Development + Health
There is a correlation between a country's per capita income and its levels of health (measured by life expectancy, infant mortality, overall death rates and incidence of particular diseases)
In sub-Saharan Africa, around 65% of deaths are the result of infectious disease + causes related to birth and maternity.
In developed countries, only 5% of deaths have these causes. The majority of deaths in developed countries are from non-infectious medical conditions - e,g heart disease (Sutcliffe 2001) These are associated with lifestyle factors - fatty diets. These are more likely to occur the longer a person lives.
In developing countries, the main health problems are communicable diseases (polio, cholera etc) and airborne diseases (meningitis, whooping cough etc.) As well as diseases spread by insects.
These are still found in developed countries but are treated effectively and are rarely fatal.
Disease in the south tends to affect children particularly, as well as women - it is also more common amongst rural populations (less access to healthcare, clean water etc.)
Western controls on diseases:
- Improvements in nutrition and diet
- Improvements in hygeine
- Changes in reproductive behaviour
All three factors were helped by improvements in education and literacy.
With colonialism, developing countries inherited healthcare based on costly western hospitals in cities, doctors are trained for this system, but there is no financial incentive to work in poor rural areas - leading to the push of doctors working in the North.
Developing countries face a choice between:
- Selective biomedical intervention (e.g mass vaccination programmes), which lead to rapid reductions in child mortality but aren't sustainable.
- Comprehensive, community based primary healthcare with an emphasis on health education and disease prevention.
Developing countries are entering the epidemiologic transition - main problem changes from infectious diseases to diseases of affluence.
Before the transition, infectious diseases were widespread, infant and child mortality high and life expectancy low. Improvements in nutrition, hygeine and sanitation lead to falling death rates from infectious diseases.
After the transition, infant and child mortality rates are low, life expectancy is high and deaths from infectious diseases are negligible.
Developing countries should get aid and expertise from the developed world, drop traditional medical practices and concentrate on centralized primary healthcare with an emphasis on mass immunization against disease.
There are a number of factors which affect health in developing countries:
- Adoption of lifestyles of the rich (Diets high in fat)
- The power of TNCs to sell these products, prevent their restriction and advertise them irresponsibly.
- Pollution and environmental damage caused by TNCs which may affect health.
- Pharmaceutical TNCs being reluctant to make their products affordable, or to allow developing countries to manufacture their own generic versions.
- Poor funding of medical research which would improve health in the South.