Improving nutrition would have broad and generally non-specific (or multipurpose) benefits in reducing the effects of infectious diseases. Non-specific public health measures tend to be underestimated in their impact, as the benefits are spread among so many conditions. The estimates in this paper try to capture this broad effect, using underweight (itself a non-specific measure) as an indicator of inadequate nutritional status, in part at least caused by inadequate diet. The results reinforce the case that SubSaharan Africa and Asia (especially South Asia) have the greatest needs. The effects of malnutrition, particularly as a risk factor, are very extensive, implying large potential benefits to health from addressing malnutrition. More attention to public nutrition could be the most effective investment in preventing ill-health and premature mortality throughout much of the developing world.
Poverty and health
The extent to which growth reduces global poverty has been disputed for 30 years. It is possible for consumption of the poor to grow less rapidly than national consumption, without any increase in measured inequality. Current statistical procedures in poor countries understate the rate of global poverty reduction, and overstate growth in the world, argues this research paper.
Rapid economic growth in East and South Asia over the last couple of decades has been responsible for a decrease in the number of people living in extreme poverty in developing countries, from 40 percent of global population in 1981 to 21 percent in 2001. However, Africa, Latin America, Eastern Europe and Central Asia are still far from reaching the U.N. Millennium Development Goal of halving poverty levels by 2015, says a new World Bank report. According to World Development Indicators 2004, East and South Asia, particularly China and India, have lifted 500 million people out of extreme poverty - those living on less than $1 a day - in 20 years.
The paper examines the relationships between income inequality, social inequalities and individual health. The role of social cohesion is analysed vis-à-vis the status and provision of public goods as they foster the integration and formation of social capital. In such paradigms, equality and equity constitute fundamental dynamics to understand or comprehend well-being, and the needs for equitable income redistribution as mediums for growth and social developments.
The Population Reference Bureau has recently produced the report, "Improving the Health of the World's Poorest People." Despite the dramatic improvements in public health achieved in the 20th century, large disparities in health persist both within and between countries. Although governments widely agree that improving the health of poor people is a priority, programs designed to benefit the poor have not been entirely successful. This Bulletin examines facets of the poor-rich health divide, factors that play a role in health disparities, and approaches for improving the health of people living in extreme poverty.
A package of policies is required to deal with the multi-faceted nature of barriers to health care in developing countries, according to a paper from the Centre for Health Policy's School of Public Health, at the University of the Witwaterstrand, South Africa. This package would have higher levels of taxation of higher income groups, insurance in proportion to income and would allow greater cross-subsidisation across groups, with exemption schemes and low or no user fees. Increasing health expenditure is another important means of increasing provision for the poor, but the impact of any increase will depend on how resources are allocated. The paper says most developing countries aim for universal access to health but in reality, health systems are often ineffective at reaching the poor, as the poor face greater cost-related barriers to accessing health care.
This paper reviews a set of key health policies and examines the factors that influence their effectiveness.
Sweeping changes in public health have transformed life over the past century. On average, people live longer, healthier lives than ever before. Even so, this past century's revolution in human health and well-being is incomplete. For people living on less than US$1 per day - and according to the World Bank there are more than 1 billion of them - health services and modern medicines are still out of reach. Moreover, many initiatives to improve the health of people in extreme poverty have been unsuccessful. A forthcoming Population Reference Bureau publication, "Improving the Health of the World's Poorest People," delves into the poor-rich health divide and what can be done to shrink it.
Poverty reduction efforts in Malawi pivot on the twin strategies of the Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper (PRSP) and decentralisation. Yet researchers argue that the Malawi PRSP represents a mixture of policies and generalities that could equally well have appeared in any strategic document of the past 30 years. A paper from the University of East Anglia’s Overseas Development Group takes a sceptical view of the PRSP and decentralisation processes in Malawi. The authors argue that PRSP-generated poverty indicators cannot reveal causes and effects regarding the opportunities and constraints experienced by citizens. The report shows that creating an enabling environment for people to construct their own routes out of poverty may be prevalent in many PRSPs, but the nature of public sector roles and modes of conduct required to build such an enabling environment are poorly articulated by both donors and governments.
Proper nutrition is a powerful good: people who are well-fed are generally healthy. Healthy women can lead more fulfilling lives; healthy children learn more in school and out. Good nutrition benefits families, their communities and the world as a whole. Malnutrition is, by the same logic, devastating. It plays a part in more than half of all child deaths worldwide. It perpetuates poverty. Malnutrition blunts the intellect and saps the productivity of everyone it touches, said a new report released by Unicef for the World Economic Forum.
Long-term and vigorously pursued redistributive strategies and policy frameworks are key to eradicating poverty and inequality in South Africa. In addition, sustainable poverty eradication programmes ought to be elaborated within a broader redistributive framework within which development activities would be located. This would also create space for winning back the support of civil society, according to a paper from the Southern African Regional Poverty Network that reviews the status of poverty and inequality in South Africa before exploring the contestation over how to lessen both.