Brunei falls seven places in Bloomberg health rankings

|     Azlan Othman     |

BRUNEI Darussalam has fallen seven places in Bloomberg’s latest global health report rankings.

The Bloomberg Healthiest Country Index 2019, which ranks 169 countries, placed the sultanate in 44th spot. In the previous edition of the Bloomberg Healthiest Country Index, published in 2017, Brunei was ranked 37th.

The index grades nations based on variables including life expectancy while imposing penalties on risks such as tobacco use and obesity. It also takes into consideration environmental factors including access to clean water and sanitation.

Spain tops the list as the healthiest country, overtaking Italy.

Researchers point to eating habits for clues to the health levels enjoyed by Spain and Italy, saying that people who eat a “Mediterranean diet, supplemented with extra-virgin olive oil or nuts, have a lower rate of major cardiovascular events than those assigned to a reduced-fat diet”, according to a study led by the University of Navarra Medical School.

The countries in the top 50 registering the biggest improvements on the previous index in 2017 were South Korea, from 24th to 17th, Estonia, which rose six from 38th to 32nd, and Albania, which improved seven places from 50th to 43rd.

Singapore, Japan, Switzerland, Sweden and Norway are featured in the 10 healthiest countries on Bloomberg’s list. Haiti, Afghanistan and Yemen were among the worst-performing.

Japan was the healthiest Asian nation, jumping three places from the 2017 survey into fourth and replacing Singapore, which dropped to eighth.

Spain, meanwhile, has the highest life expectancy at birth among European Union nations, trailing only Japan and Switzerland globally, United Nations data show. The Iberian nation is forecast to have the highest lifespan by 2040, at almost 86 years, followed by Japan, Singapore and Switzerland, according to the University of Washington’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation.

Brunei’s dip in the latest Bloomberg report caps a worrying downward trend in health for the otherwise outwardly health-conscious country.

A survey by the World Health Organization (WHO) conducted in Brunei in 2015/2016 found that among Bruneians, the obesity rate was 28.2 per cent, overweight condition was 62.8 per cent, high blood pressure was 28 per cent, high cholesterol was 51.3 per cent, while high blood sugar level was 9.7 per cent.