Poverty and health
Mike Rowson gives the facts and figures about poverty and health and suggests what health professionals should be doing about it
Poverty is the number one killer in the world today, outranking smoking as the leading cause of death.1 This is hardly surprising given the number of people in the world who survive on meagre incomes, often in appalling conditions. This article briefly surveys several areas, including definitions of poverty and the numbers of people who are poor; the causes of poverty; the links from poverty to ill health; and what can be done to tackle poverty both inside and outside the health sector.
Poverty is often defined in terms of a person's income or the amount of goods they are able to consume. For example, the World Bank has set the international poverty line at an expenditure level of $1 for every person a day.2 This figure represents the minimal amount on which a person can fulfil his or her physical needs, and a person is considered to be living