Thursday, July 30, 2009

Other Countries

One of the things I emphasize to my students is that we couldn't 'copy' another countries health care system, even if we wanted to do so. That is because the health system of each nation is birthed and exists in a given cultural and political circumstance. For example, the neighborhood I lived in while in Manchester, England had been heavily bombed during World War II because it was near a factory of some sort. So, all the houses in the neighborhood were *exactly* the same. They had to be because after the war people needed a place to live, and fast. So, when they developed the National Health Service, it is not that surprising that a Government run health system emerged (the most centralized, budgeted as opposed to insurance-based system in the world). Margaret Thatcher, hero to American conservatives ran for re-election saying the NHS was *safer* with the Tory party than with Labour. Margaret Thatcher would have been decried as a Socialist had she run for Congress in the U.S.!

Our nation has a different political and cultural context, especially with respect to health. So, we can learn from other nations, you can see what worked, what doesn't. And it is interesting that all the developed nations face similar lifestyle related diseases, yet have fairly different approaches.

But, I don't think we should (or could) copy another nation's health system, we have to maintain and create our own.

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