Jan. 8, 2008 — The U.S. today finds itself last on a new list of countriesseeking to curb preventable deaths in people younger than 75.
Not only does the U.S. have the worst spot on that list, its rate ofimprovement is also slower than the other 18 industrialized nations included inthe study.
The U.S. might have been spared an estimated 101,000 deaths annually if itspreventable death rate matched that of the top-ranked countries, according tothe researchers, who included Ellen Nolte, PhD, of the London School of Hygieneand Tropical Medicine.
Their study appears in the January/February edition of HealthAffairs.
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Using data from the World Health Organization, the researchers comparedpreventable death rates among 19 countries during 1997-1998 and 2002-2003.
From 1997 to 1998, the U.S. had a high rate of preventable deaths, but itwasn’t the worst-ranked country on the list. By 2002-2003, preventable deathrates dropped in all 19 countries, including the U.S.
But the U.S. had had the mildest rate of decline — 4% — compared with a16% average decline among the other countries. That’s how the U.S. wound upwith the highest preventable death rate in 2002-2003.
Why did the U.S. lag in avoiding preventable deaths? The study doesn’tanswer that question. But the slow decline in U.S. preventable deaths “hascoincided with an increase in the uninsured population,” write theresearchers.
How the Nations Ranked
Here is the full list of how the 19 countries ranked in their 2002-2003preventable death rates:
- The Netherlands
- New Zealand