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There are numerous possibilities to measure public health in a country. Indicators that come to mind include measures such as per-capita public health expenditures, number of hospitals or the number of per-capita physicians and health providers.

However, high health costs or an extended health infrastructure do not necessarily indicate a high level of public health. They may actually just measure the overall wealth of a country. In fact, high health costs could be indicative of widespread chronical diseases, such as excessive obesity, diabetes, or heart disease. Countries with widespread infectious diseases, such as Malaria or HIV/AIDS might also have relatively high per-capita health costs. One might even argue that lower per-capita health costs indicate better overall public health.

It is therefore necessary to identify indicators that actually measure public health - as opposed to indicators that just measure a country's resources for dealing with sick people.

The following indicators seem to be more directly linked to the actual health status of a population than the more traditional public health measures, such as healthy life expectancy.

Dimensions of health

  1. Healthy Life Expectancy: Rather than looking at overall life expectancy at birth, many authors have tried to measure the number of years people live without serious diseases

  2. Life Expectancy at birth:

  3. Difference between male and female life expectancy:

  4. Malnutrition:

Graph with z-scores of the dimemsions of health