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Economy and health: The poorer the weaker 1

The relationship of the economy to health are multiple documented. Poverty creates the illness, while wealth protects and promotes health. Globally, there is a clear correlation between the economy of each country and the health of its population. Up to 2/3 of the differences in health indicators across populations due to financial reasons.



The increase in income leads to better health as it provides the opportunity for better housing, for safer and healthier environment, adequate nutrition, and many other social and physical factors associated with health. Higher incomes also mean more resources for prevention, care and other social services.


On the other hand, the health affects income. A healthy population is more productive. In the US it was estimated that 8.3% of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) is wealth produced by reducing mortality from 1940 onwards. In M. Britain, moreover, the main argument for the creation of the National Health System and free care from 50 years ago was that a healthier population will be more productive and contribute to economic growth. The relationship of health to the economy is of particular importance because of the presence of serious economic inequalities between countries.


GDP growth of industrialized countries is largely the result of the exploitation of the poorest countries. In 1999 more than 900 million people in the world living in absolute poverty. The impressive economic differences between countries embossed on existing differences in national income.




The GDP per capita in rich countries, according to the World Bank, more than 40 times that of poor countries, and in some cases this ratio reaches 1 part in 200. The last 10 years (1990-99) even The economic inequalities than doubled, showing accelerated growth trends. In 1998 the income of the 200 richest people of Earth exceeded the income of 2.5 billion poorest inhabitants.


The financial arrangements to cover 1.3 trillion. dollars, which is the Third World debt, many poor countries led to massive export of agricultural products and the subsequent reduction in feed efficiency, increased unemployment, reduced income, the deterioration of living conditions, the inadequate medical care, degraded education. The UNICEF, in 1989, gave to these economic policies responsible for 500 000 infant deaths, whereas in 1988 there was a net capital outflow of EUR 60 billion. Dollars from the poor to the rich countries. The bulk of this chapter represents the payment of interest on debts and loans, which only the small percentage has been exploited for the benefit of local populations.



In 1992 life expectancy in Japan was 78.6 years and the GDP per capita $ 19.400. At the same time, life expectancy in Afghanistan and in Guinea-Bissau was 43 years and the GDP per capita $ 700-750. The big difference is mainly due to the fact that countries with high economic growth have managed to significantly reduce infant mortality. It is found that with increasing GDP, the lower the infant and neonatal mortality averaged.


According to international estimates, 10% increase of GDP per capita will reduce infant mortality by 1.7%, neonatal by 2.0% and late infantile 6.4%. Overall, it has been estimated that the richest fifth of the world population live on average 22 years longer than the poorest fifth.


The relationship, however, between health and the economy is not univocal nor linear. The dominant economic argument that we can be healthy only in a healthy and rich economy not fully delivers the actual content of that relationship.



Neither continuous economic growth is in itself a guarantee for improving the level of health. Health is directly related to the wealth of a country as that country has not exceeded a certain level of economic development, that health economists calculate it around $ 5,000 GDP per capita. The limit of $ 5,000 per capita is usually characterized by the epidemiological transition from infectious disease morbidity morbidity of 'abundance' (cardiovascular, cancer, other chronic degenerative diseases).



Above this limit is observed weak correlation between GDP and health The weak correlation between GDP and health in wealthy countries due to the fact that the per capita GDP does not reflect all these social factors related to the structure of the economy, how the income or wealth generated by the economy of a country, especially how this wealth is distributed in the population.



The actual effect of the economy in shaping the health status of a population can be estimated correctly only through the prism of two key structures of each society: the organization of the economy and the form of social stratification in relation to production. For the richest countries, which have secured the necessary material resources, improvement of health depends primarily on the fair distribution of wealth and the existence of social cohesion.



The richer a country, the more you spend on health, ensuring adequate and effective health services. Restrictions on expenditure have negative effects not only on the adequacy of health services, but also in access to care, freedom of choice, ie everything you are qualitative elements of care.



By 1980, the question of what percentage of GDP should be spent on health unanimous answer would be 'the largest possible'. However, since 1980, Western European countries have fixed the percentage of GDP spent on health between 7 and 10%. This is true both for national health systems, and for those who rely on insurance. By contrast, the Eastern European countries want to increase the relative proportion, which in recent years is low (from 2-4%). In Greece, according to OECD data, the percentage of GDP spent on health in 2002 was 9.3% (5.1% of public expenditure and 4.2% private).



But while below a certain level of health spending have a positive effect on life expectancy, the opposite is not true. Health is not continuing to improve when health costs continue to rise above a certain level. Applies something similar, that is, what happens to the effect of GDP in life expectancy in rich countries.


For the same reason, while life expectancy converges in the member states of the OECD countries spend more may have worse results. The US example, where spent on health about 15% of GDP reinforces this finding, as some European countries have infant mortality by 30-40% lower than in the United States.

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