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Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Is WHO's "World Health report 2000" the worst study ever?

After reading the commentary (see here )by Dr. Scott W. Atlas I would give that publication my vote as the worst or darn close to it. Dr. Atlas is a Senior Fellow at the Hoover Institution and is chief of neuroradiology at the Stanford University Medical Center and has a long list of scientific publications to his credit.

It is amazing how often sound bites from that study are quoted not only by the main stream media but also recited as gospel by medical researchers often in the boiler plate introductions to what otherwise would legitimately pass for a scientific publication.

How many times have we been told that something must be done about the U.S. health care system because although the U.S. spends 16 % of its GDP on health care it ranks 37th (out 191 countries) in something the WHO staffers called "overall performance".

Dr. Atlas said the the WHO publication " ranked countries according to their alignment with a specific political and economic ideal-socialized medicine-and then claimed it was an objective measure of "quality" ".

Quality,which is always a usefully ambiguous concept, was in the view of the report's authors the degree to which a country had distributed wealth and centralized administration of health care.

Atlas explains that 62.5 % of the overall performance index created by the report to rank countries was an assessment of one particular concept of equality and not about health care outcomes at all.

Quoting Dr. Atlas :

In fact,
World Health Report 2000 was an intellectual fraud of historic consequence—a profoundly deceptive document that is only marginally a measure of health-care performance at all.

Read Dr. Atlas's commentary for more details of the methods used by the WHO staffers to achieve this propaganda masterpiece. I expect politicians and policy wonks with a particular agenda to quote the WHO's factoids but it is embarrassing to see medical researchers use the bogus material from the report as fillers and appropriately politically correct genuflexions to the notion of social justice in their publications.


Andrew_M_Garland said...

Thank you for pointing out the Commentary article by Dr. Scott Atlas.

The usual criticism of US health care is "We spend more and get less". This is the position of the WHO in that 2000 report. The WHO is more of a political organization than a medical one.

USA Healthcare is First - Infant Mortality is Low

The U.N. World Health Organization (the WHO) itself ranks the US #1 in care delivery that is important to patients. It issues another ranking at 37th because this quality of care costs more and is not delivered by government. The 37th rank is a political judgment that is not related to the quality of care delivered. That is the ranking that the liberal press always references.

- -
When people cite the low costs of Medicare administration, they do not include activities that support Medicare but are not included in the spending figures. All governments have the incentive to under-report their healthcare costs. Despite Medicare's supposed efficiency, it suffers large losses to error and fraud, underpays for the care it proimises to deliver, and is so well planned that it is rapidly going broke. That is all within the government's control. They must like the situation.

It is easy to spend less on healthcare and have great statistics: give the government a monopoly on paying for the care and for compiling the statistics. Cuba routinely issues infant mortality statistics that are lower than the US. I don't believe them.

- -
Britian is a great example of controlled costs with poor delivery.
Lack of British Maternity Care

Quip: We find do-it-yourself is much cheaper.

"Almost 4,000 women (up 15% this year) gave birth outside maternity wards, lacking midwives and hospital beds. Overstretched maternity units shut their doors to an additional 553 women in labor last year."

- -
Healthcare Scandal in Britain
"The Patients Association in Britian reports hundreds of thousands in the past six years received nursing care that was often neglectful, demeaning, painful, and sometimes cruel.

Elderly people were left in pain, in soiled bed clothes, denied adequate food and drink, and suffered from repeatedly cancelled operations, missed diagnoses, and dismissive staff."

- -
It is a great irony that socialists now style themselves as businesspeople and efficiency experts. Let them run things, and everything will be cheaper and just as good. Aren't these the people who want to reduce world population?

WISPR said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Epsom Derby said...

Leaving the populist comments aside, the usual academic criticism of the WHO report is of a bias towards US-style managed competition in healthcare (which is why the US ranks so highly here, when in other reports it ranks far behind W.Europe/Singapore etc)

But agree that composite measures of overall systems are a political tool, one designed to stimulate debate and place health at the forefront of the policy making agenda, rather than an accurate assessment of performance.

Carlos Vázquez said...

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