Eliminating racial disparities would save many more lives than technological advances

The number of lives saved by advances in medical technology over the past decade pales in comparison to the lives lost due to racial inequities in the health care system.

According to an analysis of mortality data from 1991-2000, medical advances during that time period saved 176,333 lives. Yet resolving the disparities in death rates between whites and African Americans over that same time period could have prevented 886,202 deaths, according to the study’s authors.

“Five deaths could have been averted for every life saved by medical advances,” the study’s authors said. “The prudence of investing billions [of dollars] in the development of new drugs and technologies while investing only a fraction of that amount in the correction of disparities deserves reconsideration. It is an imbalance that may claim more lives than it saves.”


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