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Which countries are spending the most on preventive care?

In this week’s infographic we look at OECD data for expenditure on preventive care across 41 countries.

The OECD defines preventive care expenditure as health expenditure for which the primary purpose “is to avoid diseases and risk factors (primary prevention) or the early detection of disease (secondary prevention). This includes both services consumed by individuals (e.g. preventive immunisation or screening) as well as collective services (e.g. information campaigns or epidemiological surveillance).”

According to the OECD’s data, the preventive care expenditure across OECD countries (plus Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Malta and Romania) has grown slightly over the past decade or so. The average proportion of health expenditure going towards prevention across the 41 countries increased from 1.3% in 2011 to 1.8% in 2020, reflecting the fact that most of the countries have slightly increased their expenditure on preventive care.

However, there is a wide range in what countries spend on it. Whilst most countries devote less than 2% of their health expenditure to prevention, several countries devote less than 1%. The only country consistently devoting 5+% of its health spend to prevention is Canada. Turkey comes in second, consistently devoting 4-5% to prevention.

But both countries were overtaken in 2021 by the Netherlands, which ramped up prevention spending to 7.6% (from 3.3%) of total health expenditure in 2021, in response to Covid. The Netherlands was not the only country to ramp up prevention expenditure in response to Covid; several others increased their spend on prevention in 2020 and 2021, although none by as much as The Netherlands.

We would welcome your thoughts on this story. Email your views to Martin De Benito Gellner or call 0207 183 3779.