[ExI] How to get a healthy country
J. Andrew Rogers
andrew at ceruleansystems.com
Tue Oct 16 19:38:26 UTC 2007
On Oct 16, 2007, at 4:20 AM, BillK wrote:
> OK, Japan, France, Iceland and Sweden, fine.
> But Cuba???? How did they do it?
> Cuba is a poor country and when people get sick, medicines and medical
> equipment are often in short supply.
> Their answer is low-tech preventive medicine. And it works.
> They have more doctors per capita than any other country.
> So better child care produces low infant mortality.
> Lots of doctors means early detection and prevention.
I was under the impression that prevention is greatly over-rated both
in terms of cost effectiveness and actual value to health, at least
when actually studied in economic terms. The level at which it makes
a difference is so low that it is not a substantial differentiator in
the industrialized world. That said, the reasons US disease survival
rates are much better than the rest of the industrialized world have
often been argued to be the result of excellent ubiquitous early
detection technology and treatment. So if early detection and
prevention mattered, the US should be leading the pack but clearly
the US is not.
> And, being poor, they can't afford the American diet.
Genetics and diet are probably responsible for the bulk of the
difference in the industrialized world; when you look at the enormous
variation in health and life expectancy across the individual US
states (perhaps a better control than comparing individual countries)
and correlate it with demographics and diet, the patterns make this
If you remove things like accidents from the death statistics (which
are atypically high in the US), you find that Americans are about the
longest lived people in the industrialized world. It is not because
Americans are particularly healthy, but that the survival rates for
many dangerous diseases (and particularly cancer) in the US often
dwarf that of the rest of the industrialized world. As an extreme
example that was in the news recently, an average person with cancer
in the US has a 30-35% higher survival rate than the average person
with cancer in the UK. As the population ages, factors like this
will matter greatly.
Americans in many parts of the country have crap diets, but then
compensate with superior early detection and treatment of significant
diseases. The healthiness of Americans has nothing to do with the
healthcare available to them.
J. Andrew Rogers
More information about the extropy-chat