Having More Doctors Extend Life Expectancy?
are defined as graduates of any faculty of school of medicine
who are working in the country in any medical field, whether
in a practice, teaching or research. The map below shows the
number of physicians per 100,000 people around 1998, as compiled
by the World Health Organization. (See WHO
Estimates of Health Personnel.) This measurement attempts
to compare health care access for people living in different
countries, by comparing their access to health care professionals.
map shows that industrialized countries tend to have
more doctors per capita than non-industrialized countries, which
mirrors the finding that Life
Expectancy <link to presentation page> tends to be higher in industrialized
countries. However, there are exceptions.
Many countries of the former Soviet Union have very high physicians
per capita rates. Cuba
also has a high number, and ranks third in the world, with
530 doctors per 100,000 people, behind Monaco (664) and Italy
(554). The high number of physicians appears to be at least
partly responsible for Cuba's excellent level of health care.
Cuba has a very high level of Life Expectancy, despite the
fact that it has one of the
lowest spending rates on health care. (See Health Care Spending.)
as the graph shows (below), there
is no direct correlation between number of physicians per
person and Life Expectancy. The measure of doctors
per person provides only a rough guide to access to care.
There are significant intracountry inequalities of access
between rich and poor and urban and rural. (See Intracountry
Some countries compensate for lack
of trained physicians by using other health care professionals,
such as nurses and midwives. (For details, see WHO
Estimates of Health Personnel, <link to URL
specified below>) Even in developed countries, there
is a rise in the number of physician's assistants, who perform
some of the work previously handled by doctors. However, the
graph (above) does highlight that countries with very low
Life Expectancy rates usually have extremely low numbers of
there is no direct correlation between the number of trained
physicians and Life Expectancy rates, it is clear that unequal
access to health care extends beyond a patientıs access to
physicians. Good health requires proper nutrition,
access to clean water, sanitation and other factors.
However, the low numbers of physicians
may reflect a low level of investment into the future health
of a country.
WHO Estimates of Health Personnel