Advancing

Health and disease in developing countries

Millions of people in developing countries die every year of conditions that are easily treatable elsewhere. They die not only because of lack of medicines and health care but also because many are so undernourished that relatively mild complaints become killers.

The most lethal diseases are AIDS, tuberculosis, pneumonia, diarrhoea and malaria. The most vulnerable to many of these are children under five years old.

Also deadly are perinatal conditions that affect children in the period from just before to soon after birth. These conditions include low birth weight, birth asphyxia and birth trauma.

But disease not only kills. It can also debilitate people for life and make it harder for them to work. This perpetuates a vicious cycle that pushes them and their families further down the poverty ladder, making them even more susceptible to illness.

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