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America Will Fall Behind Other Industrialized Nations In Life Expectancy

By Dr. Sawraj Singh

A study done by the Imperial College London and the World Health Organization showed that by 2030 America will lag behind the other industrialized countries in life expectancy. Out of the 35 industrialized countries America will move to the bottom. South Korea will move to the top. South Korean women will be the first in the world to have a life expectancy above 90. South Korean men will also move to the first place. The reasons for this achievement are; South Korea has more equality and things like education and nutrition have benefited most people. It has one of the lowest rates of obesity in the world and has better management of hypertension. Japan will also fall behind in life expectancy for both men and women. It used to be on the top for women and in the fourth place for men. It will move to the 4th place for women and to the 11th place for men.                                                                                                                                                  High inequality in the US and lack of universal health coverage were given as the main reasons for the lowest life expectancy among the rich countries. Even a country like Chile will move ahead of the US in women’s life expectancy by the year 2030. Among the rich countries US is the first country which has stopped growing taller. This shows that something is not right about early nutrition. I was a practicing doctor in America for more than 40 years. I had the biggest difficulty in convincing my colleagues that the American health care is not the best in the world. In spite of all the comparative studies proving the contrary, they continued to believe that America provides the best health care in the world.                                                                                                                                                          There was a study done jointly by the British and US governments comparing the health of the people in both countries. It showed that health of the British people was much better than the American people. Another study compared the health of the Americans with the Canadians. Again this study proved that the Canadians were much healthier than the Americans. Still another study compared the health of the Americans with the health of people in the other industrialized nations. This study showed that the Americans were the unhealthiest people among all the industrialized nations.                                                                                                                                                             Basically, the present study reinforces the previous studies. Life expectancy is a very good indicator of the health of people in that country. However, this study goes beyond the previous studies. It shows that not only America will fall behind all the industrialized nations but some of the third world countries such as Chile and Mexico will have longer life expectancy than America by the year 2030.                                                                                                                    America spends much more its percentage of GDP on healthcare than any other country in the world. It spends about 16% of its GDP on healthcare as compared to about 8% by the other industrialized nations. In spite of that Americans are unhealthier compared to the people in other industrialized countries.  What can be the reasons for this? The two reasons given in this study seem to be correct. The first, there is more inequality in healthcare in America compared to the other countries. There are studies available which show that the poor and the minorities such as the Blacks, the Latinos and the Native Americans receive much lower quality of care than the rich and the Whites. This brings the overall health statics down. The second, there is no universal health coverage in America. There used to be about 50 million Americans without any health coverage. Obama care promised to make health care available to everybody. However, the latest figures show that still there are about 30 million Americans who have no health insurance. Then there are many more without adequate coverage.                                                                                                                                                                 Americans who were influenced by the propaganda of American Exceptioalism and were made to believe that America is the best should look at the facts.  It is better to face reality than live under illusion and humility is a virtue whereas arrogance is a vice. Healthy self criticism is very helpful. Constructive criticism is much better than false praise. I have met people from many countries. America has more admirers among Indians than in any people from any other country. There is nothing wrong in admiring America or any other country and its people . However, this should be based upon facts.

Dr. Sawraj Singh, MD F.I.C.S. is the Chairman of the Washington State Network for Human Rights and Chairman of the Central Washington Coalition for Social Justice. He can be reached at sawrajsingh@hotmail.com.

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