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 January 01, 2012


In The Name of ALLAH The Almighty

Impact of Poverty on Health

The impact of poverty on health is a key focus of public health. Those with low incomes have lower health status than those with higher incomes. (In Health, United States, 1998). “Poverty is multidimensional concept and ill health is one of the characteristic of poverty”(WHO,2003).

Poor people are those who have minimum sort of resources to survive. Poor face particular challenges in maintaining their health. They have limited health care facilities with limited resources and it forces people to live in poor environmental condition without proper shelter, clean water, proper sanitation, low education level, awareness of once health, financial barriers to access hospitals, lack of access to health care facilities (long distance), inadequate facilities in hospitals and lack of resource for maintaining good health have negative impact on the health of poor population. According to study of American health 1998, “those with low incomes have lower health status than those with higher income; poor population is greater risk of becoming ill and poverty effect access to health care facilities. In poor nations, up to 20% of children die before the age of five while 1% in richer country, 50% of children are malnourished while 5% in wealthier nations. Maternal mortality rate is also higher in poor nations; life expectancy is sixteen years shorter for man and twenty years shorter for women in poor countries than in high. There are three major causes of poverty, poor economy of the country, corruption and lack of education. These factors greatly affect growth of a nation. Poor economy of the country greatly affects its people, it predispose peoples to remain poor because of lack of resources, education and developmental projects in a country. Based on the result of Global corruption Barometer (2003), “corruption hits the poor hardest”. Due to corruption, poor are becoming poorer day by day and rich are becoming richer day by day. People are more materialistic there is no morality everyone is running after money to earn more and more by using unfair means.

It affects the poor’s by direct and indirect mean, directly through increases taxation, increases cost of basic necessities, lowering their quality, inequality in basic services education, health, sanitation and inequality in jobs distribution. It indirectly affect by inequality in resource distribution diverting benefits away from poor, reducing growth and developmental projects for poor. As Claire short declared on international development report “Corruption is a crime against the poor”, it affects their basic rights they will have lack of access to education, health, and other basic services.

 Thus poor people remain under poverty chain and many health issues such as hunger, malnutrition and other diseases arise due to lack of access to health and lack of education. “People with high level of education have better health status and longer life expectancy, education is the foundation for economic development for individual, family and community”( TranThi Mai Oanh, March 2009). Education also play important factor for the growth of a nation and peoples, Lack of education increases mortality and morbidity rate of a country. As PRSP (Zambia) stated “the mortality rate increase when health and education level is low”. Lack of education directly affect poverty rate. people with low education do not have concept about earning sources, modern developmental projects, don’t get developmental opportunities, so can’t get good jobs for earning money and they do not have technological skills as well. Thus it greatly affects its people, it predispose people to remain poor because of lack of resources, education and developmental projects.

Poverty has devastating impact on the health of poor’s. It reduces productivity and lead to diminished quality of life; the poor are more exposed to personal and environmental diseases. They have less knowledge of disease and have many barriers to access health care facilities. “Poverty causes ill health and ill health causes poverty. Poor people are more likely to be ill, but less able to access health care”(Tran Thi Mai Oanh, March 2009). The barriers to assess health care facilities are financial barrier and geographical barrier. The high cost of medical care reduces the productivity of poor’s and predisposes them to become poorer. Geographical barrier is also major problem in rural or poor areas they have to travel long distances to access health services, people in mountainous area cannot access health care facilities as compared to urban because the distance of transportation and cost can make it difficult for poor to afford. As PRSP (Albania’s) stated “20 to30% of disadvantaged communities have no reads leading to community centers and their services”. Thus many poor communities cannot afford hospital care and cannot access to hospitals thus mortality and morbidity is more in poor communities as compared to rich communities. The poor people have poor life style; they live in without clean water, proper sanitation, and proper nutrition thus they are more prone to diseases like malnutrition, infectious diseases, diarrhea, malaria and other chronic problems like hepatitis, HIV/AIDS. The conditions which greatly influence the health of
poorer are unhygienic living style, unhealthy activities (such as drug abuse), unawareness, stress, low self steam, unemployment depression, pollution and stressful jobs. “The poor suffer worse health and die younger. They have higher than average child and maternal mortality, higher level of disease, more limited access to health care and social protection (shelley Philips, 2003). Thus we conclude that poor have worse health outcome than other social group.

Many developmental organizations are working in grass root level to overcome poverty such as (PRSP) working in 23 countries. Beyond this three of eight, Millennium development goals are health and poverty related, working on reducing poverty and achieving improvements in health.

Aftab Khan Mazhandranii
AKUH, Karachi


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