The Consequences of Population Health for Economic Performance
This chapter goes beyond the traditional economic thinking about the relationship between health and income – simply stated: wealth is needed to achieve health – by presenting evidence that population health is an important factor in strengthening economies and reducing poverty. The world's overarching framework for reducing poverty is expressed in the UN's eight Millennium Development Goals. Three of these eight goals pertain to health: reducing child mortality, improving maternal health, and combating HIV/AIDS, malaria, and other diseases. These potentially huge improvements in health are extremely important goals in themselves, and they serve as beacons toward which numerous development efforts are oriented. But these potential improvements in health are not only endpoints that we seek through a variety of means. The improvements are actually instruments for achieving economic growth and poverty reduction. That is, better health does not have to wait for an improved economy; measures to reduce the burden of disease, to give children healthy childhoods, to increase life expectancy will in themselves contribute to creating healthier economies.
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