WHO (World Health Organization)

World Health Report 2000

The USA… 72nd Best Health at the #1 Cost

HEALTH CARE COST IN THE US COMPARED TO OTHER COUNTRIES

Below is a condensation from the WHO June 2000 World Health Report that listed the health care system quality and personal level of health and documented the astounding poor scores of the US and other countries that use the US system. If you wish, you can look on the web for the full report (http://www.who.int/whr/previous/en/)/ Following are some statements from authorities who also comment on the poor quality of US “health care.” If we cannot refute WHO and these other highly respected authorities, isn’t it fair to ask if this US system is the likely cause of the suffering and early deaths of many after lengthy expensive ineffectual treatment with “treatments of choice” that employ synthetic drugs and forbid the use of essential nutrients (without which no recovery can occur) rejected as unprofitable?

The Rankings

The U.S. spends more total dollars and more dollars per capita on health care than any other nation. The WHO June 2000 World Health Report shows clearly that quality of health care is not necessarily improved by simply spending more money. The WHO data on health care quality rankings of 191 member nations gave very low scores to the U.S. and three other countries that have adopted the U.S. system: Australia, Canada, and New Zealand (hereafter called U.S. et al.). Their rankings were 37, 30, 32 and 41, respectively for overall health care quality. In a ranking level of actual health, the US and NZ were much worse, ranking 72 and 80, respectively. It is interesting that both NZ and US were ranked below Morocco, Chile, and Costa Rica. The probability the four nations (U.S. et al) would be grouped so closely together in a span of only 12 of 191 rankings (i.e., ~1/20th), and at such low scores, by chance, is extremely low, circa p~0.0001 [i.e., (~1/20) to the third power]. Thus, common factors related to health care are documented to astronomical probability as casual for this incredible human tragedy of modern times. Everyone you know is affected in many painful and costly ways.

The Decline in Health Care Quality

To establish some important temporal aspects of this decay in the US health system, in addition to WHO (1), we cite six prominent persons (2-6): The first is the following statement delivered at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, on 19 November 1970, by Mr. Thomas J. Watson, Jr., CEO of IBM (2):

“Let me start by asking a question that this great medical center brings to mind: How would you like to live in a country which, according to the figures available in the United States during the past two decades: has dropped from seventh in the world to sixteenth in the prevention of infant mortality; has dropped in female life expectancy from sixty to eights; has dropped in male life expectancy from tenth to twenty-fourth; and which has bought itself this unenviable trend by spending more if its gross national product for medical care ($1 out of every $14) than any other country on the face of the earth? You know the country I am talking about: Our own U.S.A., the home of the free, the home of the brave, and the home of a decrepit, ineffectual, high-priced system of medical care. Just look for a moment at what some of the figures mean. They mean that in infant mortality, we have been overtaken by France, the U.K., and Japan, that in male life expectancy we have been overtaken by France, Japan, West Germany, and Italy. I know experts can disagree over our precise international standing. And I realize that medical problems in the United States, Europe, and Japan are not identical. But the evidence overwhelmingly indicates that we are falling down on the job, heading in the wrong direction, and becoming as a nation a massive medical disgrace.”

The second is the paragraph below from a 1992 article (3) on health-care reform by Arnold S. Relman, MD, long-time editor-in-chief of NEJM: “In short, our health-care system, formerly a social service that was the responsibility of dedicated professionals and not-for-profit facilities, ahs become a vast, profit-oriented industry. The revenue of this industry constitutes the country’s health-care costs. As in any other industry, providers constantly strive to increase their profitable sales, but unlike other industries, consumers exercise little control over their consumption of products and services. It should not be surprising that such a system is afflicted not only with relentless inflation but also with neglect of the needs of the uninsured and with failure to promote the use of valuable but unprofitable health services.”

The third is an editorial by Marcia Angell, MD, (long-time editor and recent editor-in-chief of NEJM) entitled “Is Academic Medicine for Sale?” She discusses (4) numerous involved facets of industry influence that actually affect the fundamental views of physicians and the way they practice medicine (i.e., “As the critics of medicine so often charge, young physicians learn that for every problem, there is a pill …”). In support of the Angell editorial’s thesis, as epitomized by this quote, we show below examples of the countless tragedies dominating medicine because of the simplistic “pill” mindset that is unmindful of homeostasis, the literature, and the essential nutrients.

Angell’s editorial strongly supports, essentially verbatim, a warning made in 1983 by the fourth prominent immunologist Alan S. Levin, MD, JD* (5). His medical symposium presentation analyzed problems due to industrial control of medicine. He pointed out that a sample issue of possibly the world’s largest and most prestigious medical journal had 51 pages of scientific matter and 99 pages of industry ads. He said: industry is setting the standard of medical practice and has invaded the academic institutions; as much as two-thirds of the research funding in most major institutions comes directly or indirectly from industry interests; therefore, chemotherapy is dominant, and, unfortunately, immunotherapy is secondary. He added that: the market for (sorely needed) immunotherapy in the US is only $50 million while the market for (heavily advertised) antihistamines is about $2 billion; medicinals are more profitable than any other industrial product; the practice of medicine and our medical science are dictated by industry that is promoting its own financial welfare. His talk ended with the following excerpt:

“…this is no laughing matter…We are being taken over by…industry. It is using the academic institutions to do this. If you don’t think so, read any of the so-called peer-review journals, and you will realize that they are dominated by…industry.”

It has been wisely asserted that the matters most vital to the people including the expense, pain and sorrow endured, and their very survival have been systematically and relentlessly subordinated to business interests via influence on the quality and cost of medical care (2-8). The interests refuse to recognize even the tragic failure of the U.S. medical system, let alone existence of possible errors in accepted views of biology.

Finally, in an editorial, Stevens and Glastein have emphasized that our failures to cure the major diseases will not yield to more extravagant expenditures if we do not understand the biology (6): “Beware the Medical-Industrial Complex. ‘We must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military industrial complex.’ Farewell Address of Dwight D. Eisenhower, 34th President of the US, January 1961. If Ike were with us today, he might well expand his views on power and influence to include modern American medicine…Our true challenge…is to understand the biology…We must not be…another special interest come to drink at the well of public spending, but as advocates for the public good. If we fail…we will be unable to make any important long-term contribution to those who matter most – our patients.”

1.       “The World Health Report 2000” WHO ISBN 924156198X June 2000 http://www.who.int/whr2001/2001/archives/2000/en/index.htm

2.       T. J. Watson, Jr., Health service. J. Am. Soc. Prev. Dent. 3, 12-13 (1973).

3.       A. S. Relman, Reforming our health care system: a physician’s perspective. Phi Beta Kappa Key Reporter 58(3), 3-5 (1992).

4.       M. Angell, Is Academic Medicine for Sale? New Engl. J. Med., 342(20), 1516 (2000).

5.       J.P. Trowbridge, M. Walker, The Yeast Syndrome (Bantam, New York, 1986), pp. 72-77.

6.       C. W. Stevens, E. Glastein, Beware the Medical-Industrial Complex. The Oncologist 1(4), IV-V (1996).

7.       National Vital Statistics Report, Births and Deaths, 47, Part 4 (1997).

8.       L. J. Pauling, How to Live Longer and Feel Better. (Avon Books, New York, 1987).

*Levin is a Certified Diplomate of the Board of Allergy and Immunology and a Certified Dimplomate of both the Board of Pathology and the Board of Clinical Pathology, a Fellow of the American College of Pathologists, a Fellow of the American Society of Clinical Pathologists, a Fellow of the American Academy of Allergy and Immunology, a Fellow of the American Association of Clinical Chemists, a Fellow of the American College of Emergency Physicians, and a Fellow of the American Academy of Environmental Medicine.


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