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Advocating for Action Toward a Healthier Society

America Loses in Life Expectancy Rankings.

The health of the people in the United States of America, the world's richest and most powerful country, has declined relative to other countries, according to the latest United Nations Human Development Report released yesterday. Table 1 of the report shows that of all the countries in the world, the US this year tied for 26th place, with Barbados, in life expectancy (average number of years lived), dropping from 25th place last year.

The Population Health Forum at the University of Washington attributes the poor ranking to increasing economic disparity within the USA. The Forum points out that US life expectancy is not the only health measure with dismal performance in rankings of human welfare. We also rank poorly for child poverty, homicide, incarceration, child abuse, and teenage birthrates.

The health of US citizens, compared to other countries, has steadily declined since the early 1950s, the last decade when more people in the country shared in its prosperity. "We were a more caring and sharing society back then and the poorest fifth of our citizens enjoyed the largest percentage of increases in income, contrasted with the present times when only the rich see increasing incomes, while everyone else faces declines, says Forum member, Stephen Bezruchka. "Our health is on a par with Cuba, the country we have been strangling for more than forty years. Why have we been strangling ourselves as well? We have the money to pay corporations to destroy Iraq and then to pay them to rebuild it, but not money to house our homeless," Bezruchka adds.

No one in the Department of Health and Human Services was available to comment.

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