Poor health and poverty go hand in hand. Health is an important economic driver, and our work and the work of our partners is focused on ensuring that poor people, especially women and children, can live healthier lives and reach their full human potential.
In 2015, 5.9 million children under the age of five died. That is nearly 700 children every hour. More than half of these children died from a condition that could have been easily prevented or cured with simple affordable interventions.
Health and the Sustainable Development Goals
In 2015, Ireland helped to successfully broker the new Sustainable Development Goals, following the completion of the era of the Millennium Development Goals. While great progress was made in achieving health outcomes during the MDGs, a lot of work remains to do, and Ireland is committed to play our part in ensuring the success of the SDGs.
SDG 3 aims specifically to “ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages,” but health is a central aspect of achieving many other of the SDGs, including those related to poverty, hunger, inequality and economic growth.
In order to achieve these goals, our work in Global Health and HIV/AIDS focuses on:
- Building stronger health systems, supporting immunisation and prioritising human resources for health;
- Supporting the development of products to prevent and treat diseases of poverty ;
- Building capacity and fostering collaboration on global health and HIV and AIDS between Ireland and partner countries;
- Mobilisation of Irish domestic partnerships to address Global Health issues;
- Improved effectiveness and efficiency of the Global Fund to fight AIDS, TB and Malaria;
- Contribution towards reduced vulnerability and empowerment of women in the fight against HIV and AIDS, with a focus on prevention.
Progress made, but challenges remain
Significant progress has been made on many health outcomes over the past years and throughout the period of the MDGs, including:
- Globally, the number of deaths of children under 5 fell from 12.7 million in 1990 to 6.3 million in 2013;
- In developing countries, the percentage of underweight children under 5 dropped from 28% in 1990 to 17% in 2013;
- Globally, new HIV infections declined by 38% between 2001 and 2013;
- There have been major advances in prevention, diagnosis and treatment of TB: mortality has fallen by 47% since 1990. Effective diagnosis and treatment of TB has saved an estimated 43 million lives between 2000 and 2014;
- There has been a 60% decrease in global malaria mortality rates between 2000 and 2015.
However despite this progress, making better health a reality for every person in the world remains a challenge, and it is vital that we don’t lose focus in our work. Some of the biggest challenges that face us in our mission to realise health as a fundamental human right include:
- In 2015, 1.1 million people died from HIV-related causes globally, with more than a third of these deaths due to people being infected with both HIV and Tuberculosis
- Although by mid-2016 more than 18 million men and women living with HIV were now getting vital medicines to keep them healthy, another 18 million are still not being given treatment.
- There were 212 million cases of malaria worldwide in 2015, and 10.4 million people fell ill with Tuberculosis
- The AIDS epidemic has had a disproportionate impact on women in the developing world. This has been exacerbated by their often difficult status within society, the lack of possibilities to negotiate safe sex, and gender-based violence against women.
- Around the world, every day about 830 women die from preventable causes related to pregnancy or childbirth. 99% of these deaths happen in the developing world.
Poverty and poor health go hand in hand
Why is a child born in sub-Saharan Africa 14 times more likely to die before the age of five than a child from a developed country?
“The biggest enemy of health in the developing world is poverty.” - Former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan
Poverty is both a cause and effect of poor health, and improvements in health have been shown to lead to economic gains. People living in poverty often cannot access healthcare, while the costs of healthcare can drive people further into poverty. Building strong and resilient health systems and ensuring that poor and marginalised people have access to quality basic healthcare is one of our priority areas of action.
- Poverty causes hunger and under-nutrition, leaving poor men and women more vulnerable to disease.
- Poverty affects our ability to access healthcare or to afford medicine,
- People living in poverty bear the highest burden of sickness and have the least access to healthcare.
- Poor health can push people even deeper into poverty. For example, children who are sick may lose out on their education and their chances in life.