The Economic Benefits of Disease Control

Large parts of the world have not enjoyed the remarkable global progress in health conditions that have taken place over the past century. But today’s tools for improving health are so powerful and inexpensive that health conditions could be reasonably good even in poor countries if policymakers spent relatively little in the right places.

SAN FRANSISCO – Large parts of the world have not enjoyed the remarkable global progress in health conditions that have taken place over the past century. Indeed, millions of deaths in impoverished nations are avoidable with prevention and treatment options that the rich world already uses. 

This year, ten million children will die in low- and middle-income countries. If child death rates were the same as those in developed countries, this figure would be lower than one million. Conversely, if child death rates were those of rich countries just 100 years ago, the figure would be 30 million.

The key difference between now and then is not income but technical knowledge about the causes of disease, and interventions to prevent disease, or at least the most pernicious symptoms. Today’s tools for improving health are so powerful and inexpensive that health conditions could be reasonably good even in poor countries if policymakers spent even relatively little in the right places.

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