At AFKInsider you’ve seen many quality of life indexes that show what it’s like to live and do business in the many countries of Africa. Less reported is quality of death — end-of-life health care.
Palliative care focuses on providing patients with relief from pain, stress, and symptoms and mental health issues associated with serious illness.
In many countries, the proportion of older people in the population is growing. The opposite is true in Africa, where the youthful population — often referred to as a “bulge” — is growing massive. But diseases of affluence — such as heart disease and cancer — are also on the rise. The need for palliative care is expected to rise significantly worldwide, according to a report by The Economist Intelligence Unit.
Health risks traditionally associated with affluence are no longer confined to wealthy countries. Researchers compared data from 199 countries between 1980 and 2008 on the prevalence of risk factors related to heart and circulatory disease.
In 1980, a country’s income correlated with the population’s average blood pressure, cholesterol and body mass index. By 2008, there was no relationship between national income and blood pressure in men, and in women blood pressure was higher in poorer countries, according to researchers at Imperial College London, Harvard School of Public Health, and worldwide, Eurekalert reported.
Everyone wants a good life and a good death. The Economist Intelligence Unit’s
Quality of Death Index, commissioned by the Lien Foundation, highlights advances and challenges.
In general, income is a strong indicator of the availability and quality of palliative care, with wealthy countries clustered high on the index rankings.
Many developing countries still cannot provide basic pain management due to limitations in basic infrastructure and staff.
The index compared 80 countries, giving scores for 20 quantitative and qualitative indicators across five categories including palliative and healthcare environment, human resources, affordability of care, quality of care and community engagement.
The report defines palliative care as care that provides relief from pain, affirms life and regards dying as a normal process; neither tries to hasten nor postpone death; integrates psychological and spiritual aspects of patient care; and offers support.
The U.K scores highest in the world on the Quality Of Death Index with 93.9 points.
The U.S. by comparison ranked No. 9 with 80.8 points, ahead of France and behind the Netherlands (No. 8), Germany (No. 7), Taiwan (No. 6), Belgium (No. 5), Ireland (No. 4), New Zealand (No. 3) and Australia (No. 2).
Government funding is essential to increase access to end-of-life care, according to the report. In 32 of the 80 countries ranked on the index, governments established subsidies for palliative care services or offer state-run services. National pension plans cover the costs in many cases. Nonprofits often play a role.
These are 13 African countries with the highest quality of death.