I am far from an expert on medicine but was interested in the difference in mortality in Mexico and the United States on this latest outbreak of swine flu. After reading many of the accounts I noted that many of the individuals in Mexico did not have access to health care and / or delayed going to the doctor and used home remedies or self-medicated until their situation was very bad.
The victims seem to be dying of what is basically pneumonia. Pneumonia is a serious condition, and if left untreated (or not treated until far into its course) it can be deadly, even here in the US. I know several individuals who have gotten some form of pneumonia (or their children) in recent months here in Chicago – and while they missed work and obviously had high concern for any youngsters with the symptoms, they all were treated and came back fine after being ill or out of work for a while.
What you likely are seeing in the difference in mortality is the difference between a broadly based, functioning health care system from a rich society and one for a semi-functioning health care system for a poorer society. Mexico is a pretty developed country – if this sort of flu broke out in Africa it probably wouldn’t even be noticed among the endemic diseases and preventable fatalities that happen every day, sadly enough. As I note in a recent post about Angola, one of the richer African countries (they have oil revenues), a significant portion of their total health care budget goes to sending the richest friends and family of their leader off for foreign doctors overseas, to show where their priorities lie.
The media won’t come out and say it directly because it may be perceived as offensive to Mexican sensibilities but the mortality rate seems to be almost solely due to the differences in the effectiveness of our overall health care systems.