The United States is playing the game of health without a scoreboard
In the early 1950s, the United States had some of the best mortality outcomes among all nations. Although mortality measures have improved considerably since, they have fallen behind the gains seen in many other countries so that today the US has mortality-based health outcomes comparable to middle-income countries at best and, in some cases, much poorer nations. The US incurs almost half of the world’s health care expenditures to achieve this. Research conducted by the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) showcases these findings. Yet there is little public awareness of our poor health status, and little attention is paid in medical schools, public health schools, or the agencies at the federal, state, and local levels said to be responsible for our health. Health and health care seem synonymous to many Americans as we purchase health, insure health, and access health. This seminar will highlight these findings, hoping a discussion will ensue on appropriate responses.
Stephen Bezruchka practiced medicine for 35 years, dividing his time between emergency departments in the United States and long-term stints in Nepal setting up a community health project a week’s walk from the road, developing a remote district hospital as a teaching hospital for Nepali doctors, helping Nepali surgeons to assist medical officers in remote hospitals, and consulting and currently advising on a new public health school there. Seeking to understand the relative health decline of the US, he obtained his Master of Public Health from Johns Hopkins University in 1993. He teaches courses in population health at the University of Washington (UW), and he writes and speaks on US health status to groups ranging from those in grade six to graduate students, and from the homeless to public health officials. He received the UW School of Public Health’s Outstanding Teacher Award and Faculty Community Service Award.