Poverty and Health

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Response or Comment

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During this month, medical journals all over the world are reminding their readers of the relationship between poverty and human development. Poverty affects women disproportionately. Women are more likely to be poorer than men, and poverty has a greater effect on women’s health status the world over. Moreover, because many women are joint or even the sole providers for their families, a woman’s own poor health can jeopardize the economic well-being of her entire family.

To live in poverty often means to be deprived not only of the basic necessities of life, but also of the resources, choices, and power needed to achieve a basic standard of living and to exercise both social and political rights. Solutions are hard to come by. Two rays of light are provided by the United Nations Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and recent research on the benefits of breastfeeding—one of the few resources accessible to all women regardless of their socioeconomic status.