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Health: United States Needs to Build a “Culture of Wellness and Prevention”

The United States currently falls behind 27 other countries in terms of a healthy life expectancy with an average of 69 years, while Japan leads all countries with an average of 75 years, according to the 2008 America’s Health Rankings: A Call to Action for Individuals & Their Communities. Some of these differences can be attributed to the inability of the United States to effectively treat disease.

The United States has the worst mortality rate from treatable conditions when compared to 18 other industrialized countries. The United States has fallen four spots in the last 5 years.

Results from a UNICEF study found the United States is second to last among 21 developed nations for child well-being as the result of high infant mortality rates, a high percentage of low-birth-weight infants and an average rate of immunizations. In addition, the United States is last in health care system performance when compared to Australia, Canada, Germany, New Zealand and the United Kingdom. Despite spending twice as much as these countries on a per-capita basis, the United States is last on dimensions of access, patient safety, efficiency and equity.

“These statistics indicate that what we are doing as a nation is not working,” said Georges C. Benjamin, M.D., executive director of American Public Health Association. “We know improvement is possible because other nations have achieved far better health outcomes at less cost, indicating that we, too, can do the same. The solution is to build a foundation for health by creating a culture of wellness and prevention. It is no longer acceptable to simply focus on treatment and cures.”

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