“First, the WHO research team should have been sure that their estimates are robust. Can they, in good conscience, make that claim? An artificially high ranking, for example, could take the wind out of the sails of desirable health-reform efforts. Similarly, an artificially low ranking could assign a bad grade to past reform efforts that were actually commendable. Rumour in the health services research community has it that France’s no.1 rank was driven in part by a flawed measure of national educational attainment. Under the methodology used by WHO, the more the level of educational attainment or of health spending is underestimated for a country, the higher will be the ratio of actual to ideal performance for that country and the higher will be the nation’s ranking.
“Second, if the report is addressed to policy-makers, one must judge it poorly written. To be sure, it has a number of fascinating, if chatty, chapters; but these are only loosely connected to the actual work underlying this study. To see what was actually done, one must plough through the cryptic commentary that accompanies the tables in the Annex or dig up and read sundry sources cited in the references. Few policymakers and even fewer journalists will go to that trouble.
“To be useful as a policy analysis, the report ought to have started with the crisp executive summary that is now de rigueur among policy analysts, certainly in the United States. That summary would have presented the main conclusions emerging from the study and described, in layman’s terms, the methodology that was used to reach these conclusions. Most important of all, the executive summary should have contained the many caveats that must, in good conscience, accompany ambitious analyses of this sort.”
Source: Reinhardt, U., and T. Cheng. “The world health report 2000 – Health systems: improving performance.” Bulletin of the World Health Organization vol. 78,8 (2000): 1064. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2560832/