Home » Expat Focus International Healthcare Update April 2024

Expat Focus International Healthcare Update April 2024

Spanish Hospitals ‘Crackdown’ After Painkiller Scandal

In Spain, the National Court’s Prosecutor’s Office plans to investigate potential adverse effects of the painkiller Nolotil, following several deaths among Brits and other Northern Europeans, who appear particularly susceptible to its side effects. Health Minister Mónica García described the situation as a “pharmacovigilance issue” to the press and has not yet made a decision. However, several hospitals, including Costa Blanca’s Grupo Ribera, HCB, and Helicopteros Sanitarios group, appear to have pre-empted her by announcing to the English language press in Spain that they will no longer prescribe Nolotil to British and North American patients. The hospitals reported that, due to the high percentage of affected groups within their patient demographics, they had already made the decision to ban the painkiller for these groups.

CEOWorld ‘Best Healthcare’ Survey

CEOWorld recently released its 2024 Best Healthcare Survey, which offers a statistical analysis of the overall quality of healthcare systems across 110 countries. This analysis considers factors such as infrastructure, professional competencies, costs (USD), medicine availability, and government readiness. The top ten ranking is as follows:

  • Taiwan
  • South Korea
  • Australia
  • Canada
  • Sweden
  • Ireland
  • The Netherlands
  • Germany
  • Norway
  • Israel

The USA is ranked 15th and the UK 27th. Bottom of the list are Nepal, Honduras and El Salvador. Taiwan scored 78.72 out of 100 and is up from 6th place last year, when it was beaten by Italy, Singapore, Iceland, Hong Kong and Finland. None of those countries feature in the top ten this year, although Norway and Australia made an appearance further down the list.

Meanwhile, Sapien Labs, a neuroscience non-profit, has produced its latest iteration of the Global Mind Project’s “Mental State of the World” report, which surveys over 400,000 people in 71 countries. The survey, initiated in 2019, assesses mental health using participants’ self-reported scores, which vary from ‘thriving’ to ‘distressed.’ It reveals a decline in mental health since 2020, coinciding with the onset of the Covid pandemic—an observation corroborated by other scientific studies.

The happiest place on the planet is the Dominican Republic, followed by Sri Lanka and Tanzania. The UK did not fare so well, being beaten in the misery stakes only by Uzbekistan. Spanish speaking countries trended towards the top of the list, whereas Anglophone and Russian speaking nations scored worst. The happiest top ten were:

  • Dominican Republic
  • Sri Lanka
  • Tanzania
  • Panama
  • Malaysia
  • Nigeria
  • Venezuela
  • El Salvador
  • Costa Rica
  • Uruguay

Death of Brit ‘Linked to Eyedrops’

Medications coming into the UK and elsewhere manufactured by India-based Indiana Ophthalmics have been blamed for causing infections in patients. AaCarb, Aacomer and Puroptics branded carbomer eye gels are suspected of containing a bacteria known as Burkholderia cenocepacia, which can cause eye ulcers, deep tissue infections and conjunctivitis. The medication is prescribed for dry eyes, and in the 52 cases identified, as well as several more suspected cases, the eye drops were given to patients already in hospital for other conditions. The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) recalled the drops in late 2023:

Get Our Best Articles Every Month!

Get our free moving abroad email course AND our top stories in your inbox every month

Unsubscribe any time. We respect your privacy - read our privacy policy.

“As a precautionary measure until further information is available, UKHSA has recommended that all carbomer containing eye gels are avoided where possible in individuals with cystic fibrosis; patients being cared for in critical care settings (e.g. intensive care), or who are severely immunocompromised and in hospital, and for patients awaiting lung transplantation.” 

Optometrists caution that practitioners should not now be prescribing drops for dry eyes to people in high risk groups, such as those with cystic fibrosis. If you are concerned, check with your GP or your local pharmacist.

Valeo’s New Health App is a Hit in the Middle East

The Dubai wellness startup Valeo is expanding fast into Saudi Arabia, with a range of at-home blood tests. The Kingdom is continuing to work on the Health Sector Transformation Program as part of Vision 2030, which emphasises telemedicine and remote/digital healthcare. Valeo says that their new product chimes with this in focusing on preventative and personalised healthcare.

Dutch Measles Outbreak

If you’re an expat and a parent in Holland, note that the Dutch authorities are recommending that children get vaccinated against measles, after outbreaks in Eindhoven. Statistics show that one in four people who contract measles end up in hospital, and the illness can be fatal.

Kuwait: Hepatitis C Screening for Expats

Kuwaiti health minister Dr Ahmad Al-Awadhi announced at the end of March that strict tests for Hepatitis C must be conducted on all incoming expats. If you have two ‘indeterminate’ hepatitis C laboratory test results, four weeks apart, you’ll now need to go for a polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test. If the result is negative, your residency permit will be renewed for another year.

Canadians Prefer Healthcare in Mexico

A report in late March indicated that many Canadians would choose Mexico over their own country when it comes to healthcare, with relative cost and speed of treatment given as contributing reasons. Travel Best Bets informed The Hive that they often arrange medical tourism services for clients, including plastic surgery, dental procedures, and other medical treatments like MRIs. Although the Canadian healthcare system is good, lengthy waiting times and red tape contribute to frustration with the system, and the ‘one stop shop’ treatment options in Mexico work better for some patients. There’s currently a median wait time of six months between a GP’s referral and treatment in Canada.

A New Thai Mask Mandate – Or Is It?

Thailand will not be making the wearing of masks with special GPS trackers mandatory in tourist areas – note the date of this announcement! Some forums unfortunately failed to realise that this ‘government statement’ was published on … April 1st.

1 thought on “Expat Focus International Healthcare Update April 2024”

Comments are closed.

Latest Videos

Expat Focus Financial Update February 2024 #expat #expatlife

Expat Focus 28 February 2024 2:53 pm

This error message is only visible to WordPress admins

Important: No API Key Entered.

Many features are not available without adding an API Key. Please go to the YouTube Feeds settings page to add an API key after following these instructions.