World’s worst health care system


For all the talk about the U.S. health care system being awful and not covering many people and about Canada’s health care system having a shortage of doctors, especially in Ontario, these issues pale in comparison to the country with the worst health care system on the planet. Imagine a place where amputations take place without the use of an anesthesia and your only relief from the pain is when you pass out from it. This is one of the many terrible outcomes when a country spends less than $1 per person, per year on their health care system. So which country am I talking about? North Korea.

According to an article I read recently in the New York Times (click here to read it), Amnesty International, the human rights group, said that North Korea’s health care system is far worse than they would have the world believe. It cites defectors of the isolated country who said in interviews that there are entire cities in North Korea that do not even have one ambulance and that people often pay doctors with food, alcohol and cigarettes. This is obviously not the way to effectively govern a country.

The problem North Korea has other than shooting themselves in the foot all the time by isolating themselves from most other countries is that the distribution of the money the government spends is far too lopsided. They spend a fortune on their military and that leaves nothing for most other facets of society. I am sure that soldiers and military personnel receive better health care and probably would not have stories as scary as some of these defectors that were interviewed. However, because the money the government has is very limited, they choose to spend all of it in one place and leave nothing for the civilian population.

This money allocation strategy actually gives North Korea the opposite of what they want, which is a country with a population that is healthy and happy enough to want to keep the status quo. When the average citizen sees that the soldiers get relatively good health care and food and they and their families are forced to eat grass and tree bark, then even the most brainwashed of societies (which North Koreans are) would eventually not want to support that, at least not internally. It actually makes the country weaker than it would if the money was allocated a little more equally, even if that meant giving less to the military and more to the civilian side. This is something that North Korea has obviously not figured out.

This situation has been going on for many decades and it appears that it is not about to change. However, with Kim Jong-Il rumoured to be headed for retirement and handing over the power to his son, there is a small chance that the people will see an opportunity to change their future. It is doubtful though because this is one of, if not the most brainwashed societies on earth. The lesson to take away here is that allocation of funds is very important and usually the right way to approach it is by spreading out the money over many different areas versus putting 100% in one thing and ignoring the rest.