Too many British children die compared to other developed nations and researchers want to know if the reason is relative poverty or low health care funding.
Through data analysis, a research team from Bournemouth University was able to compare the UK to other Western countries and found that the UK has the fourth highest child mortality rate, the third worst relative poverty and lowest funded health care. The upside is its free.
When it comes to the proportion of GDP (gross domestic product) that each country spends on health, between 1980 and 2008 the UK averaged joint lowest. Poorer countries such as Greece and Portugal spend more of their GDP on health than Britain, though to be fair those countries are spending France and Germany’s money to do so and the UK is not.
Child mortality across the west has gotten much better. Child mortality in the UK may seem high but it has fallen 42% over past 20 years. Still, the average fall of the other 20 Western countries measured is 50%, suggesting the UK’s child mortality rate is dropping at a slower rate compared to its Western contemporaries.
Professor Colin Pritchard of Bournemouth University, who led the research, used Portugal as a comparison again, “If we had the Portuguese rate there would be 1,827 fewer deaths in children aged 0-14 in the UK per year. We also examined child mortality rates in the context of relative poverty, measured by income inequality, which is the gap between the top and bottom 20% of incomes. Whilst the USA tops the league, the UK had the third worst relative poverty and poverty has long been linked to worst health outcomes.”
It can’t simply be National Health Service funding, since Britain had the fourth biggest reduction in adult deaths amongst Western countries.
“So the question is, if we are doing well in reducing adult mortality, are British children disadvantaged because of relative poverty and proportionately low funded health care? The answer appears to be yes and there is worrying evidence that UK income inequalities are widening.”