Inequality in wealthy states rises, diseases decline: WHO

January 16, 2012

Social inequality in wealthy nations is increasing while in parts of the developing world many diseases are on the wane, Margaret Chan, head of the World Health Organization said Monday.

"In some wealthy countries, the difference in the quality of life between the older generation and todays youth is the greatest ever recorded," said the WHO director general, speaking at the opening of the body's board meeting.

"Last year was a time when many countries realised they were losing their middle classes, the very foundation of democracy and economic productivity," she said, urging that a commitment to public health must be sustained.

In a text version of her speech Chan cited a recent Organization for and Development report showing in wealthy nations has reached the worst levels in nearly 25 years.

"That report further concluded that societies with the least inequality had the best , regardless of the levels of spending on health," Chan said, noting, "money alone does not buy better health."

She stated: "Those who suffer or who benefit least deserve help from those who benefit most," but this is not what happened last year, particularly in well-off nations, according to numerous reports.

In large parts of the vast inequalities in access to health care also exist, she explained.

"But misery, for many groups, for many diseases, is actually going down. Those who benefit least are getting help from those who benefit most," said Chan.

She noted that in the first decade of the 21st century, HIV/AIDS and tuberculosis epidemics peaked, beginning a slow decline along with a turn around in a deteriorating malaria situation.

"Young dropped below 10 million for the first time in nearly six decades. Compared with 12 million under-five deaths in 1990, the figure for 2010 was 7.6 million, a drop of more than 40 percent."

Chan said that in sub-Saharan Africa the fall in the under-five mortality rate was accelerating at double the rate it had shown between 1990 and 2000.

Maternal deaths worldwide, "the starkest statistic in public health," have also begun to fall, she said.

In addition, "In 2009 alone, an estimated 800 million people received preventive chemotherapy for at least one of the neglected tropical diseases."

Explore further: WHO head worries about bird flu pandemic

Related Stories

WHO: Nearly 1 in 5 babies still missed by vaccines

October 21, 2009

(AP) -- A record 106 million infants were vaccinated last year against life-threatening diseases, but nearly 1 in 5 babies still aren't fully protected, global health authorities reported Wednesday.

Gates makes $10 billion vaccines pledge

January 29, 2010

(AP) -- The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation will donate $10 billion over the next decade to research new vaccines and bring them to the world's poorest countries, the Microsoft co-founder and his wife said Friday.

WHO cuts global estimate for maternal deaths

September 15, 2010

(AP) -- The World Health Organization said Wednesday that fewer women die each year from complications during pregnancy and childbirth than previously estimated, but efforts to sharply cut maternal mortality by 2015 are ...

WHO links child mortality to economic crisis

November 26, 2011

The World Health Organisation warned on Saturday that only a stronger political commitment to child health could prevent a dangerous rise in mortality rates at a time of global economic turmoil.

655,000 malaria deaths in 2010: WHO

December 13, 2011

Malaria caused the death of an estimated 655,000 people last year, with 86 percent of victims children aged under five, World Health Organisation figures showed on Tuesday.

Recommended for you

Bacteria in smokeless tobacco products may be a health concern

August 26, 2016

Several species of bacteria found in smokeless tobacco products have been associated with opportunistic infections, according to a paper published August 26 in Applied and Environmental Microbiology, a journal of the American ...

Is tailgating toxic?

August 26, 2016

While tailgating this football season you may want to take a step back from the grill and generator—for your health.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.