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 Four Resources Below:

(1) Associated Press: US now trails 41other nations in life expectancy.

(2) New York Times: World's Best Medical Care.

(3) Timeline for humans, in history.

(4) List of countries by life expectancy

U.S. now trails 41 other nations in life expectancy
Lack of national health insurance often cited, but, 'it's not that simple'
8-12-2007
THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
"Something's wrong here when one of the richest countries in the world, the one that spends the most on health care, is not able to keep up with other countries."
Dr. Christopher Murray, University of Washington
WASHINGTON — Americans are living longer than ever, but not as long as people in 41 other countries.
For decades, the United States has been slipping in international rankings of life expectancy, as other countries improve health care, nutrition and lifestyles.
Countries that surpass the U.S. include Japan and most of Europe, as well as Jordan and the Cayman Islands.
"Something's wrong here when one of the richest countries in the world, the one that spends the most on health care, is not able to keep up with other countries," said Dr. Christopher Murray, head of the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington.
77.9 years average in U.S.
A baby born in the United States in 2004 will live an average of 77.9 years.
That life expectancy ranks 42nd, down from 11th two decades earlier, according to international numbers provided by the Census Bureau and domestic numbers from the National Center for Health Statistics.
Andorra, a tiny country in the Pyrenees mountains between France and Spain, had the longest life expectancy, at 83.5 years, according to the Census Bureau. It was followed by Japan, Macau, San Marino and Singapore.
The shortest life expectancies were clustered in sub-Saharan Africa, a region that has been hit hard by an epidemic of HIV and AIDS, as well as famine and civil strife.
Swaziland brings up the rear
Swaziland has the shortest, at 34.1 years, followed by Zambia, Angola, Liberia and Zimbabwe.
Researchers said several factors have contributed to the United States falling behind other industrialized nations.
A major one is that 45 million Americans lack health insurance, while Canada and many European countries have universal health care, they say.
But, "It's not as simple as saying we don't have national health insurance," said Sam Harper, an epidemiologist at McGill University in Montreal. "It's not that easy."
Among the other factors:
● Adults in the United States have one of the highest obesity rates in the world.
Nearly a third of U.S. adults 20 years and older are obese, while about two-thirds are overweight, according to the National Center for Health Statistics.
"The U.S. has the resources that allow people to get fat and lazy," said Paul Terry, an assistant professor of epidemiology at Emory University in Atlanta.
"We have the luxury of choosing a bad lifestyle as opposed to having one imposed on us by hard times."
● Racial disparities. Black Americans have an average life expectancy of 73.3 years, five years shorter than white Americans.
Black American males have a life expectancy of 69.8 years, slightly longer than the averages for Iran and Syria and slightly shorter than in Nica-ragua and Morocco.
● A relatively high percentage of babies born in the U.S. die before their first birthday, compared with other industrialized nations.
Forty countries, including Cuba, Taiwan and most of Europe had lower infant mortality rates than the U.S. in 2004.
Social conditions a factor
The U.S. rate was 6.8 deaths for every 1,000 live births. It was 13.7 for black Americans, the same as Saudi Arabia.
"It really reflects the social conditions in which African American women grow up and have children," said Dr. Marie C. McCormick, professor of maternal and child health at the Harvard School of Public Health.
"We haven't done anything to eliminate those disparities."
Another reason for the U.S. drop in the ranking is that the Census Bureau now tracks life expectancy for a lot more countries — 222 in 2004 — than it did in the 1980s.
But that does not explain why so many countries entered the rankings with longer life expectancies than the U.S.
Murray, from the University of Washington, said improved access to health insurance could increase life expectancy.
But he predicted the U.S. won't move up in the world rankings as long as the healthcare debate is limited to insurance.
Policymakers also should focus on ways to reduce cancer, heart disease and lung disease, said Murray.
He advocates stepped-up efforts to reduce tobacco use, control blood pressure, reduce cholesterol and regulate blood sugar.
"Even if we focused only on those four things, we would go along way toward improving health care in the United States," Murray said.
"The starting point is the recognition that the U.S. does not have the best healthcare system.
"There are still an awful lot of people who think it does," he said.
Find stories and webcasts on health issues at azstarnet.com/health
"Something's wrong here when one of the richest countries in the world, the one that spends the most on health care, is not able to keep up with other countries."
Dr. Christopher Murray, University of Washington

__________________________________________________________

August 12, 2007
Editorial

World’s Best Medical Care?

Many Americans are under the delusion that we have “the best health care system in the world,” as President Bush sees it, or provide the “best medical care in the world,” as Rudolph Giuliani declared last week. That may be true at many top medical centers. But the disturbing truth is that this country lags well behind other advanced nations in delivering timely and effective care.

Michael Moore struck a nerve in his new documentary, “Sicko,” when he extolled the virtues of the government-run health care systems in France, England, Canada and even Cuba while deploring the failures of the largely private insurance system in this country. There is no question that Mr. Moore overstated his case by making foreign systems look almost flawless. But there is a growing body of evidence that, by an array of pertinent yardsticks, the United States is a laggard not a leader in providing good medical care.

Seven years ago, the World Health Organization made the first major effort to rank the health systems of 191 nations. France and Italy took the top two spots; the United States was a dismal 37th. More recently, the highly regarded Commonwealth Fund has pioneered in comparing the United States with other advanced nations through surveys of patients and doctors and analysis of other data. Its latest report, issued in May, ranked the United States last or next-to-last compared with five other nations — Australia, Canada, Germany, New Zealand and the United Kingdom — on most measures of performance, including quality of care and access to it. Other comparative studies also put the United States in a relatively bad light.

Insurance coverage. All other major industrialized nations provide universal health coverage, and most of them have comprehensive benefit packages with no cost-sharing by the patients. The United States, to its shame, has some 45 million people without health insurance and many more millions who have poor coverage. Although the president has blithely said that these people can always get treatment in an emergency room, many studies have shown that people without insurance postpone treatment until a minor illness becomes worse, harming their own health and imposing greater costs.

Access. Citizens abroad often face long waits before they can get to see a specialist or undergo elective surgery. Americans typically get prompter attention, although Germany does better. The real barriers here are the costs facing low-income people without insurance or with skimpy coverage. But even Americans with above-average incomes find it more difficult than their counterparts abroad to get care on nights or weekends without going to an emergency room, and many report having to wait six days or more for an appointment with their own doctors.

Fairness. The United States ranks dead last on almost all measures of equity because we have the greatest disparity in the quality of care given to richer and poorer citizens. Americans with below-average incomes are much less likely than their counterparts in other industrialized nations to see a doctor when sick, to fill prescriptions or to get needed tests and follow-up care.

Healthy lives. We have known for years that America has a high infant mortality rate, so it is no surprise that we rank last among 23 nations by that yardstick. But the problem is much broader. We rank near the bottom in healthy life expectancy at age 60, and 15th among 19 countries in deaths from a wide range of illnesses that would not have been fatal if treated with timely and effective care. The good news is that we have done a better job than other industrialized nations in reducing smoking. The bad news is that our obesity epidemic is the worst in the world.

Quality. In a comparison with five other countries, the Commonwealth Fund ranked the United States first in providing the “right care” for a given condition as defined by standard clinical guidelines and gave it especially high marks for preventive care, like Pap smears and mammograms to detect early-stage cancers, and blood tests and cholesterol checks for hypertensive patients. But we scored poorly in coordinating the care of chronically ill patients, in protecting the safety of patients, and in meeting their needs and preferences, which drove our overall quality rating down to last place. American doctors and hospitals kill patients through surgical and medical mistakes more often than their counterparts in other industrialized nations.

Life and death. In a comparison of five countries, the United States had the best survival rate for breast cancer, second best for cervical cancer and childhood leukemia, worst for kidney transplants, and almost-worst for liver transplants and colorectal cancer. In an eight-country comparison, the United States ranked last in years of potential life lost to circulatory diseases, respiratory diseases and diabetes and had the second highest death rate from bronchitis, asthma and emphysema. Although several factors can affect these results, it seems likely that the quality of care delivered was a significant contributor.

Patient satisfaction. Despite the declarations of their political leaders, many Americans hold surprisingly negative views of their health care system. Polls in Europe and North America seven to nine years ago found that only 40 percent of Americans were satisfied with the nation’s health care system, placing us 14th out of 17 countries. In recent Commonwealth Fund surveys of five countries, American attitudes stand out as the most negative, with a third of the adults surveyed calling for rebuilding the entire system, compared with only 13 percent who feel that way in Britain and 14 percent in Canada.

That may be because Americans face higher out-of-pocket costs than citizens elsewhere, are less apt to have a long-term doctor, less able to see a doctor on the same day when sick, and less apt to get their questions answered or receive clear instructions from a doctor. On the other hand, Gallup polls in recent years have shown that three-quarters of the respondents in the United States, in Canada and in Britain rate their personal care as excellent or good, so it could be hard to motivate these people for the wholesale change sought by the disaffected.

Use of information technology. Shockingly, despite our vaunted prowess in computers, software and the Internet, much of our health care system is still operating in the dark ages of paper records and handwritten scrawls. American primary care doctors lag years behind doctors in other advanced nations in adopting electronic medical records or prescribing medications electronically. This makes it harder to coordinate care, spot errors and adhere to standard clinical guidelines.

Top-of-the-line care. Despite our poor showing in many international comparisons, it is doubtful that many Americans, faced with a life-threatening illness, would rather be treated elsewhere. We tend to think that our very best medical centers are the best in the world. But whether this is a realistic assessment or merely a cultural preference for the home team is difficult to say. Only when better measures of clinical excellence are developed will discerning medical shoppers know for sure who is the best of the best.

With health care emerging as a major issue in the presidential campaign and in Congress, it will be important to get beyond empty boasts that this country has “the best health care system in the world” and turn instead to fixing its very real defects. The main goal should be to reduce the huge number of uninsured, who are a major reason for our poor standing globally. But there is also plenty of room to improve our coordination of care, our use of computerized records, communications between doctors and patients, and dozens of other factors that impair the quality of care. The world’s most powerful economy should be able to provide a health care system that really is the best.

__________________________________________________________

Timeline for humans

Homo sapiens live on average 32.6 years in Swaziland and on average 81 years in Australia. The oldest confirmed recorded age for any human is 122 years, though some people are reported to have lived longer. Although there are several longevity myths mostly in different stories that were spread in some cultures, there are no scientific proofs for man living for hundreds of years at any point of time. The following information is derived from the Encyclopaedia Britannica, 1961, as well as other sources:

Humans by Era Average Lifespan
(years)
Comment
Neanderthal 20 Homo neanderthalensis is a similar species of modern humans but is still in any case a fellow member of the genus Homo.
Upper Paleolithic 33 At age 15: 39 (to age 54)
Neolithic 20  
Bronze Age 18  
Classical Greece 20-30  
Classical Rome 20-30  
Pre-Colombian North America 25-35  
Medieval Britain 20-30  
Early 20th Century 30-40  
Current world average 67

 

 

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List of countries by life expectancy

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

This is a list of countries by life expectancy at birth, the average number of years to be lived by a group of people born in the same year, if mortality at each age remains constant in the future. The entry includes total population as well as the male and female components. Several non-sovereign entities are also included in this list. Figures are from the 2006 revision of the United Nations World Population Prospects report, for the period 2005-2010. Only countries/territories with a population of 100,000 or more in 2007 are included.

The life expectancy (both sexes, at birth) ranges from 82.6 years in Japan to 39.2 years in Swaziland. Many of the countries with the lowest life expectancies, namely Swaziland, Botswana, Lesotho, Zimbabwe, Zambia, Mozambique, Malawi, South Africa, Central African Republic, Namibia, and Guinea-Bissau, are suffering from very high rates of HIV/AIDS infection, with adult prevalence rates ranging from 10 to 38 percent. Also note that in countries with high infant mortality rates, the life expectancy at birth will be lower and may not reflect the life expectancy a person who has survived his/her first year of life would have.

Rank   Country/territory   Life expectancy at birth (years)  
Overall Male Female
  World average 67.2 65.0 69.5
1 Japan 82.6 79.0 86.1
2 Hong Kong (PRC) 82.2 79.4 85.1
3 Iceland 81.8 80.2 83.3
4 Switzerland 81.7 79.0 84.2
5 Australia 81.2 78.9 83.6
6 Spain 80.9 77.7 84.2
7 Sweden 80.9 78.7 83.0
8 Israel 80.7 78.5 82.8
9 Macau (PRC) 80.7 78.5 82.8
10 France (metropolitan) 80.7 77.1 84.1
11 Canada 80.7 78.3 82.9
12 Italy (20% above world average) 80.5 77.5 83.5
13 New Zealand 80.2 78.2 82.2
14 Norway 80.2 77.8 82.5
15 Singapore 80.0 78.0 81.9
16 Austria 79.8 76.9 82.6
17 Netherlands 79.8 77.5 81.9
18 Martinique 79.5 76.5 82.3
19 Greece 79.5 77.1 81.9
20 Belgium 79.4 76.5 82.3
21 Malta 79.4 77.3 81.3
22 United Kingdom 79.4 77.2 81.6
23 Germany 79.4 76.5 82.1
24 U.S. Virgin Islands (US) 79.4 75.5 83.3
25 Finland 79.3 76.1 82.4
26 Guadeloupe 79.2 76.0 82.2
27 Channel Islands (Jersey and Guernsey) 79.0 76.6 81.5
28 Cyprus 79.0 76.5 81.6
29 Republic of Ireland 78.9 76.5 81.3
30 Costa Rica 78.8 76.5 81.2
31 Puerto Rico (US) 78.7 74.7 82.7
32 Luxembourg 78.7 75.7 81.6
33 United Arab Emirates 78.7 77.2 81.5
34 South Korea 78.6 75.0 82.2
35 Chile 78.6 75.5 81.5
36 Denmark 78.3 76.0 80.6
37 Cuba 78.3 76.2 80.4
38 United States 78.2 75.6 80.8
39 Portugal 78.1 75.0 81.2
40 Slovenia 77.9 74.1 81.5
41 Kuwait 77.6 76.0 79.9
42 Barbados 77.3 74.4 79.8
43 Brunei 77.1 75.0 79.7
44 Czech Republic 76.5 73.4 79.5
45 Réunion 76.4 72.3 80.5
46 Albania 76.4 73.4 79.7
47 Uruguay 76.4 72.8 79.9
48 Mexico 76.2 73.7 78.6
49 Belize 76.1 73.3 79.2
50 New Caledonia (France) 76.1 72.8 79.7
51 French Guiana 75.9 72.5 79.9
52 Croatia 75.7 72.3 79.2
53 Oman 75.6 74.2 77.5
54 Bahrain 75.6 74.3 77.5
55 Qatar 75.6 75.2 76.4
56 Poland 75.6 71.3 79.8
57 Panama 75.5 73.0 78.2
58 Guam (US) 75.5 73.3 77.9
59 Argentina 75.3 71.6 79.1
60 Netherlands Antilles (Netherlands) 75.1 71.3 78.8
61 Ecuador 75.0 72.1 78.0
62 Bosnia and Herzegovina 74.9 72.2 77.4
63 Slovakia 74.7 70.7 78.5
64 Montenegro 74.5 72.4 76.8
65 Vietnam 74.2 72.3 76.2
66 Malaysia 74.2 72.0 76.7
67 Aruba (Netherlands) 74.2 71.3 77.1
68 Republic of Macedonia 74.2 71.8 76.6
69 Syria 74.1 72.3 76.1
70 French Polynesia (France) 74.1 71.7 76.8
71 Serbia 74.0 71.7 76.3
72 Libya 74.0 71.7 76.9
73 Tunisia (10% above world average) 73.9 71.9 76.0
74 Venezuela 73.7 70.9 76.8
75 Saint Lucia 73.7 71.8 75.6
76 Bahamas 73.5 70.6 76.3
77 Palestinian territories 73.4 71.8 75.0
78 Hungary 73.3 69.2 77.4
79 Tonga 73.3 72.3 74.3
80 Bulgaria 73.0 69.5 76.7
81 Lithuania 73.0 67.5 78.3
82 People's Republic of China 73.0 71.3 74.8
83 Nicaragua 72.9 69.9 76.0
84 Colombia 72.9 69.2 76.6
85 Mauritius 72.8 69.5 76.2
86 Saudi Arabia 72.8 70.9 75.3
87 Latvia 72.7 67.3 77.7
88 Jamaica 72.6 70.0 75.2
89 Jordan 72.5 70.8 74.5
90 Romania 72.5 69.0 76.1
91 Sri Lanka 72.4 68.8 76.2
92 Brazil 72.4 68.8 76.1
93 Algeria 72.3 70.9 73.7
94 Dominican Republic 72.2 69.3 75.5
95 Lebanon 72.0 69.9 74.2
96 Armenia 72.0 68.4 75.1
97 El Salvador 71.9 68.8 74.9
98 Turkey 71.8 69.4 74.3
99 Paraguay 71.8 69.7 73.9
100 Philippines 71.7 69.5 73.9
101 Cape Verde 71.7 68.3 74.5
102 Saint Vincent and the Grenadines 71.6 69.5 73.8
103 Samoa 71.5 68.5 74.8
104 Peru 71.4 68.9 74.0
105 Estonia 71.4 65.9 76.8
106 Egypt 71.3 69.1 73.6
107 Morocco 71.2 69.0 73.4
108 Georgia 71.0 67.1 74.8
109 Iran 71.0 69.4 72.6
110 Indonesia 70.7 68.7 72.7
111 Thailand 70.6 66.5 75.0
112 Guatemala 70.3 66.7 73.8
113 Suriname 70.2 67.0 73.6
114 Honduras 70.2 66.9 73.7
115 Vanuatu 70.0 68.3 72.1
116 Trinidad and Tobago 69.8 67.8 71.8
117 Belarus 69.0 63.1 75.2
118 Moldova 68.9 65.1 72.5
119 Fiji 68.8 66.6 71.1
120 Grenada 68.7 67.0 70.3
121 Federated States of Micronesia 68.5 67.7 69.3
122 Maldives 68.5 67.6 69.5
123 Ukraine 67.9 62.1 73.8
124 Azerbaijan 67.5 63.8 71.2
125 North Korea 67.3 65.1 69.3
126 Uzbekistan (world average) 67.2 64.0 70.4
127 Kazakhstan 67.0 61.6 72.4
128 Guyana 66.8 64.2 69.9
129 Mongolia 66.8 63.9 69.9
130 Tajikistan 66.7 64.1 69.4
131 Western Sahara 65.9 64.3 68.1
132 Kyrgyzstan 65.9 62.0 69.9
133 Bhutan 65.6 64.0 67.5
134 Bolivia 65.6 63.4 67.7
135 Sao Tome and Principe 65.5 63.6 67.4
136 Pakistan 65.5 65.2 65.8
137 Russia 65.5 59.0 72.6
138 Comoros 65.2 63.0 67.4
139 India 64.7 63.2 66.4
140 Laos 64.4 63.0 65.8
141 Mauritania 64.2 62.4 66.0
142 Bangladesh 64.1 63.2 65.0
143 Nepal 63.8 63.2 64.2
144 Solomon Islands 63.6 62.7 64.5
145 Turkmenistan 63.2 59.0 67.5
146 Senegal 63.1 61.0 65.1
147 Yemen 62.7 61.1 64.3
148 Myanmar 62.1 59.0 65.3
149 Haiti 60.9 59.1 62.8
150 East Timor (10% below world average) 60.8 60.0 61.7
151 Ghana 60.0 59.6 60.5
152 Cambodia 59.7 57.3 61.9
153 Iraq 59.5 57.8 61.5
154 Gambia 59.4 58.6 60.3
155 Madagascar 59.4 57.7 61.3
156 Sudan 58.6 57.1 60.1
157 Togo 58.4 56.7 60.1
158 Eritrea 58.0 55.6 60.3
159 Papua New Guinea 57.2 54.6 60.4
160 Niger 56.9 57.8 56.0
161 Gabon 56.7 56.4 57.1
162 Benin 56.7 55.6 57.8
163 Guinea 56.0 54.4 57.6
164 Republic of the Congo 55.3 54.0 56.6
165 Djibouti 54.8 53.6 56.0
166 Mali 54.5 52.1 56.6
167 Kenya (20% below world average) 54.1 53.0 55.2
168 Ethiopia 52.9 51.7 54.3
169 Namibia 52.9 52.5 53.1
170 Tanzania 52.5 51.4 53.6
171 Burkina Faso 52.3 50.7 53.8
172 Equatorial Guinea 51.6 50.4 52.8
173 Uganda 51.5 50.8 52.2
174 Botswana 50.7 50.5 50.7
175 Chad 50.6 49.3 52.0
176 Cameroon 50.4 50.0 50.8
177 Burundi 49.6 48.1 51.0
178 South Africa 49.3 48.8 49.7
179 Côte d'Ivoire 48.3 47.5 49.3
180 Malawi 48.3 48.1 48.4
181 Somalia 48.2 46.9 49.4
182 Nigeria (30% below world average) 46.9 46.4 47.3
183 Democratic Republic of the Congo 46.5 45.2 47.7
184 Guinea-Bissau 46.4 44.9 47.9
185 Rwanda 46.2 44.6 47.8
186 Liberia 45.7 44.8 46.6
187 Central African Republic 44.7 43.3 46.1
188 Afghanistan 43.8 43.9 43.8
189 Zimbabwe 43.5 44.1 42.6
190 Angola 42.7 41.2 44.3
191 Lesotho 42.6 42.9 42.3
192 Sierra Leone 42.6 41.0 44.1
193 Zambia 42.4 42.1 42.5
194 Mozambique 42.1 41.7 42.4
195 Swaziland (40% below world average) 39.6 39.8 39.4

 

 

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