The Disease of Poverty
Poverty is a disease. It steals opportunity, kills the most vulnerable and destroys the lives of people living in its grip.
At the beginning of the 21st Century, nearly 30% of humanity bore the triple burden of poverty, hunger and malnutrition.1 The disparities and inequality in public health care that translated to shorter life expectancies then continue to stalk the poor today. They're made worse by the COVID-19 pandemic and health poverty crisis.
The World Bank estimates that the coronavirus pandemic and global recession will cause over 1.4% of the world's population (88 million to 115 million) to fall into extreme poverty.2 The first increase in the global poverty rate in more than 20 years,2 and a clear illustration for the connectivity and relationship between poverty and health.
The Relationship Between Poverty and Health
The disadvantages poverty present to poor children born in low- and middle-income countries only grow larger as the children age. Poor children that fall behind during early stages of child development face considerable challenges trying to catch up. They become victims of a health-poverty trap without resources, support or hope for change.
Getting sick or experiencing a health emergency while living in poverty highlights the inequalities facing the poor, including lack of access to health care, affordable medication and basic lifesaving interventions. Poverty prevents children living in poverty from developing in a healthy manner, and unhealthy children are unequipped to overcome the obstacles poverty places before them socially, emotionally and economically.
Quite simply, a healthy child can perform better in school, enjoy a more productive adult life as a result, and someday raise their own children with better health outcomes because the generational cycle of poverty can be broken when a child is and remains healthy.