US continues to lag behind when it comes to global mortality. Last week, a report in the Lancet revealed that over the past 25 years, countries like Ethiopia, China, Peru, Maldive islands, Turkey, and South Korea have had marked improvements in death rates primarily due to an increase in healthcare investments. Over the same stretch of time, the report states that the US has only marginally improved.
American healthcare workers say that this is really embarrassing considering that the US spends close to $9,000 per American on health care each year whereas the above-mentioned countries spend less than one tenth of this amount.
The reforming of American healthcare has been going on for many years and despite many policy changes, the US is still falling short. This new measure of global mortality takes into account how well each nation fares at preventing deaths that can be avoided by using the currently available medical therapies or interventions. This new model excludes any deaths caused by smoking, guns, epidemic of infections, car accidents etc.
The report analyzes how the countries have fared financially – how poor they were 25 years ago and where they stand today. Findings show that many nations in Eastern Europe, Latin America and parts of Asia have become wealthier. Africa, on the other hand has remained poor but has benefitted from donations of medical supplies like AIDS drugs and vaccines.
The report judged poor countries on simpler medical treatments like how they vaccinated against the common childhood infections. The richer countries were judged on higher standards such as success after hernia surgery, treatment of complex birth problems or management of seizures. In addition, wealthy countries were judged on how well they fared at treating cancers and many other chronic disorders. The top ranked countries in this report were Switzerland, Germany, Norway, Sweden, Australia and Andorra. The lowest ranked were Afghanistan, Somalia and Central African Republic.
The US ranked 35th. Sadly the US fared worse than most developed countries at treating skin cancer, lymphoma, pneumonia, heart disease and diabetes. Two countries that got worse over the past 25 years were India and South Africa, despite the booming economy.
In the end, this report is myopic in nature. The data is very selective and the analysis of data remains questionable. The US still has some of the best hospitals and best doctors in the world and people from all over the world routinely come here for medical care. So it is not like people are dying on the streets in the US. However, it is still important to look into the reasons why healthcare continues to be a challenge for this country and what measures can be taken to address gaps and problems.