Health and development

Poverty and health

Beggar in India
WHO/Virot
Delhi, India

Approximately 1.2 billion people in the world live in extreme poverty (less than one dollar per day). Poverty creates ill-health because it forces people to live in environments that make them sick, without decent shelter, clean water or adequate sanitation.

WHO supports countries to design and implement 'pro-poor' health policies, that is, health policies which prioritize and respond to the needs of poor people. This work includes global advocacy, regional initiatives and direct support to ministries of health in developing countries.

At global level, this experience is synthesized to form recommendations on best practice. Health and poverty issues differ markedly from country to country contexts, with countries emerging from and affected by conflicts presenting a particular challenge.

WHO ensures that the health perspective is reflected in poverty reduction strategies, medium term expenditure frameworks, and helps to develop sector-wide approaches.

WHO database on health in Poverty Reduction Strategy Papers

This database provides an analysis of the health component of each country’s PRSP from a health perspective. It also summarizes what PRSPs say about the health challenges in a particular country, the proposed health strategies to meet those challenges, and the mechanism to monitor progress.

All documents related to poverty and health are available under publications.

"The biggest enemy of health in the developing world is poverty."

Kofi Annan

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