6 October 2015

New Zealand rates highly as a good place to die!  Because of the availability, cost and quality of end of life care, it has kept its high overall score on the Quality of Death Index–  although the United Kingdom and Australia seem to be better.

The Index of 40 countries reflects four qualitative – but differently weighted – categories, being

  • Quality of end of life care (40% weighting)
  • Availability of end of life care (25%)
  • Basic End of Life healthcare environment (20%)
  • Cost of end of life care (15%)

Interestingly all European countries on the Index have a better end of life environment than both New Zealand (28th) and United Kingdom (29th) but are marked down for the quality of that care. Their costs are generally higher. As an exception to almost every index reflecting social standards, none of the Scandinavian countries rank in the top ten.

Japan, with its outstanding longevity, is 23rd.

United Kingdom, Australia and New Zealand also topped the Quality of Death Index when last published in 2010.

In many parts of the world, hospice and palliative care is either non-existent or in its infancy. The WHO suggests that about 5 billion people live in countries with poor access to pain control medication. And in developed countries, medical services all too often focus on preventing death rather than helping people meet death without suffering pain, discomfort and stress.

Of the 40 countries on the Index, 30 are OECD members, and the other 10 are less developed economies for which statistics are available. These BRIC countries were the lowest ranked. India is 37th overall and China is 40th.

            2015  Quality of Death Index

1 United Kingdom
2 Australia
3 New Zealand
4 Ireland
5 Belgium
6 Austria
7 Netherlands
8 Germany
9= Canada
9= United States