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Cuba loses fewer babies than US

10th January 2007

22112006_practices_in_children_nursingQ.jpgThe United States has higher infant mortality rates than its authoritarian socialist neighbour, Cuba.

Americans think their healthcare system is the best in the world, but Cuba is one of 41 countries with infant mortality rates better than the US.

"If the US had an infant mortality rate as good as Cuba's, we would save an additional 2,212 American babies a year," writes Nicholas D. Kristof in the New York Times.

"In every year since 1958, America's infant mortality rate improved, or at least held steady. But in 2002, it got worse: seven babies died for each thousand live births, while that rate was 6.8 deaths the year before."

The numbers are available from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, although they went largely unnoticed in the media.

According official figures, Singapore boasts the best infant mortality rate in the world. In the city-state, 2.3 babies die before the age of 1 for every 1,000 live births. Sweden, Japan and Iceland all have a rate that is less than half that in the US.

"Our policy failures in Iraq may be killing Americans at a rate of about 800 a year, but our health care failures at home are resulting in incomparably more deaths - of infants. And their mothers, because women are 70% more likely to die in childbirth in America than in Europe."

Maternity ward deaths don't generate the sort of dramatic attention that major world tragedies do. But they are daily occurences.

"Bolstering public health isn't as dramatic as spending $300 million for a single F/A-22 Raptor fighter jet, but it can be a far more efficient way of protecting Americans."

"Some of the steps the government is now taking or talking about - like cutting back further on entitlements, particularly those giving children access to health care - would aggravate the situation."

China's much-criticised authoritarian rulers have a better infant mortality rate in the capital, Beijing, a rate of 4.6 per thousand, compared with 6.5 per thousand in New York City.

"It's simply unacceptable that the average baby is less likely to survive in the US than in Beijing or Havana."


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