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A sure way to protect our health

You would think those countries that have cluttered housing issues, or insufficient elbow room for its residents, would be full of crime, neighbourhood squabbles and health problems. Well, I'd think that - particularly as I hate hearing other people's parties, TV sets and arguments.

But a funny thing happened on the way to understanding myself and these over-crowding problems when I heard about the scene in Macau, Monaco and Hong kong - just to pick three massively over-crowded communities. They all boast three things that Bermuda does not - National Health Care programmes funded by the government for EVERYONE; massive gambling industries aimed at tourism, and, here's the biggy - they are three of the five countries on this planet that have their citizens living longer than anyone else!


And so, because it annoyed me that over-crowding leads to longevity, I looked into why.

And the results were telling.

Gambling, it seems, funds health care in these three tiny countries and a well funded, free health care programme for its citizens leads to - yep - you guessed it - longer life. And that is regardless of the number of pulses running around in cramped areas.

So at a time when Minister Zane DeSilva has just announced the Eat Well Bermuda campaign to much applause and fanfare, we still have this country sporting the highest incidence of diabetes per capita to anywhere else. But it doesn't have to be that way.

Look at these stats by way of comparison:

Bermuda's population is 66,000. That's 1,275 people per km.

Macau's population is 544,000. That's 18,534 people per km.

Hong Kong's population is seven million. That's 6,480 people per km.

And then there is Monaco, which on many playing fields, is comparable to Bda. It has 36,000 residents. But, sadly for them, has 16,923 people per km.

Now, all of those three countries have almost identical year round weather to Bda and all are in some ways, like Bda, dependent on exports from larger neighbours.

Yet....they manage to help their residents live longer than Bda does.

More facts - According to the CIA World Factbook (2011) the Life Expectancty rankings are:

(1) Monaco at 89.93 years per resident; (2) Macau 84.41; (5) Hong Kong 82.04, and even Australia is up there at (6) 81.81. The horse racing industry is the biggest sport in Australia by far in terms of participation and generated revenue. Bermuda is ranked a respectable 21ist on the list (80.71) - but is hindered by the diabetes epidemic here. Just as a footnote to all the Americans and English reading this, the US came in 50th (expectancy of 78 years) and England was 28th (80).

Which leads me to the common denominator of the top five - gambling as a source of sustainability of residents and a potential massive panacea to the escalating diabetes problem, which we all know makes Bda pro rata, the highest sufferer of diabetes in the world. Imagine that - without diabetes being so frighteningly high, Bda would place right up in the top five in terms of longevity of residents. That is huge to ponder on EVERY level.

But we dont have a national lottery that can help fund diabetes. Not yet anyway. Minister Wayne Furbert is meeting this very week with a company that wants to start a national lottery in Bermuda with portions of the revenue headed straight to the Bda Diabetes Association.

"Which we could do with in a very big way," lamented the Bda Diabetes Chairman, David Hills, a diabetes sufferer. "For any government to totally fund a programme to curb the spread of diabetes, would bankrupt it. At the moment we get no official government funding in Bermuda so if these gambling models were implemented, and we received funding, we could start a greater education and awareness programme here in Bda." In short, the BDA would be saving lives.

Ponder that.

The Hong Kong Jockey Club donates, yes read that again, donates US$255 million a year out of its own pockets to health care in HK. In Macau, 70 per cent of all gambling revenue is directed toward the national health care program, while in Monaco, gambling streams go toward the government which prides itself on FREE health care to all residents.

In Australia, I am proud to announce, 14 percent of revenue garnered just through horse racing, an amount that comes to around $200 million annually, goes to the government coffers. And the health care model in Australia is simple - everyone is taken care of.

So, Bermuda, you have a choice.

Do you quickly accept the inevitability of gambling coming to Bda either through casinos or a national lottery, or do you remain bullheaded, pigheaded and as a result watch your fellow man die an early death?

Casino gambling brings its own ills and I for one am probably not an advocate of that form of gambling - but which is the lessor of two evils? Revenue generated from an activity that will detrimentally effect a small percentage of households here, or accepting there will be collateral damage for the greater cause of most peoples here?

Hard one - so maybe Minister Furbert and the lottery idea is the safest way to go.

After all, life is one big lottery and Bda's people are not getting a long term run at it, presently!

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Published March 21, 2012 at 2:00 am (Updated March 21, 2012 at 9:23 am)

A sure way to protect our health

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