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Running head: Global Health and Human Development 1

Global Health and Human Development

Maria Lira

Health Science 610: Social and Behavioral Influences of Public Health

Instructor: Julie Hernandez

November 13, 2017

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Global Health and Human development

They say history happens so it will not be repeated in the future. Is that really the

case when it comes to global health and human development though? One would say

the United States has not learned very well from the past. In fact, it seems that the

United States and the rest of the world have not learned much from the history that has

happened and the global health crisis will not be changing any time soon unless drastic

measures are taken. Many would argue that the underdeveloped countries are the

ones who suffer the most. Many would also say that the countries who are better off in

wealth are not helping or doing enough to help the third world countries with the global

health crisis. Once again, it is a global health crisis and it is going to take more than just

the few countries who are wealthier and better off to take on this crisis.

To get a better understanding of the human development we have the Human

Development Index (HDI) which gives a description of the following: human life

expectancy, education levels, and gross income per capita indicators. These factors

helps us to develop the rankings of each country and how we can compare and

contrast. In doing comparison and contrast between countries differences such as to

how one country with the same policies as another is thriving while the other is not.

(“Human Development Index (HDI) | Human Development Reports,” 2015). The HDI will

help to understand the difference between the United States which is seen as one of the

wealthiest countries of the world in comparison to other countries in the world. The life

expectancy for Americans is that of 79 years of age, the years of education 16.5 and the

gross national income 53,245.

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As previously mentioned, the United States of America is looked upon as one of

the wealthiest countries in the world and therefore carries a high prestige with that title.

Well, according to the United Nations Development Programme the United States does

not seem to have the title as the best of the best. In fact, compared to other countries in

the world the United States is number 10 in the HDI ranking (“Human Development

Index (HDI) | Human Development Reports,” 2015). This ranking is an overall look at all

of the segments above mentioned which help understand how globally developed a

country is.

The United States of America is looked upon as the land where dreams can be

achieved. According to the Human Development 2015 Report, the opposite is shown.

Compared to other countries in the world the life expectancy as well as education and

gross income opportunities seem to be better and more accessible in other countries.

Having all of this said, let’s compare and contrast the United States’ ranking to that of

other countries.

Life Expectancy:

The United States has a life expectancy of about 79 years of age for its

population. In comparison to other countries, that seems to be not a very high life

expectancy. Countries such as Singapore that has a life expectancy of 83, and

Switzerland as well of 83 years of age, the United States falls short. What could be the

contributing factors to this shortage of years in life expectancy? It could be the lifestyle

that each country has. In the United States in comparison to Singapore the lifestyle

might be more sedentary. Americans might also be used to a faster paced lifestyle and

therefore might have less healthy eating habits than the population in Switzerland.
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With a different type of lifestyle, comes along diseases that other countries might

not be facing. As previously mentioned, the United States’ population might have a

more sedentary lifestyle as those who life in Switzerland. With a sedentary lifestyle

diseases such as hypertension, diabetes can play a huge role on whether those within

that country will live a shorter life span. These diseases are hard to cure and many do

not succeed in doing so therefore making the countries life expectancy to seem lower

than other countries.

Policies on healthcare also are a huge factor in the life expectancy of a country. It

is clearly seen that those countries with a complete healthcare system for their whole

population are having a higher life expectancy. This can be because healthcare might
Human Development Index Rankings: Top 10

United States


0 2 4 6 8 10 12


be approached in a different manner. Not only is everyone within those countries

covered under healthcare, but the way they have approached healthcare might be

different. Healthcare might not be seen as here in the United States where if someone
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is sick they go into a doctor’s office for two minutes get a prescription and are expected

to fully recover with that one simple visit. In other countries they might be looking to

healthcare as an overall package. Doctors and their whole office team might be taking

the time to actually understand the needs of their patients so that each patient can have

a healthier lifestyle.

Maternal and Child Mortality Rates:

According to the World Health Organization the maternal mortality rate is 14

deaths per 100,000 live births. That is a very high number for a wealthy developed

country as the United States is. Therefore, what is causing so many deaths in the

women of the U.S.? According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, many

of these dying mothers are suffering from chronic illnesses as they go through their

pregnancy. If a mother develops gestational diabetes, it can also lead to other

complications at the time of labor. Sedentary lifestyles once again plays a factor on

whether these women will have a better chance of surviving labor or not. In comparison

to other countries such as Canada that has 7 deaths per 100,000 live births, the

difference is tremendous. Mortality rates are cut exactly in half and this could be

because of the different type of healthcare that Canadian women have access to in

comparison to that of U.S. women.

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention ranked the top three diseases as

the cause for maternal mortality to be cardiovascular diseases at 15.5%, non-

cardiovascular diseases 14.5%, Infection or sepsis, 12.7%,Hemorrhage, 11.4%.,

Cardiomyopathy, 11.0%, Thrombotic pulmonary embolism, 9.2%. Hypertensive

disorders of pregnancy, 7.4%. Cerebrovascular accidents, 6.6%. Amniotic fluid

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embolism, 5.5%. Anesthesia complications, 0.2%, and 6.1% are unknown (CDC, 2017).

It would be expected that the United States being a developed country would take as

many preventative measures to ensure that maternal death rates lower. It is hard to

understand how cardiovascular diseases are not being conquered and prevented by the

United States healthcare system. There are more than plenty preventative measures

that can be taken for infection and sepsis yet once again it is another difficult to

understand issue that the United States faces and up to this day cannot diminish.

Top Causes for Maternal Death in the U.S.

18.00% 15.50%
Percent oper death cause

14.00% 12.70%
11.40% 11.00%
12.00% 9.20%
10.00% 7.40%
8.00% 6.60% 6.10% 5.50%
2.00% 0.20%

Cause of Death

According to the Center for Disease Control and prevention, the United States

Infant Mortality Rate is of 5.82 deaths per 1,000 live births (National Vital Statistics,

CDC, 2013). Once again, we may think that the United States being a developed

country would have a lesser number of deaths in infants. There are many causes that

may cause an infant’s deaths. Some of those causes can be Sudden Infant Syndrome,

and newborns affected by maternal complications. In connections as previously

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mentioned in regards to maternal mortality rates, not only are the mothers being

affected but so are their children. If the mother is not healthy then the probabilities that

their child might have the same disease that they do is just as prone to happen. For

example, if a mother has hypertension, then the child can be affected due to their

mother’s health and put them at risk of a pre-term labor. This would be an issue that the

United State mothers might face, but not necessarily what other mothers in the world

might face during a pregnancy. Other countries especially if they are underdeveloped

might have mothers that do not have the proper nutrition and also suffer from pre-term

labor. For example, Nigeria has areas in which mothers do not have the necessary

access to food as American mothers do and therefore will most likely have a pre-term

infant with a low birth weight and malnutrition.

United States Pay per Capita for Healthcare:

The pay per capita according to the common wealth fund for the United States as

of 2013 was $9,086 (Squires & Anderson, 2015) . They also explain how the United

States is one of the countries that pays the most per capita for healthcare in comparison

to other countries such as Canada who only spends about $5,000 per capita. It is easier

to understand that those countries who have healthcare for everyone in their population

seem to be more successful. The United States seem to be paying the most but that

could be due to having to pay for those who are not covered through healthcare. If the

United States was to implement a healthcare system for the whole country it might be at

a high cost initially, yet in the future it can help prevent diseases which are not costing

the economy a higher price.

Comparison of Pay Per Capita on Healthcare

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Country Pay Per Capita 2013

1 United Kingdom $3,364

2 Japan $3,713

3 Canada $4,569

4 United States $9,086

I learned that as a country we need to change the way our country runs its

healthcare system. Instead of fully taking advantage of our title as one of the wealthiest

countries in the world we are falling short. Our healthcare system needs to improve in

many ways such as making sure that mothers are taken care of in order for them to

have healthier children and reduce both the mother and infant mortality rates. If we have

a healthier society then that means that we have a higher chance of having a longer

lifespan. We need our country to thrive above each and every factor that at this time is

being a barrier. If our country succeeds then it is a step closer to a more successful

global health and human development.

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Human Development Index (HDI) | Human Development Reports. (n.d.). Retrieved

November 13, 2017, from http://hdr.undp.org/en/content/human-development-


Pregnancy Mortality Surveillance System | Pregnancy | Reproductive Health | CDC.

(2017, November 9). Retrieved November 14, 2017, from


Squires, D., & Anderson, C. (2015, October 8). U.S. Health Care from a Global

Perspective. Retrieved November 14, 2017, from