In low-income countries, millions of people are plagued by diseases that could easily be obviated. Vaccines and poverty prevention go hand in hand. These are five ways that providing vaccines can prevent and reduce poverty.
Opportunities for Education and Employment
Access to vaccinations provides health benefits for the less fortunate and puts them in a better position to go to school or work. When children are started on a vaccination schedule early on, they are more likely to remain in good health and be able to attend school.
Unvaccinated children can contract diseases such as measles, mumps or pertussis (whooping cough), all of which can be fatal and passed on to other non-vaccinated children or adults, creating a pattern of sick communities who become paralyzed by their conditions and healthcare costs.
When children have the chance to attend school and receive a proper education, they are more likely to grow into healthy adults who then have the opportunity to attend college or find jobs. Vaccinated adults have the same freedoms as vaccinated children. A vaccinated adult will not have to worry about contracting or suffering from the debilitating diseases that can be prevented by vaccines.
When a country has healthy, thriving families, it can have a great impact on not only the economic status of the family but the whole economy. When members of a family have access to vaccines, it reduces their healthcare costs. Hospital and doctor visits are expensive, and doctors are scarce in many impoverished areas.
Primarily, when a family has access to vaccinations that make them healthier, the family has more opportunities to work, providing them with more income to spend on food, clothes and other essentials while allowing them to save any extra income they may have. When a person is vaccinated, they have a higher chance at a longer life, granting them more time to work and provide. This is a great example of how vaccines and poverty prevention work together.
Caring for Expectant Mothers
For families of poorer areas in countries such as the Philippines, young working mothers need to stay healthy to help provide for and protect their children. One of the greatest vaccinations a pregnant woman may receive in the Philippines is the MNT vaccination, which helps prevent maternal and neonatal tetanus. Neonatal tetanus is seen in unborn children when the mother is not immune or has not been protected from the bacteria that causes MNT.
According to UNICEF, MNT is one of the top killers during and after childbirth and occurs when the mother delivers in an unsanitary environment or from an infection at the site of the cut umbilical cord. Dr. Mariella Castillo, a UNICEF Philippines Maternal and Child Specialist, says that MNT can be eradicated with the proper immunizations and cleaner birthing environments. Saving as many newborns as possible is imperative and is much easier when the mother has access to life-saving immunizations.
Job Opportunities in the Medical Field
With better healthcare comes a higher need for nurses and doctors. In countries such as Bangladesh and Ethiopia, where disease can run rampant, it is necessary to have healthcare workers who are educated, healthy and vaccinated. The relationship between vaccines and poverty prevention can be taught to healthcare workers. This provides an outlet for those interested in scientific research to learn how vaccines work, creating a universal network of healthcare workers and scientists.
Nurses International aids in educating students overseas who wish to help their community by learning about the healthcare industry and the benefits of health education. They do this via free online education, bringing lessons to Africa, Asia and other areas where there is a high need for educated healthcare workers. This results in more job opportunities and growth in areas of the world that are lacking in healthcare resources.
Vaccines for Farm Animals Also Protect People
Vaccinations are not just limited to people. It is critical for pet owners and farmers to realize the need for vaccinations in pets and livestock. With healthier animals who are less likely to catch diseases such as rinderpest or bovine pleuropneumonia, there is a greater amount of food and milk available for farmers in rural or poor areas to sell. In 2017, Dr. Sarferaz Waziry of The World Bank took a trip to Afghanistan to supply vaccines to livestock and educate local farmers on diseases that can be passed from animals to humans.
It is a common belief that if an animal got sick, a human could not catch the disease, but this is not true. Farmers with unvaccinated or unhealthy animals are more likely to catch illnesses such as rabies, brucellosis and echinococcosis. Vaccines and poverty prevention will increase with better veterinary care and readily available vaccines, while animals and their caretakers are able to live longer, healthier lives.
In areas vulnerable to disease and sickness, vaccines can be a life changer in helping to build social and economic structures. There are many foundations that help provide vaccines, such as the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, which works to deliver vaccines in the countries that need them most, aiding in vaccines and poverty prevention.
– Rebecca Lee