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Long-living Swiss top tables for psychiatrists

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Long-living Swiss top tables for psychiatrists
Photo: Zurich university hospital
13:46 CET+01:00
Residents of Switzerland have a longer life expectancy than anyone else but they also rely on far more psychiatrists, a new report says.

The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development says that life expectancy for Swiss residents born in 2011 is 82.8 years, just ahead of Japan and Italy (82.7 years), and compares with an average of 80.1 for the 34 countries in the OECD.

The numbers are contained in the organization’s Health at a Glance 2013 report, which also notes that the Swiss have three times as many psychiatrists on a per capita basis than average.

Switzerland boasted 45.1 psychiatrists per 100,000 population in 2011, far ahead of the nearest challengers Iceland (22.3) and France (22.1).

By comparison, the United States had a rate of 14.1, while bottom-ranked Mexico recorded just 1.2.

Coincidentally, the US (79.9) and Mexico 74.2) have lower than average life expectancy rates and are the only two countries in the OECD without universal health coverage.

The number of psychiatrists in Switzerland has also been growing at the fastest clip in the OECD — at 4.6 percent a year between 2000 and 2011, the report said.

It does not explain specifically why the Swiss have such a high rate of psychiatrists, medical doctors who specialize in the the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of mental illness.

But it notes that in other countries mental health nurses are playing an increasingly important role in this area.

Overall, the OECD highlights the fact that people born two years ago can look forward to a far longer life than those born in 1970, when the average life expectancy for the 34 countries was just 70.

But little progress has been made in South Africa, the country with the lowest life expectancy (52.6), where AIDS continues to take its toll, behind India (65.5).

The report also points to the lingering gender gap in life expectancy.

The report said average life expectancy at birth in 2011 for women reached 82.8 years, compared to 77.3 years from men, a gap of 5.5 years.

The OECD makes a correlation between high standard of living and longer life expectancy but it notes other factors can play a role.

Switzerland tops the tables for reducing cancer mortality rates by 28 percent between 1990 and 2011, according to the report.

The average reduction for the 34 countries is 14 percent for the period, while some countries registered an increase in cancer death rates, with Brazil (up 11 percent) recording the worst rate.

The Swiss scored better than average on most health indicators but posted one of the poorest records for daily moderate-to-vigorous physical activity for children aged 11 to 15.

Only Italy, France and Denmark scored worse, according to the OECD table which indicated only around seven percent of 15-year-old girls in Switzerland exercise enough.

Perhaps surprisingly for a country of chocolate lovers, Switzerland had the lowest rate (8.1 percent) for overweight and obesity among adults in the world for 2011 outside of Asia,.

Better rates were only found among OECD countries in Korea (4.3 percent), Japan (4.1 percent), China (2,9 percent), Indonesia (2.4 percent) and India (2.1 percent).

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