Glossary

Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome (AIDS): a syndrome caused by the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). If HIV is untreated, the body’s immune system is damaged and is unable to fight infections and cancer.

Alcohol consumption: the average annual consumption of pure alcohol in litres, per person aged 15 and over.

Body mass index (BMI): the most commonly used method of assessing whether a person is normal weight, underweight, overweight or obese. It is calculated by dividing a person’s weight (in kilograms) by their height (in metres) squared. For both men and women, underweight is a BMI below 18.5, normal weight is from 18.5 to less than 25, overweight but not obese is from 25 to less than 30, and obese is 30 and over. Sometimes overweight and obese are combined—defined as a BMI of 25 and over.

Communicable disease: disease or illness caused by infectious organisms or their toxic products. The disease may be passed directly or indirectly to humans through contact with other humans, animals or other environments where the organism is found.

Community pharmacy: health care facility dispensing medicines to out-patients. In many countries, community pharmacies are private facilities, but public pharmacies also exist. Pharmaceutical provision for inpatients is provided for by hospital pharmacies or pharmaceutical depots; in some cases hospital pharmacies also act as community pharmacies.

Coronary bypass: a surgical procedure to restore normal blood flow to the heart muscle by diverting the flow of blood around a section of a blocked artery in the heart.

Defined daily dosage: the assumed average maintenance dose per day for a drug used on its main indication in adults. Used to measure consumption of pharmaceuticals.

General practice: general practice includes fully-qualified general practitioners (GPs). Physicians in training are normally excluded.

Generic pharmaceuticals: a pharmaceutical product which has the same qualitative and quantitative composition in active substances and the same pharmaceutical form as the reference medicinal product, and whose bioequivalence with the reference medicinal product has been demonstrated by appropriate bioavailability studies. Generics can be classified in branded generics (generics with a specific trade name) and unbranded generics (which use the international non-proprietary names and the name of the company).

Hepatitis B: inflammation of the liver caused by the hepatitis B virus.

Hysterectomy: a surgical procedure to remove all or part of the uterus.

Income per average wage: this measure is a ratio of the income of a health professional to the average wage in that country. Average wages are obtained by dividing the national-accounts-based total wage bill by the average number of employees in the total economy, which is then multiplied by the ratio of the average usual weekly hours per full-time employee to the average usual weekly hours for all employees.

Infant mortality: the number of deaths of children under 1 year of age in a given year, expressed per 1,000 live births. While some countries (including Australia and Canada) register all live births including very small babies with low odds of survival, several countries apply a minimum threshold of a gestation period of 22 weeks (or a birth weight threshold of 500 g) for babies to be registered as live births.

Life expectancy: the average number of years that a person at a particular age can be expected to live, assuming that age-specific mortality levels remain constant.

Long-term care: consists of a range of medical, personal care and assistance services that are provided with the primary goal of alleviating pain and reducing or managing the deterioration in health status for people with a degree of long-term dependency, assisting them with their personal care (through help for activities of daily living such as eating, washing and dressing) and assisting them to live independently (through help for instrumental activities of daily living such as cooking, shopping and managing finances).

Long-term care recipients at home: people receiving formal (paid) long-term care at home. The services received by long-term care recipients can be publicly or privately financed. Long-term care at home is provided to people with functional restrictions who mainly reside at their own home. It also applies to the use of institutions on a temporary basis to support continued living at home – such as in the case of community care and day care centres and in the case of respite care. Home care also includes specially designed or adapted living arrangements for persons who require help on a regular basis while guaranteeing a high degree of autonomy and self-control.

Long-term care recipients in institutions (other than hospitals): people receiving formal (paid) long-term care in institutions (other than hospitals). The services received by long-term care recipients can be financed publicly or privately.

Low birthweight: the weight of an infant at birth of less than 2,500 g (5.5 pounds), irrespective of the gestational age of the infant.

Measles: a highly contagious infection, usually of children, that causes flu-like symptoms, fever, a typical rash and sometimes serious secondary problems such as brain damage.

Malignant: see neoplasms.

Morbidity: the ill health of an individual and levels of ill health in a population or group.

Mortality: mortality rates are based on numbers of deaths registered in a country in a year divided by the size of the corresponding population. Causes of death are classified according to the Tenth revision of the International Classification of Diseases (ICD) along with codes from other ICD revisions used in the World Health Organization Mortality Database. Age-standardised rates per 100,000 population for selected causes are calculated using the total OECD population for 2010 as the reference population. The direct method of standardisation is used for age-standardised calculations.

Neonatal mortality: the number of deaths of children under 28 days of age in a given year, expressed per 1,000 live births.

Neoplasms: an abnormal mass of tissue that results when cells divide more than they should or do not die when they should. Neoplasms may be benign (not cancer), or malignant (cancer). Also called tumor.

Obese: a marked degree of overweight , defined for population studies as a body mass index of 30 or over. See also overweight.

Overweight: defined for the purpose of population studies as a body mass index of 25 and over.

Overweight but not obese: defined for the purpose of population studies as a body mass index between 25 and less than 30.

Perceived health status: a measure that reflects people’s overall perception of their health. Survey respondents are typically asked a question such as: “How is your health in general?”. Caution is required in making cross-country comparisons of perceived health status for at least 2 reasons. First, people’s assessment of their health is subjective and can be affected by cultural factors. Second, there are variations in the question and answer categories used to measure perceived health status across surveys and countries. The response scale used in the United States, Canada, New Zealand, Australia and Chile is asymmetric (skewed on the positive side), including the following response categories: “excellent, very good, good, fair, poor”. In Israel, the scale is symmetric but there is no middle category related to “fair health”. Such differences in response categories bias upwards the results from those countries that are using an asymmetric scale or a symmetric scale but without any middle category.

Percutaneous transluminal coronary angioplasty (PTCA): a medical procedure used to open up blocked coronary arteries, which allows blood to circulate unobstructed to the heart muscle.

Perinatal mortality: the ratio of deaths of children within one week of birth (early neonatal deaths) plus foetal deaths of minimum gestation period 28 weeks or minimum foetal weight of 1,000 g, expressed per 1,000 births.

Pertussis: a highly infectious bacterial disease of the air passages marked by explosive fits of coughing and often a whooping sound on breathing in. Also known as whooping cough.

Pharmaceutical sales: sales of pharmaceuticals on the domestic market, in total and by selected Anatomic Therapeutic Chemical (ATC) groups, based on retail prices (which means the final price paid by the customer).

Prostatectomy: a surgical procedure to remove all or part of the prostate gland.

Reimbursed pharmaceutical market: the sub-market in which a third party payer reimburses medicines (for example, in Australia, the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme is a national, government-funded scheme that subsidises the cost of a wide range of pharmaceutical drugs for all Australians to help them afford standard medications.

Remuneration: the average gross annual income, including social security contributions and income taxes payable by the employee.

Residential long-term care facilities: establishments primarily engaged in providing residential long-term care that combines nursing, supervisory or other types of care as required by the residents. In these establishments, a significant part of the production process and the care provided is a mix of health and social services, with the health services being largely at the level of nursing care, in combination with personal care services. The medical components of care are, however, much less intensive than those provided in hospitals.

Salaried: health professionals who are employees and who receive most of their income via a salary.

Self-employed: health professionals who are primarily non-salaried. That is, they are either self-employed, or operate independently, usually receiving (mainly) either capitation or fee-for-service reimbursement.

Specialists: fully-qualified physicians who have specialised and work primarily in areas other than general practice. Physicians in training are normally excluded.

$US exchange rate: exchange rates are defined as the price of one country’s currency in relation to another. This indicator is measured in terms of national currency per US dollar.

$US purchasing power parity (PPP): purchasing power parities (PPPs) are the rates of currency conversion that equalise the purchasing power of different countries by eliminating the differences in price levels between countries. In their simplest form, PPPs show the ratio of prices in national currencies of the same good or service in different countries. This indicator is measured in terms of the national currency per US dollar.