Health Matters: A Bird's Eye View

7 alarming facts you need to know about the way we live.

7 Facts You Need To Know:

1. The United States ranks 28th in the world for mothers’ and children’s health, educational, political, and economic status.1
2. The United States has one of the highest maternal mortality rates among wealthy countries.2 One out of 4,800 pregnant women in the United States dies during childbirth.3 (The same is true for only one out of 47,600 pregnant women in Ireland.4)
3. Thirty-eight countries perform better than the United States for children living until at least the age of 5 years,5 including Croatia, Cuba, and Malaysia.6
4. The United States has the worst maternity leave policy of the 43 wealthiest countries in the world.7 The U.S. grants an average of 12 weeks for maternity leave without pay;8 Sweden, gives mothers 480 days with about 80 percent of the mother’s wages being paid.9 Albania, Bosnia, Croatia, Denmark, Norway, Serbia, and United Kingdom all give 46 weeks to more than one year for maternity leave with 50 to 100 percent pay.10
5. Only 61 percent of young children in the United States attend preschool,11 while Australia, Belarus, Belgium, the Czech Republic, France, Germany, Italy, Malta, the Netherlands, Spain, Sweden, and Switzerland all boast a 100 percent preschool enrollment.12
6. Currently, women hold 17 percent of the seats in the U.S. House of Representatives.13 Countries such as Bosnia and Lithuania have better percentages.14
7. One recommended solution by the Save the Children report is to “harness the power of women-to-women relationships to improve health outcomes for mothers and children.15 When women know how to care well for new mothers and newborns, newborn mortality can drop by up to 45 percent.16

Here’s My Take on It:

I like to see myself as a world citizen in addition to being a U.S. citizen. Because of this worldview, I’m always interested in seeing which countries lead the way in bringing out the best in children and families. I admire the individuals and organizations that work hard to make each country a better place for families. It bothers me, however, that an affluent country such as ours lags behind so many countries. Too often it seems we’re more interested in the simplistic view of only boosting the bottom line economically rather than creating ways for families to thrive and be productive citizens.

Wouldn’t our country be more competitive and better off if we invested in children and parents in terms of their health care, their education, and their economics? According to this report, the “have-nots” are outpacing the “haves” in this country. If we keep going in this direction, the United States will keep falling further and further behind, to the detriment of our children.

Take Action!

Ask your partner or friend: “How can we learn from other countries that rank high on Save the Children’s 2010 Mothers’ Index?"

Explore Further

What does the United States need to do to improve the welfare of mothers, newborns, and young children? Share your comments below.

1-16. Save the Children, Women on the Front Lines of Healthcare: State of the World’s Mothers,% %{font-size:8px}2010, May 2010.

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