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Saturday, November 05, 2005

Insightful lecture by Stephen Bezruchka

On Alternative Radio today.

The United States, the richest country in the world, currently ranks 27th in the health of its citizens. Lagging behind not only most of the rich countries, but a few poor ones as well. Fifty years ago, the US was among the top five. What happened in the past five decades to cause this decline? Bezruchka explains that an increasing stratification between the rich and the poor plays a major role. Life spans and infant mortality rates depend very much on the hierarchal structure of a society. And new research shows that half of what influences our health as adults is largely determined before the age of five. What can we learn from other countries whose citizens live longer and healthier lives?

To think about from the lecture:

  • Stratification hurts the rich as well as the poor - even the rich in America aren't as healthy as the rich in other, less-stratified countries
  • Impact of poverty, maternal stress on developing fetus (and young child) has life-long consequences, that stretch to the next generation --> health of the maternal grandmother when she was pregnant with mom is major determinant of health of child
  • To return to the top of the world for health status, America will have to focus on becoming 'a caring and sharing nation', and 'focus on good, not greed'
  • In Sweden they get 1 year of mat leave at 100% and an additional year optional at 80%, and then day care is staffed by people with masters' degrees - note to self, research immigration requirements for Sweden

Fascinating stuff. Must learn more.


Blogger The Un-Apologetic Atheist said...

Excellent points. I've been "preaching" this message to every American ear I could reach for about a decade, now. It simply astounds me that universal healthcare is so far beyond our horizon, let alone any real attempts to solve major health and family care problems for all our people, a la Sweden.

For the land of big dreams and freedom, we sure seem to lack both far too often (and I'd say too eagerly).

12:27 p.m.

Blogger T. Comfyshoes said...

w00t our first comment! Un-apologetic Atheist, you get a prize, as soon as I think of one.

And back on topic...

Even here in Canada there are people who don't think universal health care is all that great.

It's a real shame to me that lands of so-called freedom are going so far into individual freedom that they're casting responsibility to the rest of the community by the wayside.

As Dr. Bezruchka said, caring and sharing societies just plain do better. I get so frustrated when people, instead of focusing on that, run around saying, "waah I pay too much tax." As if contributing to the well-being of society as a whole is some undue hardship.

Of course, whether our tax money does in fact benefit society as a whole is worth its own whole blog :-(

5:35 p.m.


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