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Sun Sep 5, 2021, 06:03 PM

Costa Ricans Live Longer Than Us. What's the Secret? ( Annals of Medicine August Issue )

We’ve starved our public-health sector. The Costa Rica model demonstrates what happens when you put it first.

By Atul Gawande
August 23, 2021

The cemetery in Atenas, Costa Rica, a small town in the mountains that line the country’s lush Central Valley, contains hundreds of flat white crypt markers laid out in neat rows like mah-jongg tiles, extending in every direction. On a clear afternoon in April, Álvaro Salas Chaves, who was born in Atenas in 1950, guided me through the graves.

“As a child, I witnessed every day two, three, four funerals for kids,” he said. “The cemetery was divided into two. One side for adults, and the other side for children, because the number of deaths was so high.”

Salas grew up in a small, red-roofed farmhouse just down the road. “I was a peasant boy,” he said. He slept on a straw mattress, with a woodstove in the kitchen, and no plumbing. Still, his family was among the better-off in Atenas, then a community of nine thousand people. His parents had a patch of land where they grew coffee, plantains, mangoes, and oranges, and they had three milk cows. His father also had a store on the main road through town, where he sold various staples and local produce. Situated halfway between the capital, San José, and the Pacific port city of Puntarenas, Atenas was a stop for oxcarts travelling to the coast, and the store did good business.

On the cemetery road, however, there was another kind of traffic. When someone died, a long procession of family members and neighbors trailed the coffin, passing in front of Salas’s home. The images of the mourners are still with him.

“At that time, Costa Rica was the most sad country, because the infant-mortality rate was very high,” he said. In 1950, around ten per cent of children died before their first birthday, most often from diarrheal illnesses, respiratory infections, and birth complications. Many youths and young adults died as well. The country’s average life expectancy was fifty-five years, thirteen years shorter than that in the United States at the time.


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Reply Costa Ricans Live Longer Than Us. What's the Secret? ( Annals of Medicine August Issue ) (Original post)
BeckyDem Sep 2021 OP
brush Sep 2021 #1
BeckyDem Sep 2021 #2

Response to BeckyDem (Original post)

Sun Sep 5, 2021, 06:16 PM

1. Living in America generates a lot of stress. Having to make the money...

rent/mortgage due every month, getting kids out and to day care or school, rushing to get to work thru miles of traffic, dealing with the office ass hole, the bad boss (you're lucky if you get a good one), reverse the whole process at the end of the day. God!

Stress up the yin-yang. And also all the male/female stress, the constant undercurrents of racial stress from our multi-cultural society, hoping to not get sick/not enough healthcare, not to mention trumpism and politics...makes ya wanna retire to Costa Rico yesterday.

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Response to brush (Reply #1)

Sun Sep 5, 2021, 06:30 PM

2. +1

It shouldn't be this hard but it is.

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