Millions of people around the world live in a cycle of poverty and poor health that is difficult to break.
What is the cycle of poverty and poor health?
Poverty increases your chance of getting ill because of:
- Poor nutrition
- Lack of clean water
- Harsh realities that may make putting your health at risk the only way to survive or keep your family safe.
Poor health increases poverty by:
- Reducing a family’s work productivity
- Leading families to sell assets to cover the costs of treatment. This increases poverty and their vulnerability to shocks in the future.
Other factors that contribute:
Infectious diseases such as diarrhoea, tuberculosis, malaria, and HIV – as well as neglected tropical diseases – kill and weaken millions of the poorest and most vulnerable people each year. This takes children and teachers out of school and ruins economies by attacking people in their most productive years.
Where war and internal conflict exists there is another layer of risk and vulnerability that deepens the cycle.
The effects of climate change and environmental degradation are already threatening to destroy livelihoods and spread disease.
Health Poverty Action says:
- Wealthy countries must provide more long-term and predictable aid for health and more of it must go towards strengthening national health systems, not just tackling specific diseases.
- More health workers need to be trained and retained in developing countries. Wealthy countries must support this, and take steps to reduce their own poaching of qualified health professionals from countries that can least afford to lose them.
- Developing country governments must put a greater priority on health.
- Addressing the factors that sustain the cycle of poor health, such as poor nutrition, unsafe water and sanitation and a lack of education must be a priority. This means radically reducing poverty.
- Wealthy countries must take steps to address the critical shortage of effective drugs for diseases that largely affect the poor.