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"If you value your health, don't trust the WHO (World Health Organization)."
July 7, 2000 6:05 AM   Subscribe

"If you value your health, don't trust the WHO (World Health Organization)." As you recall, there was a World Health Report 2000 issued, ranking US #37, behind Columbia, Malta and Oman.
posted by tiaka (7 comments total)

But put your trust in the judgement of the CATO Institute?

"The jury is in on the fact of global warming--it is real--but the jury is still out on the effects of the phenomenon. "The Satanic Gases," a new Cato book, marshals an array of scientific data, studies, and analyses to show that global warming will have neutral or even beneficial influence on factors including destructive weather, winter mortality, and food production.

LOL! Gotta love that smog...
posted by xiffix at 6:47 AM on July 7, 2000

Wow, that Cato thing was a rant with absolutely no substance.

While accusing the WHO report of being emotional and trendy it then went on to dismiss what are the most basic goals of a healthcare system...errr, for those who don't know what they might be I'd start with maintaining the health and well-being of the society that finances it in the fairest and most effective manner.

By these criterea the US system fails its citizens in ways that the systems in other industrialized (and third world) nations don't.

posted by lagado at 7:07 AM on July 7, 2000

Pretty much all CATO does is rant without substance. They are too dedicated to blind libertarianism to pay attention to "facts" and "reality."
posted by daveadams at 7:14 AM on July 7, 2000

I'd say the two main criticisms -- a) there's no real way to compare data from 190+ countries when there's such a hodgepodge of standards, definitions, and methods of collection, and b) even among the standards WHO uses, there's legitimate cause to question what goal is being advanced (the use of DALEs) -- are fairly substantive, regardless of ideology. Or am I missing something?

As to whether the US "system" fails its citizens... It's hard to say. Take what you'd think would be the most objective standard: life expectancy. Does the US have the highest life expectancy on the planet? No. Does that reflect a failure of the health system to diagnose and treat problems, or is it because Americans eat poorly and live in risky ways that not even extraordinary measures can amelioriate? I suppose if you expand "health system" to the point that it includes education and some sort of way of enforcing behavior, you might say that it's failing... But absent that, I'd say the health system is doing the best it can, given the self-destructive health habits of Anericans. {shrug}

Notice that the above analysis is finance-free: It doesn't matter who's paying for it, or what you feel about private vs. pubic finance of health care.

posted by aurelian at 11:26 AM on July 7, 2000

aurelian, now how exactly does pubic financing of health care work? :P
posted by lia at 12:34 AM on July 8, 2000

But I agree with the basic premise that it's a reductive comparison, especially given the considerable social disparity between systems in the developing world which address the problems of lack, and those of the developed world that deal with excess.

But for them to say that "a free-market health care system upholds the right of every person to make his own decisions" is patent bollocks. Since when did getting sick become a matter of choice? (Then again, my girlfriend said to me this week that she was waiting for her new health plan to kick in, so that she could get sick again. And she works in a hospital.)

And anyway, for them to say that "Patients are given choices, not issued numbers" suggests that they've never suffered under a HMO.
posted by holgate at 10:23 AM on July 8, 2000

ask any working girl on the street, lia... though I suspect it mostly works through typing fingers trailing in real time behind one's brain, same as usual... :)

holgate, there's a difference between choosing to get sick, and having choices available as how to decide to address the sickness.

But even then, many illnesses arise from choices made by the patient: unprotected sex, some forms of obeseity, insufficent exercise, drug-induced illnesses (of which alcohol and nicotine problems are a sub-set), even being in the health field, like your girlfriend. There are always trade-offs, and those behaviors have the risk of illness on one side of the equation. {shrug}

posted by aurelian at 11:00 PM on July 8, 2000

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