Poverty and health

Brazil calls for pact on social factors to improve health
Bulletin of the World Health Organisation 89(10): 714-715, October 2011

In this interview with the World Health Organisation, Brazilian Minister of Health Alexandre Padilha calls on other countries around the world to develop a pact to eradicate poverty and hunger. Padhila calls for the launch of a proactive and rational agenda that encompasses the food, pharmaceutical, arms, tobacco and alcohol industries, as well as action to develop and increase the wealth of peoples, setting goals for environmental sustainability and the end of extreme poverty. The last two United Nations meetings on health – on polio and HIV and AIDS – point to the same direction in solving both challenges: equity in the access to prevention measures and treatment, he notes. The Brazilian Ministry of Health has carried out a broad public consultation to prepare a plan to address non-communicable diseases. The prevention and control of these diseases will be the subject of a set of political and governmental policies.

Brazil to work with South Africa against hunger
Southern African Press Association: 10 April 2012

Brazil has agreed to assist South Africa on social development issues, particularly in fighting against poverty and hunger. Brazil is aiming to help 16.2 million Brazilians out of extreme poverty with its comprehensive national poverty alleviation plan, ‘Brasil Sem Misera’. The plan includes cash transfer initiatives, and increased access to education, health, welfare and sanitation. South Africa has expressed a desire to learn about Brazil’s national alleviation plan and its successful Zero Hunger programme.

Breaking the link between poverty and illness

Cutting poverty and reducing the burden of disease are major global development goals. Can strategies tackle these tasks in parallel, by focusing on very poor people? The health sector can borrow strategies from welfare services to reduce the risk of health-related shocks, ease their impact and break the vicious cycle of poverty and ill-health. Poor people often have higher risks of adverse events and fewer means to cope with them than wealthier groups. A paper produced for a UK Department for International Development workshop analyses health-related shocks.

Bringing Marginalised Livelihoods into Focus, 2008-2011
Pointer R: PLAAS, University of the Western Cape, 2012

This report covers a period in which PLAAS sought to clarify and consolidate its vision, and elaborate an agenda for research, policymaking, teaching and training that emphasises the centrality of the dynamics of chronic poverty and structural inequality in South Africa. The particular emphasis is on understanding how the workings of agro-food systems can either perpetuate structural poverty and marginalisation — or alleviate it. Within this broad field of investigation, PLAAS’s work focuses on the dynamics of marginalised livelihoods in agro-food systems; particularly livelihoods that are vulnerable, structurally excluded or adversely incorporated, such as those of farm workers, small and subsistence farmers, artisanal fishers and fishing communities, and the informally self-employed, in urban and in rural contexts.

Building from the ground up: How the foundations of a post-2015 framework should translate into change for people in poverty
Frecheville N and Fischler B: CAFOD, 2013

In this paper, the authors call for a post-2015 framework to support a vision of the world where poor women and men have dignity and are able to flourish through participating in enabling societies and equitable economies that operate within safe ecological boundaries nationally and globally. The framework will: prioritise global issues that support and facilitate transformational change; keep issues that matter most to people in poverty on the international agenda; secure national action that drives progress on the ground; and enable better accountability, data collection, and monitoring and evaluation. CAFOD has identified three areas for action: empowering governance, which enables people to participate in the decision-making which affects their lives; the need for poor women and men to be able to participate in equitable economies and get a fair return for their contribution; and, resilient livelihoods, so that people’s dignity and flourishing are not undermined by environmental shocks and stresses, and development pathways are within ecological limits. These have the potential to transform the lives of people in poverty through addressing the underlying causes of poverty that prevent people from achieving their own aspirations.

Building public services for poverty reduction
Emmett B, Green D, Laws M, et al: Oxfam , 2006

This report highlights how building strong public services is key to transforming the lives of people living in poverty. The authors show that developing countries will only achieve healthy and educated populations if their governments take responsibility for providing essential services.

Building resilient and inclusive food markets: Analysis of trends and actors in food and nutrition security
Quak E: The Broker Online 17 April 2013

To achieve maximum impact on food and nutrition security, knowledge and research policy should focus on local agriculture and food sectors - this means including small-scale farmers in regional food chains as well as making investments in the food system work for the rural poor by taking into account local environmental and cultural values. This article focuses on what a knowledge agenda on food and nutrition security should look like and what actors should be involved. The author argues that one of the main causes of current economic growth without food security is that small-scale farmers are not included in the formal food system and do not benefit from investments in agriculture and food, especially in sub-Saharan African. They also lack access to knowledge to improve their situation. To help create resilient and inclusive food markets, the author recommends strengthening cooperatives and producer organisations, developing comprehensive business models, designing a framework for public-private partnerships that include small-scale farmers and takes into account local cultural and environmental values, taking away the constraints to access knowledge by farmers, and pursuing coherent policies.

Burnt by the scorching sun: climate-induced livelihood transformations, reproductive health, and fertility trajectories in drought-affected communities of Zambia
Rosen J G; Mulenga D; Phiri L; et al: BMC Public Health 21(1501), 1-14, 2021

The authors explored the impact of severe and prolonged droughts on gendered livelihood transitions, women’s social and financial wellbeing, and sexual and reproductive health (SRH) outcomes in two Zambian provinces through in-depth interviews and focus group discussions with 165 adult women and men in five drought-affected districts, and key informant interviews with civic leaders and healthcare providers. Across districts, participants emphasized the toll drought had taken on their livelihoods and communities, leaving farming households with reduced income and food, with many turning to alternative income sources. Female-headed households were perceived as particularly vulnerable to drought, as women’s breadwinning and caregiving responsibilities increased, especially in households where women’s partners out-migrated in search of employment. As household incomes declined, women and girls’ vulnerabilities increased: young children increasingly entered the workforce, and young girls were married when families could not afford school fees and struggled to support them financially. With less income due to drought, many participants could not afford travel to health facilities or resorted to purchasing health commodities, including for family planning, from private retail pharmacies when unavailable from government facilities. Women expressed desires for smaller families, fearing drought would constrain their capacity to support larger families. While participants cited some ongoing activities in their communities to support climate change adaptation, most acknowledged current interventions were insufficient.

Burundi: Hospital officials detain hundreds of insolvent patients
Human Rights Watch, 7 September 2006

Burundian state hospitals are reported to routinely detain patients who are unable to pay their hospital bills, the Human Rights Watch and the Burundian Association for the Protection of Human Rights and Detained Persons said in a report released in September. The patients can be detained for weeks or even months in abysmal conditions. This practice is reported to highlight broader problems of the health system in Burundi, where patients have to pay for their own treatment. The organisations called on the Burundian government to end the practice and to make access to health care for all Burundians a central part of its new Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper.

Campaign launched to reduce maternal mortality in South Africa
UNAIDS: 8 May 2012

The campaign on Accelerated Reduction of Maternal Mortality in Africa (CARMMA) was launched at Osindisweni Hospital in Ethekwini District, KwaZulu-Natal Province on 4 May 2012. CARMMA aims to accelerate the implementation of activities to stem maternal and child mortality and meet Africa’s targets for Millennium Development Goals four and five - to reduce by three quarters the maternal mortality rate and to reduce by two thirds the child mortality rate between 1990 and 2015. South Africa has a rising maternal mortality rate, yet it is one of the last countries in southern Africa to implement the campaign since it was started in 2009. In many of the countries, the national champions of CARMMA or the national authorities have committed to follow-up activities to intensify the reduction of maternal mortality in their countries, including Malawi, Zambia, Rwanda and Swaziland.