Martin Robbins seizes the occasion of a birth in the Windsor family to point out what luck that baby has to be born with such good odds.
[T]hings are getting better. The small wrinkly proto-Royal that just emerged from the national womb will have thrice the chance of surviving that her father and I did, just through the privilege of being born in 2015. But if that makes you feel all warm and complacent, there are a couple of big problems with this story.
While it’s true that things are getting better, they’re still not good enough. Our babies are considerably more likely to die than those born in countries like Spain, Italy, France or basically any other European nation you can think of. By 2010, we’d just about caught up with Japan… in 1985.
Martin doesn’t talk about the US, but I’ll make this point: things here are quite a lot worse. We have much more poverty and class / race / immigration status / etc segregation here, and a much much much worse system of health care distribution. Oddly enough, that has results.
Martin says that Britain’s version of the US is the north.
There’s a simple statistical adjustment you can do that brings Britain’s infant and child mortality rates back into line with the rest of Europe’s, reducing the rate by a third and putting us level again with countries like France and Germany. Can you guess what it is?
Get rid of the poor people. Especially northerners.
That, at least, is the same here – not the northeners part, but the poor people part. We have a lot of them, and it’s intentional. Why? Because poor people will work for low wages in crap conditions. Profit!
The National Children’s Bureau made the point in a recent report that: “If the UK had the same all-cause mortality rate for children under 14 years as Sweden we could have nearly 2,000 fewer deaths among children in that age group per year – five fewer children’s deaths per day.”
How do we address that? Well there are several things a government can do, and they boil down to this. Protect our strong system of primary health care, and raise standards of mental health treatment. Ensure that poorer families received adequate support. Treat alcohol and drug abuse. Above all, reduce inequality in our society. As the NCB put it, “Poverty kills children. Equity saves lives.”
We don’t even have a strong system of primary health care. The US is a third world country in many ways.
Not to derail Martin’s point. Sorry Martin. The UK could do better, and the US that times a thousand.