The World Health Organization (WHO) works with offices in more than 150 countries worldwide to track health data, make comparisons by country and region, and set up guidelines to improve health statistics in problem areas. On their website, they provide information and downloadable data for most countries in areas such as overall mortality, infant mortality, noncommunicable diseases (such as cancer and heart disease) and infectious diseases (such as HIV and influenza) (WHO, 2016). The countries chosen for comparison are Ireland, an island in the North Atlantic west of the British Isles, and the Central African Republic. Ireland is a developed country with a healthcare system that combines both public and private elements. The Central African Republic is a developing nation in Africa that gained its independence from France in 1960. The CAR has a very low level of access to healthcare (WHO, 2016).
The first statistic to compare is the crude death rate. The most recent WHO data is for 2013, and at that time Ireland’s crude death rate was 5.9 per thousand people, while the Central African Republic’s crude death rate was 14 per thousand, more than twice that of Ireland. Also, the life expectancy in the CAR is almost 30 years less than in Ireland – 52 years in the CAR versus 81 in Ireland (WHO, 2016). One reason that the life expectancy is so much lower in the Central African Republic is the high infant mortality rate of 44 per one thousand live births. By comparison, infant mortality in Ireland is only 2.3 per one thousand live births. This is not surprising considering the importance of prenatal care to the health of both mother and baby. With such a small ratio of physicians and nurses to people — less than 15 per 100,000 – and only three midwives per one thousand, there are not enough healthcare workers to go around. By comparison, Ireland has approximately fifteen doctors and nurses per one thousand (Oza et al., 2015). Finally, the rates of tuberculosis, an infectious disease, in the two countries vary widely. Ireland has only 7.2 persons with TB per 100,000, while in the CAR, 391 per 100,000 have the disease (WHO, 2013). Based on these statistics, the population of the Central African Republic has a dismal health picture, while Ireland, though not at the top of developed countries, is much healthier overall.
- Oza, S., Lawn, J. E., Hogan, D. R., Mathers, C., & Cousens, S. N. (2015). Neonatal cause-of-death estimates for the early and late neonatal periods for 194 countries: 2000–2013. Bulletin of the World Health Organization, 93(1), 19-28.
- World Health Organization. (2013). Global tuberculosis report 2013. World Health Organization.
- World Health Organization. (2016). Global Health Observatory data. Retrieved from http://www.who.int/gho/countries/en/.