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HIV/AIDS, Direct Threat To Health

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Investing in the health sector makes good sense for socioeconomic development.

Investing in the health sector makes good sense for socio-economic development. Poor health is a direct threat to life. Globally, the health infrastructure does not exist any more in many areas. Even people are dying in large numbers from malaria, acute respiratory infections, anaemia and acute diarrhoea. We are seeing declining nutrition in children, an increasing rate of tuberculosis, and a high prevalence of other infectious diseases among women and children.

It is known that forced migration completely disrupts normal delivery patterns of health services, including immunizations. What is definitely known is that poverty affects human health both directly and indirectly, by disrupting economic and social systems that address health needs. Recent research shows that increases in diseases such as malaria, tuberculosis, AIDS and bubonic plague among others are associated with poor health system.

There is a need for better understanding of the full impact of environment on health. While the international medical community is slowly waking up and beginning to understand the complex relationships between health, initiatives such as "Peace Through Health" (launched by the Physicians for Global Health Canada and supported by Lancet-McMaster peace conference) advocate for greater role for health professionals in promoting "health as a bridge to peace". This practice is still to catch. Even from my understanding of the issues it seems that several countries (like Sri-Lanka) have been able to make advances in health despite years of conflict.

They have done so by investing in education especially of women and children and primary care and not in sophisticated medical equipment. Sonal Singh said. Directly, poverty kills people and that is unhealthy for them. Indirectly, poverty redirects money from health pursuits to development pursuits, so the health of people suffers. On balance, considering the value of one person to be the same as any other person, the poverty impairs the overall health of the population; that is, more people suffer than benefit. Of course, when future benefits are considered, such as health reforms and facilities for later generations, then it can be argued that the health losses today are more than offset by the health benefits later.

Globally, the rural areas also have been badly affected by the bad health system so they are suffering from livelihood insecurity which manifests itself through a lack of food, shelter, employment and access to basic services. In most rural areas in globally, there is hardly any government personnel. So, the government will require assistance, both financial and technical. Both government and donors need to recognize that civil society particularly international and national NGOs has much to contribute. The strengthening of national civil society will contribute in the long term to ensuring greater accountability and transparency.

Besides, remote areas have still no access to roads and health facilities. More so, because of lack of medicines and timely treatment. In many key health indicators, such as mortality rates and disease prevention and eradication, some countries rank among the worst countries in the world, and this is directly linked to the poverty. Poor people have several other immediate needs. These include access to clean water and health care. In most countries, health posts need to be repaired, re-equipped, re-stocked with medicines, and staffed. Many of the health-care staff need refresher training. And communities need to be involved and trained in the management of their health-care systems. Clearly, a family in poor health is not going to be able to achieve food security.

Many people in the world clearly want to see more investment in the area of health. Health education, on disease control and general health care, would be a major component.

Globally, we have even failed to add to the number of doctors in the public-heath sector despite great potential natural wealth, leaving its citizens prey to famine, disease, and widespread human-rights abuses.

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Journalist, poet and editor Kamala Sarup works at the Cape Collection. Kamala specializes in reporting news and writing stories covering journalism, Peace, Public health, Democracy, Women/Children, development, justice and economic development. (more...)

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