Last week, in class we discussed an important quote from Kearl’s article on the social stratification of death that speaks about “the ability of a society to allocate as many good deaths as possible to its members as a measure of its cultural adequacy…[and]..allow individuals to die in character, at their own pace, and in their own style.” (Kearl, 122) Societies that can efficiently meet the health and material needs of their citizens are more likely to see higher life expectancies and lower infant mortality rates. Developing countries are more likely to see deaths that Kearl constitutes as bad such as infant deaths and a lack of longevity in age. According to the world fact book and a news article in the UK, the top ranking countries with high levels of infant mortality and lower life expectancy’s belong to the developing world.
I’ve heard of children in hospitals in Ethiopia with simple respiratory problems that could have been successfully treated had they been admitted into western hospitals that are more sanitary, better in quality of medical technology, and have greater number of doctors. Their health depreciated due to exposure of TB from other patients in the same crowded hospital with one doctor to too many patients. This inability to have the necessary resources to sustain lives of citizens is an enormous problematic issue in developing nations that pays a heavy price in greater outcomes of “bad death”.
I came across an interesting article on CNN that asks the question of why is the United States, on of the most powerful countries, seeing earlier deaths than its other powerful peers. There are high rates of death due to cardiovascular related diseases that shorten life expectancy.The article before in the UK news ranked the US # 51 in life expectancy following behind many powerful and less powerful countries in Europe.
The issue at hand is not about the ability of the country to allocate necessary resources but rather issues with lifestyle decisions. According to the CNN article, there are holes within the healthcare system but that alone is not the reason for the lag in longevity. There are greater problems with the lifestyle choices that Americans make in their calorie intakes, food choices, and safety choices such as buckling a seatbelt. This suggests that good deaths can be measured by looking at the adequacy of a culture’s lifestyle practices.