Liz Wager’s vital statistics

Liz WagerOne of my best presents this Christmas was a slim book called the Pocket World in Figures, published by The Economist.

I don’t know what it says about my personality, but I love perusing these lists.

Here are a few choice, health-related facts:

  1. In the UK there are 76 computers per 100 people – in Nigeria there are 0.8
  2. Male life expectancy in Swaziland is 39.8 years
  3. Malawi has the third highest health spending as a percentage of GDP (after the US and Timor-Leste) … at 12.2%  … this sounds great until you find that Malawi’s GDP is just US$240 per head (while the UK’s is $39,750)
  4. Malawi also has the lowest number of doctors in the world (just 1 per 49,624 people compared with about 1 per 500 in the UK and 1 per 200 in Greece)
  5. 12 of the 20 most polluted cities in the world are in China
  6. In 6 countries, less than 40% of the urban population have access to sanitation – all are in Africa
    Japan has 14.3 hospital beds per 1000 people – in the UK we have 3.9, in Kenya there are 1.9

I could go on. Almost everything has something to do with health. Even if you’re sick of lists of the Top this, that or whatever, I recommend this book – and hope, rather optimistically, for greater equality in 2009.

Liz Wager is a freelance writer, trainer and publications consultant who works for a number of pharmaceutical companies, communication agencies, publishers and academic institutions. She is also the Secretary of COPE (the Committee On Publication Ethics) and a member of the BMJ’s Ethics Committee.