Numbers are beautiful and Communism works

Wolf | May 25th, 2011 - 12:31

Numbers are beautiful and Communism works. Photography by Wolf Kettler.It takes me at least three weeks to see my GP for a routine appointment and the reason, I had always assumed, is that they are incompetent at providing a good service. Not inefficient, just not interested. The quality of the medical care is excellent but you may not live long enough to see a doctor.

Turns out that I may have been wrong about my GP. Dr. Now-and-then (not his real name but a good description of his availability) and his crew may actually be struggling with their workload.

My nephew, who knows about these things because he is professionally at the clever end of medical information technology, tweeted the other day about a 2011 study from the World Health Organisation. This alerted me to take a closer look.

I looked at physicians per 10,000 population and chose a handful of countries:

Physicians per 10,000 population. Source WHO 2011.

Looking through the list it would appear that the more capitalist a country is, the fewer doctors it has whilst, at the same time, being at the forefront of medical science in many cases – just like my GP. Good quality, poor availability.

One could conclude, perhaps not entirely unexpectedly, that in these countries health care is accessible only to the financially well off. Directing one’s eyes at Cuba with 64 physicians per 10k population, would it be wrong to further conclude that communism works?

Ruffled feathers, I know, but if you think that my comments are extreme or controversial, download the study at, analyse the figures and come up with your own interpretation. Try it, it is good fun.

My nephew’s interpretation, for instance, was different. He asked why life expectancy in Austria with 47.5 physicians per 10k population was lower than in Australia with only 29.9.

Told you – numbers are beautiful.



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