For its part, development can break the perfect circle of feedback between poverty and ill health. Economic growth makes it possible to have more resources to finance the improvement of ENVIRONMENTAL health, public health campaigns, and, above all, the establishment of a health system whose health services also cover the most vulnerable sectors, for example, by extending PRIMARY HEALTH CARE. Also, social development programs, such as education and literacy programs, have been instrumental in raising the level of health by facilitating improvements in nutrition, hygiene, and REPRODUCTIVE HEALTH. Socioeconomic development, particularly if it equitably reaches the population (although this is not usually the case), also allows improvements in housing conditions and other essential services.
Investments in health are justified not only because this is an essential element of well-being, but also because of purely economic arguments. Good health contributes to economic growth in four ways: it reduces workers’ production losses due to illness; allows the use of natural resources that, due to diseases, can be entirely or partially inaccessible and unexploited; increases the schooling of children and allows them a good learning, and frees for different uses those resources that otherwise would be necessary to allocate to the treatment of diseases.
The Impact Of Development Policies On Health
It is important to recognize that many development policies designed to improve the quality of life and economic conditions of communities can have unexpected health effects. Although development projects are currently paying more attention to their impact on health (for example, based on the objectives of HUMAN DEVELOPMENT and SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT)), other projects and policies continue to threaten health.
Uncontrolled urbanization and industrialization expose the population to new risks: work accidents; exposure to toxic substances; contaminated rivers; radiation; air pollution by transport and by industry; industrial noise, etc. Agricultural programs that at the macro level can help countries to feed locally can have harmful effects for the health of workers and residents in the area, such as those derived from the chemical pollution of fertilizers and pesticides (see GREEN REVOLUTION).They can also increase exposure to diseases such as malaria or sadomasochist, which is sometimes favored by poorly controlled irrigation practices. In short, these phenomena that are usually part of the development processes can lead to changes in the epidemiological profiles, that is, in the types of diseases that the population suffers.