POVERTY AND HEALTH
There is an increasing recognition of the need to highlight the link between poverty, development and health care. While there is still not enough being done, some initiatives have sought to create a significant shift in this direction.
Under their initiative on Global Health and Foreign Policy, the
Ministers of Foreign Affairs of Brazil, France, Indonesia, Norway, Senegal, South Africa and Thailand issued a statement in Oslo in March 2007. It stated: ‘In today’s era of globalisation and interdependence, there is an urgent need to broaden the scope of
foreign policy. Together, we face a number of pressing challenges that require concerted responses and collaborative efforts. We must encourage new ideas, seek and develop new partnerships and mechanisms, and create new paradigms of co-operation. We believe that health is one of the most important, yet still broadly neglected, long-term foreign policy issues of our time. Life and health are our most precious assets. There is a growing awareness that investment in health is fundamental to economic growth and development.’
According to Sachs, health is a priority goal in its own right, as well as a central input into economic development and poverty reduction. The importance of investing in health has been greatly underestimated, not only by analysts but also by governments of developing countries and the international donor community. Increased investments in health will translate into hundreds of billions of dollars per year of increased income in low-income countries, as poor health leads to a loss in productivity, loss of scarce human resources through death and disability and an increasing diversion of resources from education and other economic development programs. There are potentially large social benefits in ensuring high levels of health coverage of the poor, including a spill-over to wealthier
members of society. The links between economic development of a nation and the health of its people have been clearly stated, however, the reality is that health funding in developing countries is constrained by competing demands and poor policies.