Disease and Poverty and Diseases the Third Essay

Excerpt from Essay :

Disease and Poverty

Poverty and diseases

The third world countries are much known for the negative aspects and the perpetuating of the same. One of the negative news that is heard of from the third world all the time is the problem of diseases that plague the country. It is a problem that has been observed to affect a vast population within the poor countries and especially among the poor sector of the population. There has therefore bee the debate whether these people are plagued by diseases because they are poor, or is it that they remain poor because they are plagued by diseases.

The paper seeks to divulge the information on the third world countries, Kenya as the study sample. The research seeks to indicate the economy of the country and the rate of diseases that are found within therein, and the demography of the diseases, hence trying to find out if there is a relationship between diseases and poverty and which one causes the other or if both are mutually related.


Kenya is a country situated in the Eastern region of the African continent in the global map covering an estimated area of about 580,367 square kilometers. It borders Somali, Tanzania, Uganda, Ethiopia and Sudan. It is a multiethnic state which comprises of different communities living in different regions of the country categorized as the Bantu people, Nilotic people and the Cushitic people with a total estimated population of about 41 million inhabitants as of the July, 2011 population census.

The growth rate has been on a decreasing trend down from 3% to about 2.7% annually. The major contributing factors to this trend being high infant mortality rate, low life expectancy of 53 years due to HIV / AIDS prevalence affecting 6.1% of its population between ages 15-49 years and nutritional factors since a high percentage of the country's population are languishing in poverty with majority of the population living in the rural areas.

Of its 19% urban population a large majority live in informal settlements. According to the UN estimates the number of children per woman has decreased significantly from the estimated 8 children to about 5 children after sensitizing women on the usage of family planning methods, the estimated number of women using contraceptives is at 39%. The population has however grown significantly and doubled over the years and at the projected 2.7% the population by 2050 is expected to be about 65 million people (Unicef, 2012).

Common diseases in Kenya

According to Index Mundi (2012a), there are various diseases that are predominant in Kenya and are known to be infectious yet some are seasonal. Some of the most common diseases in Kenya are HIV / AIDS, Hepatitis A, Hepatitis E, Typhoid fever, Malaria, Dengue fever, Yellow fever, African Trypanosomiasis, Cutaneous Leishmaniasis, Plague, Rift Valley fever, Meningococcal meningitis, Rabies, schistosomiasis and bacterial and protozoal diarrhea. Some of these diseases are hard to eradicate and require a lot of funding to completely do away with them, yet some are spread from person to another like HIV and needs education, sensitization and prevention measures.

The economy of Kenya

The real GDP rate in Kenya is 4.3% as of 2011. The growth rate from the year 1990 was on a downward trend up from 4.135% to a low of -0.1% owing to the political climate between the periods of 1992- 1993. The economy stabilized afterwards and went down again during the 2002 elections that brought about change in leadership with a new president being elected.

The peaceful transitions of power, from one regime to another saw the economy improve to a record high of 6.99% in 2007, the economy became vibrant and conducive for doing business thereby attracting more investors. The year 2008 was after the disputed December 2007 poll results that triggered violence that almost brought the country to its knees. The economy struggled afterwards faced with other factors such as the global financial crisis, the GDP come down to a low of 1.53%.

The economy was revived in 2009 and 2010 as the growth rate drastically rose to 5.55% after the political temperatures came down and the government found a working formula to solve the crisis by forming a coalition government. In 2011, the rate came down to 4.3% due to a high rate of inflation and the dwindling local currency against the hard currencies as a result of the high cost of importing oil among other commodities that affected the purchasing power of the people (Index Mundi, 2012b).

This is a general estimate of a country's standard of living, an estimated number of goods produced per person. It is therefore the total number of goods produced in a country divided by the number of its total population. Kenya's GDP Per capita is 1600 dollars as of January 2012.

Relationship between poverty and diseases

There is always a thin line between the argument that poverty could be the cause of diseases, or if it could be that diseases could be the ones causing a people to be poor. One generally acceptable fact however is that poor people tend to suffer from a lot of diseases and health complications as compared to the people who live in riches and better lifestyles.

Poverty and poor health

According to Shelley Phipps (2003) there was a strong relationship that was established in Canada between an adult's income and the health of that adult. When looking at the socio-economic status (SES) of the individuals, there is little doubt left that poverty has the higher likelihood of leading to poor health. When the SES is gauged among the Kenyan people that include the current income, change in the income levels, current earnings, poverty flags, the relative position in the income distribution and multi-period average incomes against the health status which is measured by looking at mortality rate, chronic conditions, subjective self reports, emotional stability, physical functioning and general life satisfaction, it has always been concluded that the levels of income are significantly related to the health outcomes. Indeed there is a relationship between income and mortality and morbidity among the people of Kenya.

Shelly further puts into perspective researches that were conducted on trying to determine whether it could be that ill health could cause poverty. These are researches that were conducted under controlled conditions. This was attesting of what is referred to as reverse causation and it was found that this was not a serious threat to the society. Shelley indicates that from the researches it was that the trend flowed from poverty towards poor health rather than the opposite being the case.

It is also worth noting that the relationship between individual income and the health status of the individual is non-linear. This shows that low-income people or masses will be prone to larger negative health situations than their counterparts who are rich and these will benefit better health benefits and even cover.

From the various studies, Shelley also indicates that the measurement of long-term average income can be more accurately and largely associated with the health status of an individual the measurement of the income that the individual is earning at that particular time, this is based on the fact that the current earnings can be highly volatile.

There has also been an observation of the tendency of long-term poverty in a region being more of a cause of negative health as compared to episodic poverty. This is observed in Kibera slum which is the largest slum within Kenya and the East African region in general. It has been a slum since the country attained its independence and it has benne observed to be one of the areas that is highest hit by disease in all the urban regions within Kenya (Fountain of Hope, 2008).

It is also a fact that the negative shocks on the income levels affects more the health status of an individual as compared to the positive shocks. When one is subjected to an income level that is lower than the income he is used to, he is likely to be affected in health and psychologically as compared to if the person gets an increase in the salary levels. Apparently this is true of Kenyan situation as well, many people who lose their well paying jobs will shun going back to the country homes due to the poverty levels and consequently move to the slum areas with the hope that things will look up some day and they get a better job. This then becomes their undoing as they are also fully immersed into the cycle of diseases that are in the poor slum areas.

The relationship between poverty and poor health in Kenya is also portrayed by the infant mortality rates and the maternal survival rates that are exhibited in the country. According to the minister of health in Kenya, in the year 2008/2009 the infant mortality rate was pegged at 52 deaths for every 1,000 live births and for the children under five…

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