Tuesday , June 19, 2018

Carvajal: Picture of neglect

WITH the specter of corruption hounding the Dengvaxia controversy, I thought of measuring the health profile of Filipinos against those of our Asian neighbors.

In the World Health Organization’s 2015 figures, the world rank (WR) of our combined (male and female) life expectancy of 68.5 years was 124. Only Myanmar (WR 129) is worse with a life expectancy of 66.6. We are worse than Indonesia’s (WR 120) 69.1, N. Korea’s (WR 109) 70.6 and South Korea’s (WR 11) 82.3. Vietnam’s (WR 56) life expectancy is 76, better than number 71 Thailand’s 74.9. Top ranked is Japan’s life expectancy of 83.7.

The top three leading causes of death are practically the same (stroke, coronary heart disease and influenza/pneumonia) across all the compared countries with the exception of South Korea whose no. 2 killer is suicide.

Our no. 5 killer disease is tuberculosis. It is no. 8 in Vietnam, no. 13 in Thailand, no. 20 in N. Korea and outside the top 20 in both S. Korea and Japan (No. 5 is suicide). This means our neighbors are able to provide their people with better nutrition, cleaner environment and adequate professional health services.

Overall, the governments of these other countries take better care of the health of their people. The people of these countries have better access (defined in terms of affordability and availability) to effective professional private and/or public health care services.

Next, I looked at the correlation of the health profile with the corruption index. In 2016, Myanmar, she with the poorest health profile, is ranked 115 in corruption while the Philippines, with the next poorest health profile, is ranked 93 in corruption, same as Vietnam’s but higher than Thailand’s 83. (These countries may be just slightly less corrupt than us but they seem to be better able to take care of their people’s health.) The directly inverse correlation is best demonstrated by South Korea’s high (least corrupt) rank of 39 and Japan’s 17.

Next, I looked at the shared variable of religion. What is striking is that the main religions of all these countries have no direct positive impact on the behavior of their leaders. It is in fact stunning that godless communist Vietnam takes better care of the health of their people than Christian Philippines, Buddhist Myanmar and Muslim Indonesia.

Christianity does not differentiate us from our neighbors in a good way as the figures would show. Still preached and practiced the medieval way of the colonizers, it has not mitigated the greed of leaders to any degree better than the main religions of other countries that are in fact taking better care of the health of their people.

The health profile of Christian Philippines is a picture of neglect.