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  • Majd Malaeb

Poverty: The impact of poverty on the current and future health status of children

Child poverty in Canada is a significant public health concern. Because child development during the early years lays the foundation for later health and development, children must be given the best possible start in life. Family income is a key determinant of healthy child development. Children in families with greater material resources enjoy more secure living conditions and greater access to a range of opportunities that are often unavailable to children from low-income families.

On average, children living in low-income families or neighbourhoods have poorer health outcomes. Furthermore, poverty affects children’s health not only when they are young, but also later in their lives as adults. The health sector should provide services to mitigate the health effects of poverty and articulate the health-related significance of child poverty, in collaboration with other sectors to advance healthy public policy.

Poverty: Around the World

World poverty is a disaster. Billions of people around the world live in extreme poverty. Nearly 10 percent of the world's population. That's almost 1 billion people living below the World Bank poverty line of $1.90 per day. And almost half the world (nearly 4 billion people) lives with a household income below $2.50 a day. The extremely poor live without support, on the sidelines, watching economic growth and prosperity pass them by.

They are shunned by the world economy. They live lives abundant in scarcity. Without enough food, access to clean water, or proper sanitation. Without access to safe shelter, health care, or education. Even the environment attacks poor people. When nature strikes, the world's poor suffer the most.

More than 1.35 million people have been killed by earthquakes, hurricanes and typhoons, tsunamis, etc. over the past 20 years. The world's poorest countries bore the brunt of the devastation. In 2004, the Indian Ocean tsunami killed 230,000 people. All of them were in poor countries and middle-income countries, such as Indonesia, Sri Lanka, Thailand, and India. In 2011, a similar magnitude earthquake spawned a tsunami that struck high-income Japan, and its waves were 30 feet taller. Nineteen thousand people died.

Poverty was the difference in the death toll. The 7.0 magnitude earthquake that struck Haiti in January 2010 killed 223,000 people. Equally forceful earthquakes hit Chile and New Zealand later that same year. Five hundred people died in Chile. No deaths occurred in New Zealand. Poverty caused the difference!

5 Tools to End Poverty

1. Quality education

Access to quality education provides children with the knowledge and life skills they need to realize their full potential. It’s also essential to creating change in a child’s life. Plan International helps by training teachers, building new schools and breaking down barriers that prevent many children, and girls in particular from attending school and staying in school.

2. Access to health is essential

Plan International helps communities build health clinics, train health care workers and invest in equipment and medicine, so children can grow up healthy and strong.

3. Water & sanitation

Water and sanitation are also essential for every child’s survival. Each year, Plan International helps communities build school latrines, community water points and helps to establish organizations to ensure the continued management and maintenance of water points.

4. Economic security

Economic security means people have the skills and resilience they need to withstand hard economic times and grow their incomes. Plan International works to overcome poverty by helping communities around the world gain the economic security they need to thrive, this includes training people living in poverty to acquire the skills and knowledge they need to secure a livelihood and support their families.

5. Child participation

Child participation means that children are at the center of everything we do. Plan International helps children learn their rights and take active roles within their community. Child participation helps children engage in citizenship, express their views and make decisions that will shape their future and influence the people around them.


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