Health and Medical News and Resources

General interest items edited by Janice Flahiff

Disease Burden Links Ecology to Economic Growth

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Figure 1. (Left) Per capita DALYs lost to VBPDs along a latitudinal gradient.
(Right) Per capita income across latitude is inversely correlated with the burden of VBPDs 

 

 

From the 27 December 2012 article at Science Daily

 A new study, published Dec. 27 in the open access journal PLOS Biology, finds that vector-borne and parasitic diseases have substantial effects on economic development across the globe, and are major drivers of differences in income between tropical and temperate countries. The burden of these diseases is, in turn, determined by underlying ecological factors: it is predicted to rise as biodiversity falls. This has significant implications for the economics of health care policy in developing countries, and advances our understanding of how ecological conditions can affect economic growth.

According to conventional economic wisdom, the foundation of economic growth is in political and economic institutions. “This is largely Cold War Economics about how to allocate property rights — with the government or with the private sector,” says Dr Matthew Bonds, an economist at Harvard Medical School, and the lead author of the new study. However, Dr Bonds and colleagues were interested instead in biological processes that transcend such institutions, and which might form a more fundamental economic foundation…

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The results of the analysis suggest that infectious disease has as powerful an effect on a nation’s economic health as governance, say the authors. “The main asset of the poor is their own labor,” says Dr Bonds. “Infectious diseases, which are regulated by the environment, systematically steal human resources. Economically speaking, the effect is similar to that of crime or government corruption on undermining economic growth.”

This result has important significance for international aid organizations, as it suggests that money spent on combating disease would also stimulate economic growth….

Read the entire article here

December 29, 2012 Posted by | environmental health | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Tropical Diseases: The New Plague of Poverty

 

Cover of "The Other America:  Poverty in ...

Cover via Amazon

 

From the 18th August 2012 article at the New York Times

 

IN the United States, 2.8 million children are living in households with incomes of less than $2 per person per day, a benchmark more often applied to developing countries. An additional 20 million Americans live in extreme poverty. In the Gulf Coast states of Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama, poverty rates are near 20 percent. In some of the poorer counties of Texas, where I live, rates often approach 30 percent. In these places, the Gini coefficient, a measure of inequality, ranks as high as in some sub-Saharan African countries.

Poverty takes many tolls, but in the United States, one of the most tragic has been its tight link with a group of infections known as the neglected tropical diseases, which we ordinarily think of as confined to developing countries.

Most troubling of all, they can even increase the levels of poverty in these areas by slowing the growth and intellectual development of children and impeding productivity in the work force. They are the forgotten diseases of forgotten people, and Texas is emerging as an epicenter.

A key impediment to eliminating neglected tropical diseases in the United States is that they frequently go unrecognized because the disenfranchised people they afflict do not or cannot seek out health care.

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While immigration is sometimes blamed for introducing neglected tropical diseases into the United States, the real issue is that they are now, to varying degrees, also being transmitted within our borders. Without new interventions, they are here to stay and destined to trap people in poverty for decades to come. Fifty years ago, Michael Harrington’s book “The Other America: Poverty in the United States” became a national best seller. Today more people than ever before live in poverty in this country. We must now turn our attention to the diseases of this Other America.

 

While immigration is sometimes blamed for introducing neglected tropical diseases into the United States, the real issue is that they are now, to varying degrees, also being transmitted within our borders. Without new interventions, they are here to stay and destined to trap people in poverty for decades to come. Fifty years ago, Michael Harrington’s book “The Other America: Poverty in the United States” became a national best seller. Today more people than ever before live in poverty in this country. We must now turn our attention to the diseases of this Other America.

 

 

 

 

September 6, 2012 Posted by | environmental health, Public Health | , , | Leave a comment

   

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