Live to 43 or 86? Depends on Where You Live

Reuters, August 28, 2008

Major inequalities in health and life expectancy persist worldwide, according to an independent World Health Organization commission which on Thursday called for all countries to offer universal health care.

Huge discrepancies also exist within countries, including Scotland where a boy born in the deprived Glasgow suburb of Calton can expect to live 28 years less than one born in affluent Lenzie, just 13 km (8 miles) across town, it said.

“The health inequities we see in the world are absolutely dramatic in their scale,” said Michael Marmot, a WHO health researcher, who chaired the commission, told reporters.

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The Commission on Social Determinants of Health, composed of 19 independent experts, handed over its findings to the World Health Organization (WHO). The United Nations agency ordered the report three years ago.

“One of the recommendations in the Commission’s report is that there should be universal health care systems that are available to people regardless of ability to pay,” said Marmot, head of the epidemiology and public health department at University College London.

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