Health Disparities Linked with Economic Gaps

20 02 2010

This is a typical home in the slums of Guatemala

This is a typical style of home in the wealthy areas of Guatemala

Health disparities are almost directly correlated with economic disparities within a country and between countries.  It is very common for health disparities to exist within a country when there are extreme gaps in wealth.    For example, Guatemala is a country in Central America and is one of the poorest countries in Latin America.  The distribution of income remains highly unequal with more than half of the population below the national poverty line and just over 400,000 (3.2%) unemployed. The CIA World Fact Book considers 56.2% of the population of Guatemala to be living in poverty.  Therefore, in this country there is extreme wealth and extreme poverty.  The wealthy people of the population can afford medical care which can prevent and treat diseases.   They also have the education necessary to live healthy lives.  The poorer areas do not have the means to provide their families with sanitation let alone having access to medical care and good education.  The government runs a number of public elementary and secondary-level schools. These schools are free, though the cost of uniforms, books, supplies, and transportation makes them less accessible to the poorer segments of society and significant numbers of poor children do not attend school. Many middle and upper-class children go to private schools.  This education availability or lack thereof increases the economic gap even further.

Since these economic gaps make a significant impact on health disparities around the world today, there have been successful interventions to aid this problem.  One of these interventions is Microfinance which is a banking system which allows people in poorer areas to receive loans in order to sustain a business and allows people the opportunity to get out of poverty and provide their families an education, which leads to better health.  Certain areas in India and Africa are places where this banking system has been the most successful.

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3 responses

18 03 2010
rachelmoulton

I lived in Chimaltenango, Guatemala for a summer and these health disparities were very evident in the city. Most of the houses looked exactly like the first picture you have posted. We worked with a family that had no running water, no electricity, no bathroom. The dad was 24 and was the bishop of the ward. He had 4 little kids and the whole family lived in this one room. When he had to do interviews with members of the church, they would come to his house and his family would often wait outside in the rain. They were an amazing family and we were able to add on two rooms to his home which was my favorite project of the summer. Great post! 🙂

3 04 2010
vancer27

It really is all about access to education!

8 04 2010
jarenglade

i saw this a lot in Argentina when I was on my mission. crazy

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