International community care models offer many lessons for US, Mount Sinai study says

Millions of Americans today have the same life expectancy as the national average in the 1970s. But the U.S. can boost life expectancy by learning from other countries, according to a new task force report from the Arnhold Institute for Global Health, part of the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai Health System.

The United States can do better and learn how to boost life expectancy from low- and middle-income countries such as Rwanda, Ethiopia and Brazil – nations that have seen dramatic gains in life expectancy in recent years, the report found.

The task force, which includes healthcare leaders from the U.S. and around the world, convened to report on global approaches that might lead to breakthroughs in health, especially among America's most vulnerable communities.

"As global experience shows us, struggling communities can achieve breakthroughs if they are included in the design of their care," Prabhjot Singh, MD, chair of the task force and director of Arnhold Institute, said in a statement. "To equitably improve health outcomes in the United States, we have to find the world's best solutions and then make them our own."

Agnes Binagwaho, MD, vice chancellor for the University of Health Equity and former minister of health in Rwanda, said it’s critical efforts to improve health are informed by the needs of our communities.

"The lessons we have learned through rebuilding Rwanda's health sector have demonstrated how critical it is to equitably invest in our communities to improve health, a sense of well-being, trust, and social cohesion," Binagwaho said in a statement. "These efforts have inspired us to create more health solutions with less."

The project, supported by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, aims to chart global best practices to tackle access gaps at the community level; explore how primary care doctors can anchor their communities; show how communities and their health systems could track progress; learn how local integrator organizations can better foster ownership for health management in community settings; and find ways to build networks of community-based workers who can help identifying the most pressing community health needs.

"We at Mount Sinai are committed to identifying and embracing the strongest models for community care, regardless of the country of origin," said Dennis S. Charney, MD, president for academic affairs of the Mount Sinai Health System.

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