Life Expectancy and Quality of Life of Filipinos
Byline: Dr. Eduardo G Gonzales
Three months ago, I came home to the Philippines after living for 35 years in the US (Im 72 years old now) to spend my remaining years in my country. I havent been to the Philippines in 25 years and what struck me when I arrived is the seeming gap in health status between Filipinos and Americans. What is the present life expectancy of Filipinos? How do we compare with other countries in so far as health status of our people is concerned? Melba B., Caloocan City.
Actually, if the countries of the world are arranged in a continuum with respect to health status of their people, with the right side of the continuum representing better health status, the Philippines will be somewhere in the left half of this continuum. How wide is the gap that separates the countries in the extreme left and right of this continuum from each other? The following story about of two hypothetical baby girls, one born in the country with the best, while the other with the worst, health care services will show you. The story is from the Introduction of the 2002 World Health Report, a publication of the World Health Organization (WHO).
"Global health is a study in contrasts. While a baby girl born in Japan today can expect to live for about 85 years, a girl born at the same moment in Sierra Leone has a life expectancy of 36 years. The Japanese child will receive vaccinations, adequate nutrition and good schooling. If she becomes a mother she will benefit from high-quality maternity care. Growing older, she may eventually develop chronic diseases, but excellent treatment and rehabilitation services will be available, she can expect to receive, on average, medications worth about US$550 per year and much more if needed.
"Meanwhile, the girl in Sierra Leone has little chance of receiving immunizations and a high probability of being underweight throughout childhood. She will probably marry in adolescence and go on to give birth to six or more children without the assistance of a trained birth attendant. One or more of her babies will die in infancy, and she herself will be at high risk of death in childbirth. If she falls ill, she can expect, on average, medicines worth about US$3 per year. If she survives middle age she, too, will develop chronic diseases but, without access to adequate treatment, she will die prematurely."
A Filipino girl born today will definitely have a higher chance of surviving to adulthood than a girl from Sierra Leone (how comforting! …