Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Life expectancy

Last year there were 491,348 deaths in Britain - a 3.5 per cent drop from 2008. The number dying from coronary heart disease fell by 28 per cent in men and 32 per cent in women between 2004 and 2009.

The improvement is being attributed to the use of statins which have cut deaths from coronary thrombosis. However, it could as easily be attributed to fewer people smoking. I am told that heart attacks end in death in only 8% of incidents now and that this occurs almost entirely in smokers.

Infant mortality rate was also at its lowest point in 2009. There is no getting away from it: people are living longer.

At the same time there is news that Swine flu hit young children disproportionately and especially children from a Pakistani and Bangladeshi backgrounds. There were 457 reported and confirmed swine flu-related deaths across the UK between April last year and March this year. The highest death rate of 14 per million was for children aged less than a year old. Mortality rates were much higher for Bangladeshi children (47 deaths per million population) and Pakistani children (36 deaths per million) than for white English children (four deaths per million). Those with pre-existing conditions - especially neurological diseases such as cerebral palsy - were hardest hit.

The elephant in the room is the high incidence of inherited disease in families from the Indian sub-continent - especially in the Muslim community - because of consanguineous marriage. The impact on the health service is immense. Where the genetic defect is identified the cost of remedying it is huge, and where it is unidentified it brings unknown and expensive medical problems.

I am not one who would turn sick immigrants away - though I have been told that the assumptions made by patients' relatives that the NHS should provide a service that hasn't been paid for to anyone who turns up from anywhere in the world appears to the young doctors who must do the work as breathtakingly rude. I believe that the rich nations do have a responsibility to the needy of poor nations, but prevention is part of the remedy. There are no religious reasons for marrying your cousins. The motive is greed - to keep the family fortune from passing into the hands of strangers. It was the same thing that was practised in Britain before the 1st World War, when estates were entailed to the eldest son of a family. Try watching the new Julian Fellowes' country house drama, Downton Abbey.

My own particular objection to the inclusion of Bangladeshi and Pakistani statistics is that these have the effect of lowering the reputation of the NHS, which generally performs very well. It is the same effect that tells us that 41 million Americans carry no medical insurance. Many of them are illegal immigrants. We do not need across the board changes in the name of political correctness, to solve a problem that is very specific and particular. Resources must be directed at problems, not laid on with a trowel.


Burke said...

Doctor Hamblin writes,

"I believe that the rich nations do have a responsibility to the needy of poor nations, but prevention is part of the remedy. There are no religious reasons for marrying your cousins."

Notice how quicky the notions of altruism and collectivism lead to the use of force: the idea that my rich "nation" must help the needy necessarily entails the use of force to compel me to do so somehow; and, that it is simultaneously necessary to compel the needy to practice preventive medicine.

Terry Hamblin said...

Or you could go and live in Montana.

There is self interest in keeping the poor around me healthy: so I won't catch what they've got.

When I am forced to pay for their health service I want it to be as cheap as possible - hence preventative medicine.

Burke said...


Would Jesus approve of your selfish approach?

Terry Hamblin said...

Self interest is not the same as selfish. In any case I was arguing from a libitarian viewpoint not necesarily from the one I would adopt myself.

Anonymous said...

I wonder how Burke would feel if people barged into his house, ransacked it, and moved it, forcing him to live in one corner of it. That's what's happening to the West as the great unwashed decide that they will just take what they want.

In this world, citizens of a country such as England or the United States are not allowed to decide who moves in with them. Apparently, Brits and Americans are just supposed to sit by and not utter a word when millions of people simply decide to walk across the border or overstay a visa.

Sure they take jobs, lower wages for the poorest citizens, use up natural resources, destroy natural habitat, pollute the air and destroy a way of life. Burke and his ilk think it's just great that citizens are displaced and their lives are harmed.

I just wish people such as Burke would be the first to turn over all they have in favor of someone who desires his possessions. Somehow, though, for Burke, it's always the other guy.

Burke said...

I don't think anyone should be forced to turn over his possessions to anyone else.

Just the opposite.