(Australian Associated Press)
Fighting poverty is the key to improving global health, says Dr Jack Chow, the former assistant director general of the World Health Organisation.
And for Australia the fight begins at home, Chow said while in Adelaide on Tuesday to discuss global health issues and their impact on the country.
“The challenge of global health is nested with our drive to fight poverty,” he told the Committee for Economic Development in Australia (CEDA).
The World Bank estimates two billion people live on an income of less than three dollars a day.
Dr Chow says the implications of this for health are simple.
“Many swaths of people can’t afford basic medicine. Mortality rates are sky high in Africa,” he said.
But the disparities between rich and poor mustn’t be seen as just an offshore agenda; there is poverty in Australia too.
Dr Chow says when we suppress disease and advance health among the disadvantaged, parents stay alive for their children and children are alive for their futures and entire nations are alive for their destinies.
He also said it’s imperative that our leaders stop looking at health as a “whitecoat” issue but a community one.
“That would be a fundamental mistake,” he said.
Poverty is growing in Australia with an estimated 2.5 million people or 13.9 per cent of all people living below the internationally accepted poverty line, according to the most recent data.
A report released by the Australian Council of Social Service in 2014 revealed more than 600,000 or 17 per cent of all children were living in poverty in Australia.