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Japan’s health systems are the best among the 191 member countries of the World Health Organization, according to a WHO survey in the World Health Report 2000, released Wednesday.

The findings in the report, “Health Systems: Improving Performance,” showed that Japan topped the list of overall health system attainment based on five indicators.

The five indicators include healthy life expectancy, a figure in which the expected number of years of a person’s ill health are subtracted from overall life expectancy, and health inequalities, examining regional disparities in mortality rates among children under 5.

The remaining three indicators are the average level of health system responsiveness in terms of patient satisfaction and human rights protection, inequalities in responsiveness across the population, which examines discrimination based on patient status, such as race and sex, and fairness in financial contributions.

Human rights protection involves not disclosing information on patients’ illnesses and offering informed consent, while fairness in financial contributions verifies whether health costs are shouldered in line with income.

The list was compiled on the basis of questionnaires sent to researchers in various countries and existing statistics, WHO officials said.

Japan ranked eighth or above in all five indicators and occupied the top seat in the overall list, followed by Switzerland, Norway, Sweden, Luxembourg and France.

For example, Japan’s average healthy life expectancy based on the WHO’s Disability Adjusted Life Expectancy indicator is 71.9 years for men and 77.2 years for women, while the country ranked third in assessment of health inequalities concerning mortality rates for children under 5.

The United States ranked 15th overall, as the country’s fairness in financial contributions was 54th among WHO member countries.

African countries were rated low in the table. WHO officials said many deaths and disabilities could be prevented in developing countries if they improved their health systems.

On the list, countries with large-scale state finances and high levels of education tended to earn higher scores.

In another table showing the degree of efforts to improve health systems in light of their potential, Japan ranked 10th. The top position was occupied by France.