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Why We Need To Treat America's Poorest Neighborhoods Like Developing Countries

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AMERICAS POOREST NEIGHBORHOODS
WATERBURY, CT - MAY 20: Randy Ruella, 3, waits in line for groceries at the Greater Waterbury Interfaith Ministries on May 20, 2013 in Waterbury, Connecticut. Waterbury, once a thriving industrial city with one of the largest brass manufacturing bases in the world, has suffered economically in recent decades as manufacturing jobs have left the area. According to recent census data, 20.6%. of the city's residents were living below the poverty level. Greater Waterbury Interfaith Ministries provide | Getty

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The average life expectancy in Japan right now, home to one of the healthiest, longest-living populations in the world, is about 83 years. That's four years longer than in the United States, a decade longer than in much of North Africa, and as many as 30 years longer than some war-torn parts of the world like Sierra Leone.

These global patterns are well-known, but we seldom look at our own communities in the same way.

"Most people appreciate at a country level that there are huge disparities in health between the U.S. and, for example, countries in Africa," says David Fleming, the public health director and health officer for Seattle and King County. "I think what is not as obvious to most people is that you don’t need to go any further than your front door, and most of us are living in communities where those same profound differences occur across much smaller geographic areas."

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