How New Zealander’s Health Compares to the OECD’s

This is an exploratory study and may be of little value.

            By way of background, I observed a Kings Fund study which ranked the British health system with a group of other affluent OECD countries. I thought it would be interesting to do this for New Zealand. I got deviated when I found an OECD data base it used with more than 10,000 lines of data. (Actually bit too many from my PC RAM to handle comfortably. It was not the only data source the Kings Fund used although often New Zealand was not in the others (nor in every area of the OECD data base). So I concentrated on the OECD data base.

            Another concern was that ranking has its limitation. It does not discriminate between a couple of athletes with a millisecond between them and a couple with an hour. So, I have used the proportion of the mean of those OECD countries with records.

            I am not sure whether what I have done is useful. In fact, I have only used about 40 percent of the entries – the calculation is rather tedious. If the tabulation of any use, I could do the remaining 60 percent which are more health conditions.

The source articles are:

Anandaciva, S. (2023) How does the NHS compare to the health care systems of other countries?

OECD (2023)  Data catalogue.

The Kings fund reference is here

This paper explores the New Zealand dimension of an OECD health data base. It takes each item and locates New Zealand in the population of OECD countries who report on the item – not all of whom doing (including, sometimes, biggies like Britain and the US) – by its proportion of the mean of the group.

Note that while the OECD does its best to have comparable data, individual data points may be idiosyncratic reflecting reporting standards and practices. For instance, the Netherlands reports a dementia rate of 1.6 per 100,000, well below the 34 per 100,000 for the group; its Alzheimer’s rate is 1.0 against 12.6 so it does not seem to be a categorisation difference.

Note that New Zealand does not report for some categories such as for colorectal screening. (Does the MoH not having the data?) Nor some resource utilisation rates (such as doctor consultations).

There is data going back to 2002 but it is not always as complete (and probably beyond my RAM).

I’ve tabulated about 40% of the table below, stopping because I am not sure how useful the exercise is (it is certainly time consuming). The remaining 60% reports other health conditions – the last are about pregnancy.

As I computed, I became increasingly unsure about the significance of the data, especially for the health conditions. Most show the New Zealand proportion below the OECD average, but it could be due to

            – recording failure (although less likely for death records);

            – categorisation differences;

           – differences in age structures between the countries (NZ being younger than many reduces prevalence of conditions associate with aging);

            – differences in treatment (and treatment success);

            – differences in prevention programs (note for instance NZ is low on uterine cance and high on cervical screening);

            – we are under diagnosing relative to OECD average (less likely for deaths);

            – other differences I havn’t thought of.


NEW ZEALAND 2021 (unit) OECD NZ % of OECD

Diphtheria, Tetanus, Pertussis (% Children) 94.5 97%
Measles (% Children) 94.2 97%
Hepatitis B (% Children) 74.3 99%
Influenza (%>65) 53.6 136%

Breast cancer (females% 50-69) 53.0 126%
Cervical cancer (females% 50-69) 51.1 136%


Inpatient care discharges (all hospitals per 100,000) 12943 98%

Inpatient care stay (all hospitals average days) 6.3 74%

Curative care (discharges per 100,000) 12452 94%

Curative care bed days (per capita) 0.78 64%

Curative care stay (average days) 6.6 67%

Infectious parasitic diseases (per 100,000) 320 95%

Intestinal except diarrhoea 46.5 125%

Diarrhoea and gastroenteritis 49.4 17%

Tuberculosis 9.0 49%

Septicaemia 76.6 154%

HIV 2.9 3%

Other 132.7 87%

Neoplasms (per 100,000) 1224 59%

colon rectum anus 115.8 63%

trachea bronchus lung 97.7 46%

skin 33.5 113%

breast (females only) 170.0 62%

uterus (females only) 63.3 60%

ovary (females only) 42.4 39%

prostrate (males only) 104.7 61%

bladder 58.1 39%

other malign neoplasms 466.5 67%

carcinoma in situ (females only) 17.1 125%

benign colon, rectum, anus 20.9 46%

leiomyoma of uterus (females only) 76.0 38%

other benign neoplasms or uncertain unknown 162.4 46%

Diseases of blood and blood forming organs (per 100,000) 114.7 83%

anaemias 80.6 77%

other 32.5 101%

Endocrine, nutritional and metabolic diseases (per 100,000) 282.7 87%

diabetes mellitus 108.4 95%

other 174.4 81%

Mental and Behavioural Disorders per 100,000 600.7 81%

Dementia 34.5 125%

Due to alcohol 102.0 55%

Due to pyschoactive substance 44.7 81%

Schizophrenia etc 117.0 105%

Mood (affective) disorders 117.0 80%

Other 177.0 77%

Diseases of the nervous system 384.7 89%

Alzheimers 12.6 38%

Multiple sclerosis 12.5 27%

Epilepsy 68.4 77%

Transient Cerebral Ischaemic Attacks & related 49.0 131%

Other 239.4 90%