Bogus article in _Science_ writes off young, old

Russell Turpin turpin at cs.utexas.edu
Fri Nov 22 12:07:29 EST 1996


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In article <5747c5$crd at nnrp1.news.primenet.com>,
Camilla Cracchiolo  <camilla at primenet.com> wrote:
> We do have to come up with some objective criteria to base 
> public health policy on, though.  I don't necessarily agree 
> with the way these guys went about it, but when we look at 
> the whole world and not just the industrialized nations,
> ischemic heart disease is probably far down on the list of
> health problems. ...

What public health policy depends on this kind of global measure?
Very clearly, India (to pick an example at random) should focus
its medical resources according to the kinds of health problems
that are prevalent in India, which will not be the same as the
health problems that are prevalent in the US or Britain.  There
is absolutely no need to do some kind of cross-country comparison
to realize *this*.

Despite the popular rhetoric that health care is a human right
that must be publicly provided, almost no one in the first world
acts as if global medical resources should be pooled and then
applied according to global criteria.  If we were to do this,
virtually all health care that we in the first world care most
about would disappear.  It takes no great insight to realize that
heart disease and cancer are concerns only AFTER dealing with a
whole host of problems that still top the list for most nations.
As Cracchiolo explained, many "folks in the third world don't
live long enough to die of heart disease."  Since we are NOT
going to globally allocate health resources, an objective
criterion is not needed to determine how to do so.

So: the first world will continue to focus its health resources
on first world health problems, other countries will focus their
health resources on their own health problems, and the first world
will provide some funds to help with the latter.  Where in this
is the need for the kind of global criterion that this article
describes?  Quite frankly, I do not see it.

Russell

-- 
 The difference between life and a movie script is that the script has 
 to make sense.         -- Humphrey Bogart



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