Mortality in Global Perspective

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Mortality in Global Perspective

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Exercise 2: Mortality in global perspective

This exercise gives you the opportunity to explore the world through the lens of global differences in health and illness.

(1) Access the UNICEF web site that displays data on health indicators throughout the world. You can click on the link posted under "external links" on the class web site or use your own browser to go to http://www.unicef.org/infobycountry/ . Take a few moments to check out the web site. You can explore by region or by country, or look at "industrialized" countries as a group.

(2) Click on the link for each country listed in the chart below. Learn a little about circumstances in that country by looking over "The Big Picture" and some of the "Real Lives" stories. Then, click on "Statistics" on the country`s main page and fill in the following information, as I`ve done for the United States. Take care to find the exact statistic listed here -- the blue headings will point you to the right section. Be sure you understand what each data element refers to; definitions can be found by clicking on the "definitions & data sources" links at the end of each section.

Find this information...
(most recent year or period) ...for each of these countries:

Afghanistan Canada China Cuba Haiti Sudan USA
Basic indicator
Under 5 mortality rank (the smaller the number, the greater the under-5 mortality rate compared to other countries) 157
Basic indicator
Infant mortality rate 2003 (per 1000 live births) 7
Basic indicator
Life expectancy at birth (years) 77 yrs
Basic indicator
Total adult literacy rate (% of those 15 & older who can read & write) Not listed
% of under-fives suffering from underweight (moderate & severe) 4%
% of infants with low birth weight, 1998-2003 8%
% of total population using improved drinking water sources 100%
% of total population using adequate sanitation facilities 100%
Rate of progress
Under 5 mortality rate reduction since 1990 (%) 20%

Exercise 2: Mortality in global perspective

(3) By now you`ve probably figured out that the countries listed weren`t selected at random. If you haven`t already, consider the kinds of socio-economic structure and/or political circumstances that each represents.

(a) Briefly comment on the differences you note among these countries. How do the statistics you`ve noted reflect what you`ve read about "morbidity and mortality in a global perspective" in Health, Illness, and the Social Body (pages 23-26)? For example: What kinds of relationships do you see between what you read in the "Big Picture" and "Real Lives" about a country and the health statistics you retrieved about it? What kinds of differences exist among the countries in the Western Hemisphere -- the U.S., Canada, Cuba, and Haiti -- and why do you suppose that is?

(b) Briefly comment on anything you learned or that surprised you as you completed this worksheet. For example: Do you think that if someone else had filled in the statistics but then removed the country names and listed them on a separate sheet, you would have been able to figure out which column went with which country? (In fact, this is an experiment you might try with an acquaintance.) If you feel you could have made the connection to the right set of numbers for the five countries, what would have made that possible? If you feel you wouldn`t have been able to connect the right stats with the correct country, what is unexpected about the statistics you retrieved?


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