It is hard to believe that the U.S., a country that spends more per person on health than any other nation on the planet, comes in at number 37. But the WHO's rankings were based on the quality of the health delivery system in place, not the marketing costs of delivering that system.
The WHO study used five performance measures: life expectancy (U.S. ranks 24th); child survival rates; health care responsiveness; minority health care; and health care financing.
Nearly 14 percent of the U.S. gross domestic product is spent on health-related costs.
Heart disease, cancer, lung disease and diabetes are the top four causes of death in the U.S. (accounting for 72 percent of deaths in this country), and it doesn't appear that we are gaining much ground in controlling these diseases.
Our very expensive drug-based system is not reducing the rate at which chronic and degenerative conditions plague this country. The media constantly touts all the "medical breakthroughs," but where are the results? What does this country really have to show when it comes to health care?
The United States Congress has begun to ask tough questions about our approach to disease and its obvious limited success. The House Committee on Government Reform recently met to examine "cancer care in the new millennium," and how alternative and medical care each combine to offer the best we have (interesting concept). Congressman Dan Burton (R-Indiana) heads a group that is talking to the FDA, the Health Care Finance Administration, the National Cancer Institute, and others.
Why is our approach to fighting cancer and other degenerative conditions not working? And what about alternative health care?
Medical care has its place, but it is obviously not providing all the answers needed to improve our quality of life. We know that more people are taking matters of health into their own hands and seeking alternative health care practitioners. The WHO report is certainly compelling. It underlines the need to get a better return on our health care dollars. One way to do that is to include natural health and wellness care in the equation and give patients greater access to alternative health care. The only question remaining: Are you ready to provide the care?
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