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