POVERTY HAVE PROFOUND EFFECTS ON PUBLIC HEALTH

KANWAL SALEEM, LAHORE
Aug 20 - 26, 2007

Poverty have profound effects on public health because people living in extreme poverty tend to have more chronic illnesses, more frequent and severe disease complications and make greater demands on the health care system. Poverty's impact is felt most by the nation's children who under the age of 5 are more likely to live in extreme poverty. Poor children are at greater risk of experiencing health problems such as obesity, heart disease and asthma that continue to affect them later in adulthood. The prevalence of these illnesses does not bode well for future generations, said Head Department of Psychiatry Fatima Jinnah Medical College Prof Dr Haroon Rashid Chaudhry while talking to PAGE. "If we amplify the scale by the results of poverty left to run loose, the economic consequence to everybody, to all countrymen, will be substantial," Prof Chaudhry said.

The United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) says 99% of maternal deaths are preventable yet every minute a woman dies from pregnancy-related causes. This loss impacts not only on the family and society, but also on the economy, its latest report says.

PREVENTABLE KILLERS

An estimated over 600,000 women died from complications of pregnancy and childbirth, virtually all in developing countries. For every woman who dies, roughly 20 more suffer serious injury or disability - between 8 million and 20 million a year.

Experts agree that the majority of maternal deaths are preventable through family planning to reduce unintended pregnancies, skilled attendance at all deliveries and timely emergency obstetric care in all cases where complications arise. One of the eight Millennium Development Goals set by world experts was to reduce by three quarters the maternal mortality ratio by 2015. Major reductions in the number of deaths have taken place in countries with either low or moderate levels of maternal mortality. Similar progress, however, has not been made in countries where maternal mortality is high. "If women are healthy then they can jump start the life of their family and the economy."

HIV/Aids Worldwide, young women aged 15-24 are 1.6 times as likely as young men to be HIV positive. "In Africa, HIV/Aids has a young woman's face and many of them are married. It is their husband who brings HIV into the house. "When women are educated, healthy and employed, and able to make decisions about childbearing and reproductive life, everyone benefits". The World Health Organization has already warned that unless concerted effort is undertaken to meet global healthcare goals, the 2015 deadline set by the governments of the world will be missed. Promoting women's health physically and mentally should be a top priority internationally. A progressive society can be measured by the way that its women are treated. If women are healthy then their children and families will have a greater chance of also being healthy and productive. There is no excuse for this grave human inequality.

According to health professionals, health is not a gender issue but a poverty issue. It effects men as women and depends on the area they live. Moreover, the U.N. agency tasked with promoting environmentally sustainable housing has launched a new worldwide alliance with water operators that aims to improve to clean water and basic sanitation in impoverished communities.

The new Global Water Operators Partnership Alliance is designed to strengthen the capacities of the public water operators that provide more than 90 per cent of water and sanitation services in developing nations.

The operators will be able to share information more easily with each other and draw on professional capacity and other resources provided by governments and donor agencies, the UN Settlements Programme (UN-HABITAT) said.