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New Lancet Study: United States Ranks Poorly in Preventing Death from Many Treatable Diseases

May 22, 2017 (EIRNS)—In a new study reported May 18, in The Lancet, the economic collapse and policy crisis in the United States is reflected in its comparatively poor and worsening record, in preventing fatalities from diseases that shouldn’t lead to early death. Titled, "Healthcare Access and Quality Index, Based on Mortality from Causes Amenable to Personal Health Care in 195 Countries and Territories, 1990-2015," the study involved dozens of collaborators internationally, in association with principal author, Dr. Christopher Murray, of Washington State. He described the U.S. results as "disturbing," to the Washington Post on May 18, saying, "people are not getting the care that should be expected for diseases with established treatments."

The researchers created an index involving 32 causes of death, by which they looked at the 195 countries over the 25-year period. They tried to exclude diseases and death rates closely associated with localized environmental features. The researchers report that their health-care quality index—the HAQ—

"provides a more comprehensive measure that reflects health-system capacity for effectively detecting risk for, managing, and preventing early death from a range of conditions."

The higher the index, scaled from 1 to 100, the more effective the national health care system.

The United States comes in at 80, which is down on the lowest level of the second (from the top) decile of nations, whose topmost rank includes Australia, Japan, Canada and most of Western Europe, save for Britain, which is likewise in decile two. For perspective, the extremes of the HAQ scores over time, go from 23 in Ethiopia in 1990, which then improved; and on the high end, over 90 as of 2015, in Switzerland, Sweden, Norway, and Iceland. Since 1990, 167 have improved out of the 195 nations studied, with the biggest improvement in China, Turkey and Peru.

Where the United States falls down, is having relatively high death rates for nine diseases whose fatality pattern can be much lower with proper treatment: hypertensive heart disease, chronic kidney disease, diabetes, ischemic heart disease, Hodgkin’s lymphoma, non-melanoma skin cancer, lower respiratory infections, neonatal disorders, and adverse complications from medical treatment.

In the case of the United States, the national patterns are glaring, and documented in county-level studies, of people not getting treatment under conditions of poverty, despair, long-travel distance to hospitals and the like. When death rates are factored in from drug overdoses, and fatalities from car accidents and injuries due to drugs and alcohol, the U.S. fall in life expectancy is dramatic. Dr. Murray’s Washington University-based Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation, first put out a 96-page report on this in 2013, pointing out then that, for example, U.S. women’s life expectancy remained level or dropped, in nearly 1,500 of the 3,000 U.S. counties, from 1985 to 2010. In 2013 EIR published county-by-county data on the health collapse in West Virginia and Oklahoma. Under the Bush and Obama years, the situation went from bad to worse. In 2012, a series of studies at Princeton University document this, show patterns of national fall in life expectancy for whole categories of the population.