Sign Up

Health and Globalization

What role does health play in both fostering and deterring globalization?

June 29, 2005

What role does health play in both fostering and deterring globalization?

Life spans are increasing around the world as more people benefit from better living conditions and improved health care. And yet, challenges remain, from unsafe water and unhealthy habits like smoking to the spread of global epidemics like AIDS and the influenza virus. Our Globalist Factsheet takes a closer look.

What toll is AIDS taking on the world?

As of 2003, AIDS killed almost 9,000 people every day. That is the equivalent of 17 fully-booked 747 flights going down every day.
(United Nations)

How does U.S. spending on healthcare compare globally?

U.S. health care spending reached $1.66 trillion in 2003. By comparison, China’s and India’s entire GDP amount to $1.4 trillion and $598 billion, respectively.
(World Bank)

What is the situation in Africa?

The continent of Africa has 1.4 health workers per 1,000 people — compared with 9.9 per 1,000 in North America.
(Washington Post)

What about tobacco as a leading cause of death?

As of 2004, tobacco kills 4.9 people million a year. By 2020, the figure is likely to increase to 10 million per year — with 70% of tobacco related deaths occurring in developing countries.
(World Health Organization)

Are attitudes toward smoking changing in the developing world?

China, a nation of 360 million smokers, plans to ban smoking at all sites for the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games — signaling an official determination to address a growing public health crisis.
(International Herald Tribune)

How often do deadly global influenza outbreaks occur?

Pandemics of avian influenza — a disease that has the potential to infect humans — typically occur every 30 years. The last outbreak of avian influenza occurred in 1968 — 37 years ago.
(New York Times)

What would be the likely death toll of a full-blown global pandemic?

As of 2004, a pandemic based on the H5N1 bird flu virus could kill between two million and seven million people around the world.
(World Health Organization)

How do those numbers compare to the worst flu pandemic of the past century?

During the Spanish flu pandemic of 1918, at least 40 million people were killed worldwide.
(Financial Times)

How quickly could the world react to a new mass outbreak of the flu?

As of 2004, it takes four to six months after the outbreak of an influenza pandemic to develop a vaccine against it.
(Financial Times)

What preventable diseases are among the top global killers?

Diseases related to unsafe drinking water kill four million children under the age of five every year.
(United Nations)

How big a factor is malaria?

The malaria parasite infects about 300 million people each year — and kills between one million and three million, mostly children.
(Washington Post)

Is there some good news to report, too?

As of 2004, smallpox is the only disease that has been eliminated on a worldwide basis. If the World Health Organization’s current eradication plan is successful, polio would be the second.
(Washington Post)

What is the current status of polio eradication efforts?

As of 2004, polio remains endemic (freely circulating) in only six countries — Nigeria, Niger, India, Pakistan, Afghanistan and Egypt.
(World Health Organization)

On what other front is progress being made?

Of 187 countries studied by the World Health Organization, 93 are on track to meet the United Nations goal of reducing under-five child mortality by two-thirds, and 51 are making slow progress. In 43 mostly African nations, however, mortality rates are stagnant or increasing.
(Financial Times)

What makes the United States unique among its peers?

As of 2005, the United States is the only industrialized democracy without publicly funded universal health care

And finally, does the U.S. healthcare system produce better outcomes than the state-run systems of other countries?

As of 2004, the infant mortality rate in Beijing was 4.6 per every 1,000 births. In comparison, New York City's rate was 6.5 per 1,000 — about 40% higher.
(New York Times)