Terry McAteer: Something is seriously wrong in Glocca Morra
I don’t know about your Mother, but mine used to often ask “How Are Things in Glocca Morra?”
I never knew where Glocca Morra was but I knew it was something Irish and I was to interpret it as “how are things in general?”
I later learned that there was a 1940s song with that name from the Broadway Play “Finian’s Rainbow.”
If my mother were alive, I’d probably answer “Not too good these days, Mom. This country is terribly divided and recent stats I just read from the World Health Organization just shook me.”
According to the statistics, since 1990, the U.S. has been going in the wrong direction regarding life expectancy and maternal care. All other developed countries in the world are reducing the mortality of mothers during childbirth, while the U.S. and Serbia are the only two whose rate is increasing.
These days you rarely ever hear of women dying before, during or after childbirth. I thought the U.S. would be very low in this category but, in fact, 37 counties have a lower maternal death rate than the U.S. women. Bulgaria, Poland, Ireland and Greece all have half the rate of death during pregnancy than that of the U.S.
The disparity is more pronounced if looked at in a state-by-state comparison: California has the lowest maternal death rate in the country (Nevada and Massachusetts are a close second and third). In fact, our rate is comparable to most Western European countries. But eight times the rate of death, as compared to our state, would find you living in Georgia, Louisiana, Texas, New Jersey or Indiana.
I was left aghast that the wealthiest nation on earth would have expectant mothers die at a higher rate than most of the developed world. A look inside the stats tells a disturbing tale that pregnant women with no prenatal medical care are four times more likely to die than those women who have medical care. Secondly, the number one cause of death during childbirth is a heart attack, primarily due to obesity.
In the same vein, the report also noted that the United States pays nearly $9,000 per person, per year in medical costs. This is twice the rate of the major industrialized nations. That $9,000 is not solving the problem, as the U.S. is the only nation in the industrialized world whose life expectancy is going down.
Yes, we pay twice as much for medical care and live a shorter lifespan than our fellow citizens of first world nations.
To think that I, on average, will live longer than my children is very disconcerting. Throughout its history, the United States has been raising its life expectancy rates, now to reach the age of 79 for most men. However, as Americans, we will now live an average of four years fewer than our counterparts in other first world nations — mainly in Europe.
This is not a diatribe on the pros or cons of socialized medicine or an indictment of our medical profession. This is just a factual look at a few important health indicators. Obviously, stats can be read in various lights, but to know that more U.S. women die in childbirth should be troubling to all Americans.
Something is definitely wrong in Glocca Morra!
Terry McAteer is a member of The Union Editorial Board. His views are his own and do not represent the views of The Union or its editorial board members. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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