Preventable deaths accounted for 32% of all deaths in 2002, and this map and link convey where those deaths are occurring (PS - I love these types of maps).
It's not surprising more preventable deaths are occurring in Africa and India, but the magnitude might be a bit jarring.
One of the issues I have with the health care debate is my liberal side agrees that no American should live a diseased life that ends in premature, painful death because they can't afford the treatment. That seems wrong. On the other hand, I don't think these people deserve to be healthy simply because they are Americans, I think they deserve it because they are human beings. The argument 'they deserve to be healthy because they live in the United States' doesn't resonate well with me -- there is no moral high ground there. All your doing is expanding the privilege of birth to not just include those born into a high-income family in the US, but all who happen to be born in the US. The message for health care justice shouldn't be "share your privilege with a few more people nearby," it should be that health is not a privilege at all, but something all people deserve.
This distinction has major ramifications for health policy, as it speaks to where 'justice-minded' folks should direct their intellectual, political financial capital. Given the map above, I think it's clear that the choice would fall outside America. Spending tons of resources trying to change people's eating and exercise habits in the US, or providing relatively straightforward fixes to preventable diseases and conditions that we overcame a century ago?
To continue to focus on domestic policy (even if carving out time for foreign missions as well) would be to a) deny the obvious opportunity costs of domestic efforts and/or b) forsake the moral imperative for the mantle of nationalism (one step closer to conservatives, one step further away from winning them over to your policies).
The odor of local poverty and disease may be stronger given my location, but I should remember that this odor pales in comparison to the stench of death found abroad. There is a continuum of health problems -- and America's are way down on the list.
On a related note, Megan McArdle has an old post on the morality of health care finance, where she makes the argument that most believe in a single-payer system because they feel it is indeed more just, and she explores the alleged violations of justice that the proponents are seeking to rectify.
"1. They are needy. The class we propose to benefit has greater need for the money than the class from whom we propose to take.
2. It's not fair. The class we propose to benefit has been unluckier than the class from whom we propose to take.
3. They are responsible. The class from whom we propose to take has in some way contributed to the problems we are trying to rectify."
In the end, she argues convincingly that these reasons fall flat. Check it out to see if you buy it.Read more!