Just another blow to American health care. New reports show the U.S. slipping in life expectancy rankings compared to other countries of the world. In my book, The Six Keys to Optimal Health, I point out that the World Health Organization (WHO) ranks the U.S. 37th out of 191 nations with regard to overall health. And now we’ve fallen to number 42 on the life expectancy chart with countries such as Jordan, Guam, and the Caymen Islands ranking ahead of us.
Can anybody else see the paradox in all of this? How can one of the richest nations in the world, the most technologically advanced, and the most medically innovative fall so low on the world health scale? Some very important people in health care and politics (as well as one obnoxious film maker) believe it’s because we do not have socialized health care. But is it?
Let’s look at the facts. The biggest killers in this country are heart disease and cancer, both preventable conditions, not a lack of medical care. Perhaps, a lack of access leads to a few less saved lives, but these people are still having heart attacks. The problem, once again, has to do with our current health paradigm. It’s all about saving the lives of people who are dying, rather than preserving the lives of people who are living, before they get ill. Duh. What’s so hard about that concept? Why don’t these brilliant policy makers see that? I just don’t get it.
This doesn’t mean we shouldn’t focus on saving lives – heck no. Please save my life, my wife’s, or my daughter’s if you can. Please! I’m ever so grateful for having the best system in the world for doing that (there is no denying that we are at the very top in saving lives in the U.S.). But we are talking about health and life expectancy here. Very different concepts indeed. Health and life expectancy depend on what we do to take care of ourselves, not how quickly you can perform a bypass surgery on Mr. Jones, whose left anterior descending artery is clogged shut.
If we continue to make the process of saving lives the focus of health, then we’re fighting a losing battle. Don’t get me wrong, innovation in the medical sciences will continue to flourish, and newer, more incredible ways to save lives will be discovered for years to come. And it will continue to be a trillion, maybe even quadrillion, dollar industry. You certainly can’t complain about that. However, if we are to ever raise our position within the world health rankings, then we will need to start by focusing on the basics – that is, doing the things that preserve and optimize health; diet, exercise, bodywork, rest, and so on. There isn’t a better place to start than by learning how, and I know of a great source coming out this fall that can guide you purposefully. Stay tuned for more.