Tuesday, January 29, 2013

People in US have poorer health and die younger than those in other rich countries

News Brief by Alice Chan

The medical accomplishments and breakthroughs made over the last decade have made positive differences in the U.S. health care system; however healthier living styles and longer lifespan are not among those differences. According to the January 9th report released by a panel assembled by the U.S. National Research Council and the Institute of Medicine, the U.S. performed poorly in health outcomes rankings at every age from birth to 75 years. In comparison to the inhabitants of the sixteen other high income “peer” countries, including Australia, Canada, and the United Kingdom, featured in the report, Americans are less healthy, have more chronic disease and disability, and die relatively younger than their international counterparts. The report demonstrated the specific nine health outcomes in which Americans performed the worst: infant mortality and low birth weight; injuries and homicide; adolescent pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections; HIV and AIDS; drug related deaths; obesity and diabetes; heart disease; chronic lung disease; and disability. The report suggests that the U.S. health care system’s weaknesses, which include shortage  of primary care and public health services, may have contributed to the poor rankings; however the report also suggests that the health care system is not likely to be solely responsible, as social, environmental, and policy factors are also considered. Nevertheless, the panel recommends a number of solutions: a “strengthened national commitment” to resolve the aforementioned issues, a “robust outreach effort” to raise public awareness to “stimulate a national discussion” and an “examination of the policies and approaches” of other countries that may be successfully adapted and applied in the United States. 

Reference: McCarthy , Michael. "People in US have poorer health and die younger than those in other rich countries." BMJ. 346.f215 (2013): n. page. Web. 29 Jan. 2013. .
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