Wednesday, January 31, 2007
Creating Maps of Inequalities
Strange looking map, isn't it? Well, it's just a modified map, a population cartogram, where the land area is shown in proportion to population. Except that this is an inequality map. Here, researchers have taken together data showing how many people suffer from a certain disease in a certain land area, and then represent the map proportionately.
This particular figure shows early neonatal mortality, the deaths of infants in their first week after birth. India has the highest neonatal mortality rate in the world (along with Pakistan, Bangladesh and other countries of the subcontinent).
Pretty sad, isn't it?
Like the author says; "You can say it, you can prove it, you can tabulate it, but it is only when you show it that it hits home"
Statistics are hard to remember. Facts are easily forgotten. But pictures remain in the mind for a long time.
This paper in PLoS Medicine that I happened to glance at is fascinating for many reasons. A picture does indeed speak a thousand words.
There are fascinating, and sometimes surprising insights from the six test examples; public spending on health, private spending on health, neonatal mortality, HIV/AIDS prevalance, and the prevalance of malaria.
To me, it was also depressing to be reminded how badly India scored on all of these. These are just raw numbers from the United Nations Human Development report, taken and plotted.
The explosive development in India is wonderful and welcome, but mostly meaningless if the basic indicators of human life remain depressing.
(You can read, or just look at the pictures in, the complete paper, here)