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Tuesday, May 06, 2008


Capitalism kills...lots of mostly black and brown people

Save The Children is out with a new report detailing the state of the world's children (and women as well). Their major conclusions are shocking, sadly unsurprising, and once again put the "civilized" world's preoccupation with "terrorism" as a cause of death in perspective: 9.7 million children die every year (26,000 each and every day) from diseases like diarrhea and pneumonia which are not only treatable but treatable at extremely low-cost. 6.1 million of those 10 million could be saved if those low-cost solutions were made available to the world's population. Unfortunately the report does not attempt to estimate the cost in total, but given that antibiotics to treat pneumonia can cost less than 30 cents, and that the oral rehydration salts needed to prevent a child from dying of diarrheal dehydration cost less than 50 cents, I think it's safe to say that the total cost of saving the lives of 6.1 million people would be well under the cost of the war in Iraq. Probably less than one month's worth. Maybe less than a day's worth.

You probably won't be surprised to find that Cuba, where the government not only provides health care to all its citizens but also makes sure that enough doctors are trained to provide that health care (with plenty to spare to save lives and eyesight of people around the world), is ranked second in the "less developed countries" listing, second only to Israel (whose exclusion from the "more developed" countries list is probably questionable anyway, if by "more developed" we confine ourselves to economic issues), and above every other country in Central and South America and the Caribbean (Costa Rica, often touted as some kind of model country, is 9th). The United States? 27th out of the 41 "more developed" countries, with it's infant mortality rate having risen to 8, putting it behind Cuba on that issue. But that's the average infant mortality rate in the United States. Here's another part of the story, something the report calls the "Survival Gap" - the difference between black and white infant mortality:

The picture caption sums up the story:

Infant mortality rates among black infants are at least twice as high as white mortality rates in nearly every U.S. state with available data. In Wisconsin, Delaware and Michigan, a black baby is over 3 times more likely to die compared to a white baby. Survival gaps of this magnitude are comparable to those in Bolivia, Nigeria and the Philippines – some of the most inequitable countries in the world.

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