Poverty could be considered a childhood disease. It hurts the futures and the health of children. In fact, poverty can lead to a family struggling not only to keep a roof over their children’s heads, but it can also keep families from affording high quality groceries each week, or affording prescriptions. Indeed, poverty can lead to families buying cheap fast food for their children, instead of the fruits and vegetables that children need. These issues can lead to children having many types of medical issues, including malnutrition, and those children do not have access to proper healthcare. This can be found not only in the United States, but all across the globe. Briefly, this article will discuss how poverty can negatively impact the health of children and their futures, and why children’s health should be one of the key issues in the developing world.
One of the major issues of poverty is that often, those who are born into poverty will remain in poverty. This is due to a variety of reasons, but the main point to focus on is the environment the children are brought into. Part of the reason children born into poverty stay in poverty is the health of children, or rather, the unhealthiness of children in poverty. If children are sickly during the first few years of life, they are less likely to survive, and even if they do, they are more likely to continue being sick throughout their lives. The reason this occurs is due to the lack of funds of a family, so children do not have access to nutritional food or clean water. This is why poverty could be considered a disease – it certainly leads to health problems, at least.
At an annual meeting of the Pediatric Academic Societies, they called for pediatricians to address childhood poverty in a macro sense, as a national (and global) problem, rather than analyzing it on a case-by-case basis. Poverty in children causes those children to be less likely to achieve academic success, have a language deficit within the home, and higher dropout rates. Moreover, poorer homes are more likely to have health problems, which can range from obesity to diabetes to heart disease. Poverty also affects the health of children because it makes them more likely to turn to substance abuse, or have a mental illness. There are many other negative consequences of poverty for children, but they all lead to a cycle of continued poverty.
Children need to be the focus of global efforts to reduce poverty and other health issues. In developing countries, around 600 million children live in extreme poverty, or live on less than $1 each day. Plus, a person dies of starvation every 3.6 seconds. Most of the time, the person dying is a child that is under the age of 5. If these children dying of starvation, or other health issues, can be helped, then they would be less likely to remain in poverty, which would help reverse poverty rates in the next generation because they would be healthier. Therefore, the health of children should be a primary concern to the global population, not only because children are the future, but because poverty starts with children, and the best way to stop it is to start at the source.
– Corina Balsamo
Sources: NY Times, UNICEF, American Progress