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Difference Between America and South Korea Health Care Essay

Each country has a different procedure when it comes to their health care and their care with pre and postnatal. Some countries can spend a great amount of money on their health care (such as the United States) but still might not have the best health care in the world. Others have special arrangements that new mothers and infants can go through to make sure that they start off their life in a good and healthy environment. In this paper I am going to compare and contrast the infant health care and the overall prenatal care in the United States and South Korea by referencing multiple articles and textbooks that focus on this subject.

Both countries have various ways in which they handle their health system and the care of their newborns. There are many factors that determine the health of a newborn such as the nutrition that the soon to be mother consumes, the environment that the mother and the child live in, and the hospital that the child is born in. Throughout the years each of these countries have been putting time and money into their health system with the goal of having the most outstanding health care system in the world.

Their progress can be recorded in many different ways which will be discussed within this paper. Also the United States and South Korea both have very different systems when dealing with prenatal and infant care. One way that the infant care of a country is measured is through the mortality rate of the infants. In fact (Bae et al. , 2011), “Neonatal mortality rate (NMR) and infant mortality rate (IMR) are two of the most important indices reflecting the level of public health of a country” (Abstract Section Para. 1).

Without measuring and keeping track of these mortality rates, researches would not be able to figure out what countries are working towards a better health care service and which countries need help. Even though the United States is a developed country, and unlike less developed countries, it should have a high mortality rate. In all actuality the United States has one of the worst mortality rates compared to other counties. According to Levine and Munsch (2012), “Despite the wealth and the availability of (but not always access to) world-class edical facilities, the United States has the same or worse infant mortality rates compared with 37 other industrialized countries (Hoover Institution, 2007)” (p. 176).

There are reasons for the high mortality rate, such as the fact there are many different races, ethnicities, and social statuses within the United States. Race and ethnicity do have an input in a person’s health and their life style. Some races (such as Asians) have a higher life expectancy and a lower mortality rate throughout their race because of the way that they are raised and the traditions that they fallow.

The social statuses of the expecting mothers also have an impact on the future children because when the parent is part of a higher social status, it is assumed that they have a higher level of education and therefore know more about how they should care for themselves and their infants. The opposite goes for people who are part of a lower social status. The United States has been lowering the number of infant mortality rates by putting programs in affect to try and help out the health system.

Some of these programs are (Bae et al. , 2011), …execution of Medicaid (1965), Medicare (1965), Supplemental Security Income (social health care security programs for children and pregnant women of the lower income group), provision of State Children’s Health Insurance Programs, Children Vaccine Program, Health Start Program (1991, Early Head Start Program, full day care service, parent education, case management, Community Resource Assistant)…” (Discussion Section para. ) and much more. The United States has more programs to help reduce the risk of infant mortality and various diseases, they are also working on other ways to help out the infant mortality rate by focusing on premature and low-birth weight babies. According to Levine and Munsch (2012), “Birth data compiled by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (2007a) for 2005 found that the rate of premature births in the United States is 12. 7% or 525,000 babies annually” (p. 178).

This number is high for premature births and these programs that are being put into place should help lower it. Even with all of these programs working toward a better health system, South Korea has less of an infant mortality rate. South Korea has improved its health system throughout the years and it has shown in their child care. Their country includes programs such as (Bae et al. , 2011), …tests for inborn error of metabolism and care for sick infants (1991), registration of pre-term and congenital abnormal neonates and medical expense support 2000), early diagnosis of deafness (2007), campaign for preventing blindness of preschoolers (2000), prevention of maternal hepatitis B infection (2002…(Discussion Section Para. 1) and much more. There are also more programs that are scheduled to appear throughout the fallowing years. As mentioned before it is easier for South Korea to keep their infant mortality rate down because they do not have to focus on many different nationalities in their country, most of the population in South Korea are Korean.

If you compare the two countries and the programs that they are producing it is shown the South Korea has been receiving more advances in the 2000’s while the United States had a breakthrough in their health care in the 1900’s. Copyright © 2011 The Korean Academy of Medical Sciences. This chart shows that South Korea started off with a higher mortality rate and it had a drastic decline. The United States had a decline in the 1900’s and during the 2000’s it started to stabilize. Copyright © 2011 The Korean Academy of Medical Sciences.

This Chart gives a better understanding as to where the United States and South Korea stand with other countries. Neither of them are the best or the worst country, however they are on opposite sides of the scale. It is expected for the United States to have a lower mortality rate because of the amount of money put into their health care system, but according to the chart this does not appear to be true. South Korea has a lot of respect when it comes to their infants. They see their children as the future to their country and they are willing to do anything to make sure that their infants are well taken care of.

This is shown through the data on the chart above because South Korea is closer to the bottom of the scale instead of the top. Both South Korea and the United States have a different hospital system. South Korea has a post-natal care facility called a sanhujoriwon. According to Yeon-soo (2013), Dozens of mothers and newborns stay together in such facilities and more than half of the places operate as non-medical institutions, leading to occasional problems with hygienic management.

To prevent mass infection among babies at sanhujoriwons, the government recently beefed up disease surveillance of workers there and instituted a standard terms of use (Para. 2) South Korea is the only country that has these facilities available for their new mothers. Many pregnant women from all over the world come to South Korea just to get this treatment after they give birth.

However, this facility is expensive, so not everyone can afford this luxury. According to Yeon-soo (2013), “The cost of using an upscale sanhujoriwon is 5 million (4,730 U. S. dollars) to 10 million won (9,460 dollars) for a two-week stay, but the facility is so popular that a reservation might not be possible if not made six to seven months prior to childbirth” (para. 4). That is the price for the most expensive and luxurious places; other places can be thousands of dollars cheaper. In these facilities the nurses make sure that the patients get the right exercise (such as light yoga) and eat the correct food so that their recovery after birth will be as pleasant and beneficial as possible.

They also care for the newborn and make sure that they get the nutrients that they need in the first couple of weeks. This helps out the new mother because they have time to relax and recover while their baby is getting the necessary care that is needed. When the mother is ready to go home after a couple of weeks they have a better time adjusting to their new life with a baby because they had the rest and help that they needed. In the United States they do not have these same accommodations but they to do have systems to help out the new mother.

The United States has many medical professionals to help with neonatal and postnatal care. Some of those occupations include (Link, Jakubeez, & Temple, 2013), “…neonatologist, neonatal nurse practitioners, bedside nurses, a clinical pharmacist, neonatal respiratory therapists, a nutritionist, a social worker, medical residents, and medical students” (Backgroud Section Para. 1). With a hospital consisting of these medical professionals the patients are likely to get the help that they need while going through the birthing process.

Also many hospitals are expanding in the United States to include more room for neonatal care. The Hillcrest Hospital in Cleveland, Ohio expanded their hospital and included (Link, Jakubeez, & Temple, 2013),…”a new 24 bed level 3 neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) and additional beds to accommodate high-risk maternal medicine patients” (Background Section para. 1). They expanded their hospital so that they could care for more patients at once; also so that the patients got the opportunity to receive the best care available to them.

Usually after a mother gives birth (depending on the birthing method), the mother will stay at the hospital for a couple of days, and then return home. While at the hospital the nurses will help the mother with nursing, feeding, and changing the child. They will also make sure that the mother is recovering well after the birthing process. Both in the United States and in South Korea, they have programs to help mothers and infants after birth. However, the system in South Korea is more advanced because it keeps the mother and infants for a longer period of time which is more beneficial to their health.

Nutrition to a pregnant women is a very important factor. If the mother does not get the correct nutrition than they are putting themselves at risks for multiple diseases. Also they are not only putting themselves at risk but they are also putting their unborn baby at risk. Some diseases that the mother can catch from bad nutrition are gestational diabetes, gestational hyptertension, and preeclampsia. Gestational diabetes when not looked after turns into gestational hyptertension; the worst out of the three that were mentioned is preeclampsia.

This is because (Sizer & Whitney, 2011), “Preeclampsia affects almost all of the mother’s organs—the circulatory system, liver, kidneys, and brain” (p. 508). If all of these organs are affected than the baby is at a serious risk of getting hurt. Most of these diseases will disappear after giving birth, but it raises the risk for the mother to catch another serious disease, such as type two diabetes. When a pregnant women is diagnosed with having gestational diabetes they are more likely to catch type two diabetes later on in life. It might not be right away but it could happen a couple of years later.

Also they are more likely to be diagnosed with gestational diabetes again if they ever become pregnant again. Being overweight and pregnant is a big risk during pregnancy. In fact (Chen et al. , 2013), “Metabolic impairments in maternal obesity and gestational diabetes (GDM) induce an abnormal environment in peripheral blood and cause vascular structure alterations which affect the placental development and function” (Abstract section Para. 1). As mentioned before it does not only affect the mother but it also affects the unborn child, but it also affects the child after they are born. Using APA, 2013), “The historical poor outcomes of pre-gestational diabetes are testimony to the harmful effects of high glucose in early pregnancy as manifest by congenital malformations and in later pregnancy as evidenced by LGA [large-for-gestational-age] and its consequences. ” (para. 2).

The reason why this is more of a problem in the United States is because they have a higher obesity record than South Korea has. So more women throughout the United States are developing these diseases than women in South Korea. (Amamoto et al. 005) “Comparison of body mass index (BMI) distributions in Japan and Korea showed the highest value in the normal category (74%) together with a very low obesity rate (1. 2%)” (Results section para. 1). Since South Korea has a low obesity rate within their, they are less likely to give birth to large babies. However, the opposite goes for Women who live in the United States and are obese. This is a problem because (Sizer & Whitney, 2011), “The infant of an obese mother may be larger than normal and may be large even if born prematurely.

The large early baby may not be recognized as premature and thus may not receive the special medical care required” (p. 492). A premature baby might not be completely developed and need medical assistance after the birth. If the doctors don’t know that the baby has developmental problems than the newborn runs the risk of dying. This could also explained for the high mortality rate in the United States since they have a higher rate of obesity and it is difficult to label a child as premature and unhealthy if they are at a healthy weight.

The environment that the pregnant women is living in is very crucial to her and her unborn child’s health. There are many illnesses that a woman can pass on to her child from environments that are hazards. When a mother is in her embryonic stage her baby is at a point of rapid development. This is a very crucial stage because the baby is starting to grow their organs, however they are also more likely to catch a disease which could cause a deformity during this stage.

If the mother catches a disease than they are more likely during this stage to pass it to their baby which could cause a miscarriage or deformities. The issue of the environment is more of a problem for South Korea because of all the pollution that is in the air. South Korea is a very overpopulated country (especially in Seoul) and with all the cars and factories the air gets easily polluted. According to Sizer and Whitney (2011), “Pregnant women who are exposed to contaminants such as lead often bear low-birthweight infants with delayed mental and psychomotor developments” (p. 04). This is also an issue in some part of the United States, but it depends on where the person lives. If a pregnant women lives next to a factory that produces hazardous smoke than they are more likely to give birth to a baby with deformities. However, in South Korea many pregnant women are exposed to polluted air for most of their pregnancy and some of their babies are born with serious skin problems. There is air pollution everywhere a pregnant women goes but if the pollution is high than they are putting the baby more at risk.

There are many factors that play into the prenatal and postnatal health. South Korea and the United States both work hard to make their health system the best that it can be. They have many programs in place and many more programs to come in the future. They are working on their hospitals to make sure they are as convenient as possible so that the mothers and newborns can have the best possible health care. Both countries are working towards lowering their mortality rate and lessening the amount of premature and low-birth-weight children.

There is also the nutrition and the environment that the mother is exposed too. A simple factor as being obese can cause serious damage to the mother and the unborn child. Many expecting mothers do not understand that concept so they do not see the risk in it. Of course one country has a better health care system then the other, however they both have pros and cons to their countries. The United States has more funds to deal with and has more medical professionals working in their hospitals so that their patients can receive the best care possible.

The negative aspect of the United States is that they have a high obesity rate and a high mortality rate. They also need to work on more programs to lower their mortality rate so that they can have the best possible health care. South Korea has excellent postnatal care, which many people around the world want to experience and be a part of. Also they have a low level of obesity so they are not as likely as the United States to get the diseases that come along with being overweight.

The negative aspect of Korea is that their environment is not the best because of the pollution that is surrounding the air. South Korea is an overpopulated country so the air is filled with pollutants that are not good for a pregnant woman and can cause low-birth weight and birth defects. Overall both countries have areas in their health care system that they have to work on and areas outside of their health care system that they need to address. However, as of right now South Korea has a more exceptional health care system than the United States, especially when it comes to infant care.


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