The C2S blog draws on the arts, the social and biological sciences to explore the many meanings of health and "dis-ease." Designed to be a locus where patients, their families and professionals can meet on a level playing field, it is the natural off-shoot of the Cell 2 Soul Online Journal. We encourage the submission of ideas, essays, poems, stories, humor, and timely reviews relating to the humanities and health care.
Hans Rosling, a Swedish physician became a pop-star statistician by converting dry numbers into dynamic graphics that challenged preconceptions about global health and gloomy prospects for population growth. He died on February 7th at 68 of pancreatic cancer.
The topic of Global Health and Social Determinants of Health has interested us greatly. It is covered in detail in Michael Marmot’s dense book, The Health Gap (that few will wade into). Rosling’s work makes this information palatable and easily understandable.
Rosling, his wife and daughter founded Gapminder, an independent Swedish foundation with no political, religious or economic affiliations in 2007. Gapminder is a fact tank, not a think tank. It fights devastating misconceptions about global development.
When the Titanic sank on April 15, 1912, which passengers lived to see another day?
37% of all passengers survived. 61% of 1st passengers survived. 42% of 2nd passengers survived. 24% of 3rd passengers survived.
It’s like that on the United States Ship of Fools. Among other things, those traveling first class were closer to the life boats – and it’s the same wherever the rich are.
It has been known for decades that the rich live longer than the poor. Seminal studies done in the UK 40 or 50 years demonstrate that class is a major determinant of life expectancy. Here, in the United States, we have paid less attention to this. A recent article in the New York Times comparing the life spans of the rich and the poor addresses this vital and morbid subject.
Medical care plays only a small role in determining longevity. So much for all that screening that we as a population are subjected to. Smoking plays a role, but there are many poorly defined contributory factors. Income, education, class, race, postal code are all important and it is sad how early the lot is cast for those who have less.
The Times article is an opportunity to ruminate about this subject. I hope that a few of our readers who are involved in this field will comment and parse it for us.
Look at the graph below to start your thought process.