Many nations in the world have given priority to health promotion through investment in the major determinants of health. Their increased focus towards improving health outcomes reconfirms the new prominence to health promotion approaches adopted by these nations. Most third world countries are faced with poverty menace and this affects the health of individuals particularly people with low income. They face particular challenges in maintaining their health alongside becoming ill and dying at tender ages compared to their rich counterparts. Additionally, they have limited healthcare resources and are likely to succumb to myriad of illnesses as well as compromising their health status and jeopardizing access to medical care. The objective of this essay will be to highlight on the health issues caused by poverty and the strategies needed to change the situation of the poor people through empowerment in order to improve their living status and health. In addition, it will give examples of nations where the poor were inspired and empowered by their government and other Non- Governmental Organizations (NGOs) to rise above poverty and its health related issues.
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Poverty refers to a scenario where an individual or society lacks basic human needs because of the inability to afford them. These needs can be shelter, clothing, education, healthcare, nutrition, and clean water. It may also embody less income or few resources in comparison to both the current and immediate needs for an individual, community or society. It is exhibited by insecurity and state of deprivation. This essay explores and integrates the relative significance of healthcare issues as part and parcel of empowerment aimed at poverty reduction.
Effects of poverty on health
Many poor people in the world are prone to health related problems as their poverty denies them resources required to maintain their health and to access good health facilities. A poor individual can be described as being insufficiently educated, facing malnutrition or unable to cater for medical care. Empirical research demonstrates that global death occasioned by poverty totals to about 18 million annually. The most affected groups are children and women. Since 1990, 270 million people have died as a result of poverty related complications and the statistics seem to be skyrocketing yearly.
Child mortality is mainly contributed by poor health occasioned by malnutrition and long periods of hunger. Indeed, most individuals in the third world countries r currently under deadly threat of starvation due to lack of food security. This has also worsened their heal6th conditions at great length (WHO, 1986). In addition, every year approximately 1.20 billion people starve and over 11 million children under the year of five die because of poverty.
Poverty increases the risk of drug abuse and homelessness in many regions in the world. For instance, the number of street children worldwide is over 100 million and it keeps rising each year. Reports from Global Hunger Index indicate that Child malnutrition rate in South Asia is the highest in the world and that the number of undernourished children in India is ranked as the highest in the world (Poh-Lin, 2009).
Health promotion is a quite a wide concept used to refers to a process that takes care of people’s health in a variety of ways. Hence, it is imperative to note that health promotion covers much more than just lack of mental or physical illness. Through a rigorous health promotion campaign, the poor lot can be placed in a position whereby they can adequately have full control of their day-to-day status of health.
While health promotion is vital in improving the standards of living of any community, empowerment in the very health promotion is crucial if the process of reducing poverty is to be successful. Empowerment will enable poor people to not only fully manage issues affecting them but also take decisive actions especially on matters regarding their own state of health. When the latter is fully catered for, other important segments of the society such as those touching on politics or economics of any given community will also be addressed sufficiently. Additionally, a through empowerment policy on place will also reduce the risk of growth and prevalence of poverty since the affected populations will understand the mechanisms and strategies that they can adopt in championing for total economic independence (Griffith et al. , 2010).
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In any empowerment scenario, individuals are able to link their achievements in life with their efforts in achieving set goals to be used. In a nutshell, health promotion as a way of empowering the poor is one of the most vital tools that can be used to strengthen individual’s ability in better fighting the impacts of poverty. In this sense, the self confidence, well being and the security of poor relies greatly in the empowerment that is in assets and capabilities that they lack.
Empowerment is a process that ensures production of outcomes and actions that are desirable through developing capacities of a group or of individuals. Health Promotion and Empowerment offers a better chance and creates condition whereby poor individuals or groups can access assets build relationships with their actions to bring health outcomes that benefits them.
Additionally, it also organizes local capacity building, creates accountability, includes the poor in many development programs and allows them to participate, and provide means for them to access information. Although citizens may be operating below the poverty line, the fat that they are informed will enable them to make informed choices and decisions regarding their health (WHO, 1986).
Empowerment is important in a society as it gives individuals and especially the poor the capacity in terms of assets and capabilities to overcome challenges. Lack of empowerment to poor people denies them the ability to expand their assets and capabilities and therefore they fail to control, influence, and negotiate with institutions that affect their lives (Meili, 2010). Assets include things like savings, livestock, housing, land and so on. The poor can not expand their horizon of choices without some of these basic necessities. Poverty limits the physical and the financial position of the poor thereby denying them assets and leaving them to suffer severe constraints and vulnerability. Capabilities enable people to use their assets in different ways to increase their wellbeing. Human capabilities include production, education, and good health. Individuals also need to have social capabilities such as sense of identity, relations of trust, leadership, and social belonging. Moreover, they need to access information and participate in community or country politics line of the country. Poor people lack capacity to mobilize and organize ways of solving problems that are affecting their lives (Perez, 2009). They are not able to participate in local governance, obtain basic services or access resources and economic opportunities. However, poor people can be able to access and participate more fully in society and access additional resources when they link up or bridge with the private sectors, civil societies or organizations of the state. It is important to note that most institutions that make decisions and administer resources generally exclude the people from participating in activities that would improve their lives. Systematic reforms are therefore needed that will foster improvement in governance and change unequal institutional relations that reflects the culture of inequality.
Policy support at the grass root level touching on healthcare has been adopted by various governments and community based support groups in quite a number of countries (Carey & Braunack-Mayer, 2009). For instance, the public health system in America has created a health promotion program referred to as Medicaid that improves access to health care for the poor and the lowly paid population by financing their health and long-time care insurance. Health promotion and empowerment ensures that better living conditions which are conducive to health are created and that strategies that will make the poor achieve healthy lifestyles are advocated for. In order to achieve this, health institutions partner with other concerned bodies to invest in improving health infrastructure.
Increased level of poverty has been a major contributor of health challenges in many nations. Community and individual empowerment is important in ensuring that people have been given ability to control resources, their own health and access to information (Mudege & Ezeh, 2009). One of the important outcomes of empowerment is that communities that are living in abject poverty will be in a position to control healthcare initiatives that are directly targeted towards them and those that are equally vital as determinants of health. As such, resources should be mobilized in a manner that the poor are not empowered but also assisted in the long process of eradicating poverty. This implies that it gives them power that acts as a catalyst to health promotion action. The role of the healthcare activists should strongly stem from developing policies that are friendly to the poor as part and parcel of supporting various government initiatives towards poverty reduction through empowerment of individuals in their healthcare system.
Secondly, there is need for the government and the health care centers to ensure equity in health (Agyiri & Chinebuah, 2010). Distribution of resources and opportunities in a nation should be guided by peoples’ needs. According to WHO, equity in health is a paramount need to the poor and which cannot be done away with or underestimated at al costs In order to empower individuals and eradicate poverty, resources for health should be distributed fairly and justly so that every needy person has an equal opportunity to healthcare promotion better standards of living.
Example of poverty and empowerment in Pakistan
In Pakistan for example, poverty reduction and empowerment has been tackled through infrastructure and service provision. The inequality in this region before the close of 2005 was downsized by 31% more in rural than in urban areas. This inequality affected agricultural production owing to uneven access to useable water and land as well as the distribution of urban goods ad services (Adamson, 2010).
The impacts of these inequalities were serious such that even the education and employment sectors were affected and the women were discriminated against by being given hard jobs and paid low wages. However, the government together with the requisite NGO’s came up with a strategy that ensured that the poor were provided for, nonfarm rural employment was expanded, development projects were begun and strategies for increasing agricultural productivity was prioritized. In addition, poor farmers were mobilized and given capital and infrastructure was provided to enable them raise income. Improved income elevated their purchasing power and provided demand for more good and services thereby attracting investors.
In recap, health promotion and empowerment ensures that populations attain improved health and living standards. There is need for governments to prioritize healthcare standards as a viable tool for empowerment since it will ensure that important health issues are on the public agenda and that health concerns are being catered for. In addition, the needs of the poor in the society should be addressed at the policy level.
Adamson, D. 2010. Community empowerment: Identifying the barriers to “purposeful” citizen participation. Web.
Agyiri, A. & Chinebuah, E. 2010. Learning to live. Appropriate Technology. Web.
Carey, G. & Braunack-Mayer, A. 2009. Exploring the effects of government funding on community-based organizations: ‘top-down’ or ‘bottom-up’ approaches to health promotion? Web.
Griffith, D., et al. 2010. Community-Based Organizational Capacity Building as a Strategy to Reduce Racial Health Disparities. Web.
Meili, R.. 2010. In sickness and in wealth. Web.
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Mudege, N. & Ezeh, A. 2009. Gender, aging, poverty and health: Survival strategies of older men and women in Nairobi slums. Web.
Perez, E. 2009. E-Health: How to Make the Right Choice. Web.
Poh-Lin, Y. 2009. Understanding health, culture, and empowerment in a disability context. International. Web.
WHO. 1986. Ottawa Charter for Health Promotion. First International Conference on Health Promotion Ottawa, Web.