some positivity. Here’s how the best healthcare systems earn their reputations and set the right tone.

How Do The Best Health Care Systems Achieve Great Results?

A well-oiled health care machine that looks after sick people, without draining their wallets, can’t just kick into gear overnight.

Countries like France and the UK have created systems that rely heavily on taxpayers’ contributions. Ideally, a country should spend at least 5% or more of its GDP each year on health. Sweden currently spends 8% per year, which may explain why the people there are so well looked after. On the flip side, Myanmar spends less than 3%.


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Lots of people in these countries are very protective of their state-sponsored healthcare. Like supporters who cheer on their favourite football team on the weekend. Taxing higher earners 40% or 50% of their income is how lots of countries are able to pump huge amounts of money into things like hospitals and university courses.

This social care is backed up by letting the private sector grow. If people want to pay to see a specialist surgeon or doctor, they are able to. In countries like the United Kingdom, the Labour party sometimes accuses the Conservatives of trying to “privatise” certain parts of the National Health Service.

Politicians should perhaps forget about their party loyalty when it comes to healthcare. After all, shouldn’t politicians stick to being loyal to the people who are looking to them for help?

In Australia, more aboriginal people are training to be doctors and nurses. Bursaries are a great way to allow students from poorer backgrounds to take up medicine. Amazing stuff, isn’t it? This practice is allowing aboriginals to help their own communities. Stats show that aboriginals experience a higher rate of mental illness and alcohol or drug addiction than white Australians as a whole. Giving something back to your wider community seems more important than ever, Indigenous doctors are doing just that.


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Other countries like Singapore have world-class universities that take bright young Singaporeans and turn them into some of the best doctors, nurses, and surgeons on the planet.

Earlier I talked about dangerous or untested drugs being given to patients in countries where the health system is struggling. In the best healthcare systems, drugs go through testing before they are released onto the market. Have you ever offered to be a “Guinea pig” for a drugs trial?

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Ageing Populations And Superbugs

But even the best healthcare systems are not indestructible. Some participants who have access to the most streamlined care in the world may still be forced to wait or be denied for care if they have preexisting conditions. Or, if the system is overflowing, it can also take weeks or months to see a doctor for standard care.

There are lots of different challenges to face. People are living longer and longer lives. For example, the number of British people has quadrupled over the past 30 years. Looking after people as they get older could be a job entirely for robots as the 21st century goes on. New viruses keep developing, like MRSA and drug-resistant strains of malaria. Epidemics could cause serious problems.

What do you think about best and worst healthcare systems? Head over to the Fill Your Cup Facebook page and let us know!


“Staff Training Is Crucial For Third-World Health”

“Recruiting Doctors From Poor Countries”

“Shinjuku Doctor Gave False STD Diagnoses”

“How NHS Is Funded”

“More Indigenous Doctors Aim To Close Australia’s Health Gap”

“How To Reduce Drug Resistance”


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