LiveMint : Thoughtful and well-written viewpoint by Anirudh Krishna
"Even moderately well-to-do people have become persistently poor.This is unfortunate, especially when we consider that the majority of these descents into poverty could have been prevented. Very little is being done, however, to address the problem of poverty creation."
"Restricting the flow of people into poverty requires investing in better – more affordable, accessible, and higher quality – healthcare. Becoming richer as a nation will not automatically resolve this problem."
It starts with healthcare A vast and growing body of work has started to show how the source of a great deal of poverty is inadequate healthcare. Several other factors are also associated with falling into poverty, but in terms of frequency and magnitude the effects of ill health and medical expenses predominate. Illhealth imposes a double burden on households – when high treatment costs go together with loss of earning power – and it has the biggest influence on becoming and remaining poor. Researchers who have studied these trends in different countries describe how, because of poverty neglect, a “medical poverty trap” is becoming ever more pervasive (see Whitehead, et al. 2001; Xu, et al. 2003; Zhao 2006). Millions of families are living only one illness away from poverty, and thousands more have become deeply indebted on account of burdensome healthcare costs. 60% of all families who fell into poverty in the Rajasthan communities we studied, 74% in Andhra Pradesh, and 88% in Gujarat experienced one or more catastrophic health episodes. Calculations by other researchers show how a stupendous number – amounting to 3.7% of the Indian population – is at risk of falling below the dollar-a-day threshold every year on account of healthcare expenses (EQUITAP 2005; Garg and Karan 2005).
Via Christopher Ward, Mark Chataway