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Other Voices: Where U.S. health care tops all other systems

For those of you who live and die by a 10-year-old World Health Organization study, you may be surprised at the latest one.

The United States, according to the latest WHO study, ranks No. 1 among 191 countries for “responsiveness to the needs and choices of the individual patient.”

This could by why a majority of Americans oppose Congress’ health care reform bills.



Why does the U.S. rank so high? Cardiac deaths have fallen by two-thirds over the past 50 years. Polio has been virtually eradicated. Childhood leukemia has a high cure rate.

Eight of the top 10 medical advances in the past 20 years were developed or had roots in the U.S.




Other advantages:

• The Nobel prizes in medicine and physiology have been awarded to more Americans than to researchers in all other countries combined.

• Eight of the 10 top-selling drugs in the world were developed by U.S. companies.

• The U.S. has some of the highest breast, colon and prostate cancer survival rates in the world.

• And our country ranks first or second in the world in kidney transplants, liver transplants, heart transplants, total knee replacements, coronary artery bypass and percutaneous coronary interventions.

• Finally, we have the shortest waiting time for nonemergency surgery in the world: England has one of the longest. In Canada, a country of 35 million citizens, one million patients now wait for surgery and another million wait to see a specialist.

Yes, the U.S. spends more money for health care, but the majority goes to pay for a long list of advantages that American citizens now expect: the easiest access, the shortest waiting times, the widest choice of physicians, hospitals, and constant availability of health care to elderly Americans.

Anthony W. Halby lives in Nevada City.


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