Infant Mortality Rates in US, an Indictment of Its Healthcare System

by Gopalan on Nov 12 2007 12:38 PM

Infant Mortality Rates in US, an Indictment of Its Healthcare System
In 2004, seven of 1,000 infants born in the U.S. did not live to their first birthday. That rate places America among the worst infant mortality rates in industrialized nations.
Only Latvia has a worse infant mortality rate.

As per a report released by Save the Children, a prominent non-governmental organization, the only superpower in this world is tied with Slovakia, Malta, Hungary and Poland when it comes to saving precious lives of children.

The same report noted the United States had more neonatologists and newborn intensive care beds per person than Australia, Canada and the United Kingdom - but still had a higher rate of infant mortality than any of those nations.

But the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says defensively, the rate at which infants die in the country has dropped substantially over the past half-century – only broad disparities remain among racial groups.

Babies born to black mothers died at two and a half times the rate of those born to white mothers, according to the CDC figures.

Doctors and analysts blame broad disparities in access to health care among racial and income groups in the United States.

But then the picture is far bleaker in poorer countries, particularly in Africa. A 2005 World Health Organization report found infant mortality rates as high as 144 per 1,000 births - more than 20 times the U.S. rate - in Liberia.

Save the Children notes that children under the age of 5 are dying at a rate of nearly 27,000 a day from preventable and treatable causes. 27,000 children a day. And, nearly half of these deaths take babies less than a month old.

And so it has stepped up its campaign for support for The Global Child Survival Act, introduced in the US earlier this year.

This legislation would recommit the United States to improving children's health by expanding funding for proven solutions like immunizations and antibiotics.

“Cost-effective and low-tech services like vaccinations, antibiotics, and a simple mix of water, sugar, and salts to treat dehydration can help prevent deaths from unthinkable causes like diarrhea and pneumonia. That's what makes this bill so compelling,” says Save the Children.

But voices calling for more equitable healthcare inside the nation itself continue to be weak, though the presidential election fever has already caught on.


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