The reports on life expectancy, infant mortality, the leading causes of death, and a variety of other statistical facts are reported yearly for the country. It’s the prime data for some in comparing different nations with one another on the basis of health care. What if I were to tell you this data you’re comparing is wrong?
That’s right, we’re talking about a major cover-up scandal that needs to be addressed. When money is going towards fixing the problems of the nations at stake, this is a pretty big ordeal. Billions of lives are at stake, as well as your own life. You know that relative or friend you have that suffered before they died? Yep, they might not have suffered if the misuse of valuable resources wasn’t happening.
The major problem behind the scandal is the question on how to measure health. The World Health Organization (WHO) is divided into branches in order to deal with pressing issues with health in the world. For these organizations, they are mostly concerned with the people who are ill with and/or die of their issues. With such a small budget, they are dependent on outside donors to fund them further. With the numbers seemingly having no significant change on the number of people who are suffering, then isn’t the money you’re putting into these organizations to find a cure for something just going into their own pockets?
However, they also have something to fear even before all of this; the loss of the same donors because their causes are improving. According to Jeremy Smith in “Epic Measures: One Doctor, Seven Billion Patients”, these organizations were afraid that reporting the true number of people who died of a cause, rather than over-reporting, would make the donors withdraw their money because other causes need more health. So double-counting the cause of deaths meant that the branches may receive higher funding.
In their defense, consider if the story of a doctor in Ghana who raped thousands of women who came to him to perform abortions secretly. Although this matter does focus more on the social side of the cultural, because abortions have are very much disapproved. Yet, if a statistic came in out that the number of miscarriages in Ghana had decreased greatly in a 5 years span, wouldn’t you believe less aid should go over for that cause? But these women may instead be subjecting themselves to others who are going to take advantage of them because they don’t want to to harm themselves by self-inducing an abortion using a ground-up, broken bottle, sea water and detergent.
That’s the way our world had devolved: one is reduced into numbers. If you don’t, consider how someone is defined by popular by the number of likes they may get on their Instagram post or the number of times their snaps were viewed on Snapchat. If you don’t use those mediums, then consider the fact that we have ID numbers that define us, like our Social Security Numbers or the sequence on passports. It’s the easiest and most depersonalized way to get to know someone.
A technique has been created in order to address more than just the death of the individual, but also their quality of life. The number of disability life-years (DALYs) takes into account both the difference between the average life expectancy and the early death (YLLs) and the years lived with “disability” (YLDs). YLDs are calculated by multiplying the number of years living with a condition with a a “disability weight” to find out where the most money should be allocated in an organization. For example, if you lived with severe anemia for a decade, then you will have lost .2 to 1.2 quality years of life.
This calculation, of course, is from a perspective where access of healthcare is universal and resources are bountiful. Someone who has had a sprained shoulder in the developing world may struggle through the symptoms of their injury because it’s the only way to survive. To them, the impact of a concussion on the quality of life may be a small problem. On the other hand, for someone who sprains their shoulder playing soccer, they may rate the injury as extreme because they can’t go play soccer until the injury recovers.
In order to fix the issues with the calculation of the DALYs, and finally distribute money properly for pressing medical issues, the 7 billion people in the world would have to give their own weight for the diseases they have had. Then, as the issues arise, they could assign more weighted characteristics. It could become as regular as the process of paying taxes in the US and have the countries responsible for the distribution and collection of such.
Of course, this also has its own limitations. We wouldn’t want the government to force us to do more, right? Only the people with the ability to communicate would be able to follow this. Likewise, not everyone may report injuries as regularly as the next person, or have the ability to know exactly is the cause of certain illnesses. Then you have the dead people who of course can’t speak for themselves. Collection is already difficult, as the countries report their own data to varying degrees of accuracy. And some countries may not be willing to follow the new process.
Maybe you’ve come to the end of this and thought, ‘wow, you really haven’t provided a concrete, working way to make sure my money is being used the right way’. My answer to this is exactly. Now go off and figure out how to solve problems yourself!