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News > World

US Residents Die at Shocking Rates From Preventable Diseases

  • Demonstrators protest a proposed repeal of the Affordable Care Act.

    Demonstrators protest a proposed repeal of the Affordable Care Act. | Photo: Reuters

Published 20 May 2017

The U.S. health care system is tied with Estonia and Montenegro, far below other wealthy and even poorer nations.

Economically, U.S. residents live in the wealthiest country on earth. The U.S. military behemoth surpasses that of China, Russia, Saudi Arabia, India, France, United Kingdom, Japan and Germany combined. Nevertheless, the nation's overwhelming dominance in these "strategic" sectors has done little to nothing to prevent residents from dying at shockingly high rates from preventable causes.

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A global health study published in the Lancet medical journal on Thursday established a Healthcare Access and Quality, HAQ, index. It outlines access to medical care and subsequent deaths in countries around the world. 

Dr. Christopher Murray, director of the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) at the University of Washington and senior author of the study, said that “America's ranking is an embarrassment, especially considering that the U.S. spends more than US$9,000 per person on healthcare annually, more than any other country.

He added that, “Anyone with a stake in the current healthcare debate, including elected officials at the federal, state, and local levels, should take a look at where the U.S. is falling short.”

In the study's ranking of 195 countries, the current U.S. health care system was tied with Estonia and Montenegro, far below other wealthy and even some poorer nations.

Professor Martin McKee of the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine also participated in the study. He said that using preventable deaths as a measure of health quality was not, in of itself, groundbreaking research.

However, he emphasized that what made this study so important was its sheer scope, “drawing on the vast data resources assembled by the Global Burden of Disease team to go beyond earlier work in rich countries to cover the entire world in great detail, as well as the development of a means to assess what a country should be able to achieve."

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According to Common Dreams, causes of death measured by the research included tuberculosis, diarrhea-related diseases, lower and upper respiratory infections, leukemia, breast cancer, Hodgkin's lymphoma, measles, tetanus, appendicitis, epilepsy, diabetes and others.

While the U.S. performs well in its treatment of diseases such as diphtheria and measles, it fails horribly in nine other medical conditions that result in death.

The Washington Post reported that these conditions include lower respiratory infections, neonatal disorders, non-melanoma skin cancer, Hodgkin's lymphoma, ischemic heart disease, hypertensive heart disease, diabetes, chronic kidney disease and the adverse effects of medical treatment itself."

Dr Murray's conclusion, “Having a strong economy does not guarantee good healthcare. Having great medical technology doesn't either. We know this because people are not getting the care that should be expected for diseases with established treatments."

As the old saying goes, universal health care remains to be a privilege, not a human right, for most U.S. residents. 

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