Global health metrics applied to US life expectancy by location | 

Guest post by Katie Leach-Kemon, a policy translation specialist from the University of Washington’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation.

This blog is primarily devoted to health and development issues in poor countries, but global health is global. So today we focus on the country with the highest health spending in the world, the United States.

Researchers at the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) found that some counties in the US have life expectancies that resemble countries with much fewer resources. For example, in McDowell County, West Virginia, male life expectancy (64 years) is lower than life expectancy in Bangladesh while females in Sunflower County, Mississippi have a life expectancy (74 years) that is lower than females in Algeria.

Note: Recreate this map by choosing the following options from the drop down menus: “Life expectancy” from “Display,” “Male” from “Sex,” “McDowell County” from “Find county,” and “2010” from “Year.”

In contrast, counties with the highest life expectancies in the US, such as Fairfax County, Virginia for males (82) and Marin County, California for females (85 years), are greater or equal to countries with the highest life expectancies in the world, such as Switzerland and Japan for males and Spain and France for females. Go to this link of live data visualization tool highlighting counties with the lowest male and highest female life expectancies.

In addition to finding massive disparities in life expectancy at the county level, IHME researchers found the gap between counties with the highest life expectancies and lowest life expectancies has widened over time. In 1985, the gap was nine years for females and nearly 12 years for males, but increased to 12 and 18 years, respectively, in 2010. Continue reading

What people in Senegal want from the United States | 

President Obama’s first stop on his Africa tour is Senegal. We can’t say for sure what the President hopes to gain out of the visit. What about people in Senegal? GlobalPost sat down with a group of young men in advance of Obama’s trip to share some tea and find out what they think.

Give the short video a watch:

US graded low on child well-being, UNICEF says | 

UNICEF has put out an analysis and interactive mapping tool ranking the wealthier countries on how they do when it comes to child well-being. The US is right down there in the bottom third of this report card, with Lithuania and Romania. Go Team America! (Below is just a screen grab. Go to link)

UNICEF child well-being report card


Last Ditch Effort to Preserve US Global Health R&D Spending | 

header-ghtc-logoWashington DC - Sequestration hits the US federal budget on Friday. The Washington Post features a countdown to Friday on the front page each day. News reports and the talk around town radiates a certainty that the across the board budget cuts will go through on Friday.

That fact is not dissuading global health activists from warning of the harm caused by budget losses. A group of activists descended upon the US capital to meet with lawmakers and issue a congressional briefing on the setback to global health research that the cuts pose.

Among those pushing lawmakers to maintain the US’ leadership in the global fight against the diseases poverty is the Global Health Technologies Coalition (GHTC), which issued a report outlining the ways that the US can continue to be a global health research leader. The group is funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and housed within Seattle-based PATH, an organization that specializes in finding technological solutions to health problems in poor countries. Continue reading

10 myths about foreign aid, two views | 

Tom Murphy at A View from the Cave adds his five myths about foreign aid to the Center for American Progress’ John Norris‘ five myths on same, as published earlier in the Washington Post.

Read Murphy’s blog post and Norris’ op-ed at the Washington Post for their rationales.

Here’s all ten, with Norris offering the first five and Murphy providing the second five:

  1. Republicans hate foreign aid
  2. Foreign aid is a budget buster
  3. We provide aid to countries to get them to do what we tell them to do
  4. Foreign governments waste the aid we give them
  5. No one ever really gets weaned off foreign aid
  6. Overhead costs tell you how well an organization is doing
  7. Aid has been a resounding success/failure
  8. Good intentions justify bad aid
  9. The poor can’t help themselves
  10. People in the field/academia just don’t understand

Third World America | 

AidWatch’s Bill Easterly today pointed out some interesting interactive maps that he says show pockets of the “Third World” in America. Here’s a screen grab of one map showing varying health indicators across the U.S. (darker is better on this map)

American Human Development Index

Health index

The actual interactive maps can be found, and explored, at the American Human Development Index site.

Easterly’s characterization of the data (not to mention using the somewhat dated and arguably imprecise phrase “Third World”) has, as usual, provoked some angry denunciations. You can read them on his comments page, which is always entertaining and often enlightening.

For those interested in visual data and the overall indicators of our health/well-being, take a closer look at the rest of the interactive maps provided by the American Human Development Project. They also map out data regarding political participation, environmental impact and other demographics.