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The Link between poverty and health: Implications for nursing

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  1. Introduction
  2. Significance and the vicious cycle
  3. Significance of World Health Organization
  4. The process of concept analysis and specific goals
  5. Definitions of poverty and public health
  6. Related concepts
    1. Health insurance
    2. Racial prejudice
    3. Diversity
    4. Education
    5. Impact of poverty on childhood
  7. Analysis, defining characteristics and consequences
  8. Two brief case studies
  9. Conclusion
  10. Bibliography

The World Bank estimates that there are around 1.5 billion extremely poor people in the world. Poverty has many dimensions. It is defined by the International Council of Nurses as" a condition that extends beyond lack of income and goes hand in hand with lack of power, humiliation and a sense of exclusion. Defining it solely from the income level or as an inability to acquire basic food and shelter, limits our ability to understand its true nature and make effective interventions" (ICN, 2004, p. 5). Approximately 24,000 people worldwide, mostly children, die from hunger daily. Fifty percent of the world's populations lives on less than $ 2 a day and 54 countries are poorer today than they were in 1990. At the same time, by international standards, the United States has the highest rate of child poverty, with over 26 million children (U.S. Census Bureau, 2000).

For those living in poverty the impact reaches far beyond income and financial matters. Poverty is a disease that drains people's energy and dehumanizes them, creating a feeling of helplessness and loss of control. Illiteracy, ill health, malnourishment, environmental risks, and lack of choices contribute to the perpetual cycle of poverty and ill health. Without health, a person's chance to escape from poverty is diminished because of lost time, work, and income and the added burden of health care costs.

[...] The World Bank's Dying for Change report (2002) was produced to highlight the relationship between poverty and poor health from the perspective of the poor. The views of around 60,000 poor people were recorded giving an indication of the types of problem that people living with poverty face in trying to gain access to health care. Problems cited in Dying for Change included: low quality of service staff shortages and absenteeism lack of medicines and equipment difficulties in obtaining and understanding documentation lack of basic necessities cost of treatment Reviews of health services continually show that the relationship between health care providers and their clients greatly affects how service users feel about the facilities they use. [...]


[...] These concepts may be deceptively simple ideas before they are subjected to close analysis. The link between poverty and poor health initially seems obvious, but the underlying complexity of the connection illustrates how daunting breaking the cycle is. Efforts to ameliorate the health of the poor obviously must address a multitude of issues. This includes exploring how nurses may assist impoverished people to improve their health. By delineating the connection between poverty and public health, we might be able to conceive an effective plan that at least begins to address the problem. [...]


[...] Journal of Health Care for the Poor and Underserved, 377 383. Burridge, and Ormandy, D. (eds) (1993) Unhealthy housing: research, remedies and reform. E and FN, Spon. Carillo, J. E., Green, A.R., Betancourt, J.R. (1999). Cross Cultural Primary Care: A Patient Based Approach. Annals of Internal Medicine, 130: 829 834. Campinha-Bacote, J. (2002). Readings & resources in transcultural health care and mental health. Monograph of the Clinical, Administrative, Research & Educational Consultation in Transcultural Health Care, (13th Ed.). Cincinnati: OH Campinha-Bacote, J. [...]

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