US lags behind other nations on UN health measures

How are the world’s nations doing when it comes to the UN’s 2030 global heath targets?

According to CNN, a study in the The Lancet shows that some nations are doing very well.

However, many advocates and lawmakers in the U.S. are concerned by America’s ranking of 24.

Singapore, Iceland, Sweden, Norway, and the Netherlands hold the top five spots in the ranking. The U.S. came in behind countries like Malta, Antigua and Barbuda, and Cyprus.

The ranking measures the progress countries have made on measures of public health like infant mortality rates, vaccination rates, smoking, abuse, universal heath coverage, and rates of certain diseases.

These measures were included in the U.N.’s 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, which was unanimously adopted in 2015.

Nancy Fullman, scientific adviser at the Institute of Health Metrics and Evaluation at University of Washington-Seattle, and lead author of the Lancet paper, said the U.N.’s goals “create accountability among all countries and help to spur action by key decision makers.”

Fullman and her research team analyzed how the world’s nations performed on 37 of 50 health-related indicators from 1990 to 2016.

According to the research, most of the world’s nations will meet targets for malaria, under-5 mortality, neonatal mortality, and maternal mortality.

Very few countries (fewer than 5 percent) will satisfy the targets for road injury mortality, child obesity, and tuberculosis rates.

Fullman said the countries at the bottom of the ranking had generally experienced severe political instability or unrest. Many of them had also not received a lot of development aid.

The report noted that many nations had made significant improvements in universal health coverage from 2000 to 2016. However, other nations, including the United States, showed little growth on this measure.

The U.S. had particularly poor performance on the suicide mortality, alcohol use, child sex abuse, and homicide metrics.

The analysis was sponsored by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and was intentionally released ahead of the U.N. General Assembly so it could be used by policy makers.

The U.N. goals have been praised for their focus on children and creating economic independence.

However, Dr. Georges Benjamin, executive director of the American Public Health Association, warned that “interdependency” can make it “tough” to measure progress.

Still, as he said, “If you don’t measure it, you won’t achieve it.”

About Erica Smith 178 Articles

With several years in the medical field—both as a practitioner and an administrator—Erica has a unique perspective on the health industries. From medical technology to cancer research, she covers our health industry.

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