Wednesday, June 22, 2011

US Infant Mortality

I've known I should write about this for a year now, but I keep putting it off because it's such a grim subject. Well, I said in my last entry that I'd deal with this, and here it is.

Infant Mortality is defined as the number of deaths of babies under one year of age, per 1,000 live births. The infant mortality rate correlates very strongly with, and is among the best predictors of, state failure. IMR is therefore also a useful indicator of a country's level of health or development, and is a component of the physical quality of life index.

The CIA World Fact Book has a list here of Infant Mortality Rates for the nations of the world. There are 46 nations with lower IMR than that of the United States. Let's look at a few highlights from the roll call of shame.

USA has an IMR of 6.06

Greece, for all its troubles, has an IMR of 5.00
Canada has an IMR of 4.92
Cuba, (FFS!), has an IMR of 4.90

"Possum", you say, "one measly point doesn't impress me". OK, fine, let's move down the list a bit further.

Slovenia, for the love of god, has an IMR of 4.17
Ireland has an IMR of 3.85
Czech Republic has an IMR of 3.73
Italy has an IMR of 3.38
France is at 3.28
Hong Kong has an IMR of 2.90, less than half that of the USA. Are you disgusted yet?
Japan 2.78
Sweden 2.74
Bermuda 2.47
Singapore 2.32
Monaco tops the list, with the lowest Infant Mortality Rate in the world, at 1.79

Now, the naysayers will jump in with frantic denials founded on alleged inconsistencies in the manner of reporting data. That was a valid point prior to 2008, but no longer.

The only remaining inconsistency of any note is that Hong Kong and Japan still sometimes report deaths within the first 24 hours as still births rather than infant deaths. But in evaluating this, remember that IMR is deaths within the first year. And even if we totally discard the statistics from those two areas, that does nothing to invalidate the data from the other nations, such as Sweden, with IMR less than half of our own.

The USA has the most expensive healthcare system in the world, and the quality of the services we receive, (for those who even have access to healthcare), is for shit, by the standards of a first-world nation.

Fine, and now I've spent half a page giving you bad news on a thoroughly depressing subject. Now do you understand why I didn't want to write this?

So WTF are we going to do about it?

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