Poverty contributes to poor health in diverse ways. First, it undermines access to medical services, exposing the poor to diseases and deteriorating health conditions. Money helps people access the best care and prevent illnesses. Furthermore, money availability allows patients to receive quality treatment, minimizing severe health conditions. In contrast, low-income families cannot afford preventive medical care and only visit hospitals when sick. Such is detrimental to a person’s health because the disease may have developed into an untreatable stage.
Second, poverty is associated with substance abuse and mental health problems including, stress, depression, and anxiety. For example, the inability to buy food, pay rent, and pay school fees causes depression and anxiety. Mental health has become a healthcare crisis as millions suffer psychologically without receiving the guidance and treatment required. Although multiple factors cause mental health problem, poverty or financial challenges is among the primary causes.
Third, individuals living in impoverished neighborhoods are prone to violence, including fights, stabbing, mugging, and armed robberies. Stabbings, physical fights, and gun violence leave victims with life-changing injuries. For example, a gunshot on the spinal cord causes paralysis, limiting the victim’s movements and physical capabilities. Stabbings are rampant in poor areas as muggers rob people of valuables such as smartphones, money, and handbags. Showing any resistance during a mugging or armed robbery increases the likelihood of being stabbed or shot.
The living conditions in poor areas contribute to poor health. Overcrowding, poor waste disposal, stagnant waters, and air and water pollution are prevalent in impoverished neighborhoods, causing the spread of respiratory and airborne diseases, including pneumonia and tuberculosis. People living in slums are susceptible to illnesses because their environment has multiple health hazards. For example, slum-dwellers are vulnerable to preventable health conditions such as diarrhea, cholera, typhoid, and amebiasis because of consuming untreated water. Water-borne and respiratory diseases are prevalent in poverty-stricken estates.
Poverty drives women into prostitution. Involvement in prostitution exposes sex workers and their clients to sexually transmitted diseases such as HIV/AIDS, chlamydia, gonorrhea, syphilis, etc. These illnesses adversely impact the community’s health. HIV/AIDS rates are high in impoverished communities as sex workers prioritize money over their health. The human immunodeficiency virus attacks the body’s immune system, rendering a person vulnerable to illnesses. Those working as sex workers in poor neighborhoods are mostly uneducated and unaware of how to protect themselves against sexually transmitted diseases.
On the other hand, poor health contributes to poverty. The first way poor health causes poverty is by depleting savings. In countries such as the U.S, healthcare is considerably expensive, and a medical procedure, surgery, or prolonged hospital stay can consume a person’s entire life savings. High healthcare costs expose people to poverty, especially when the treatment forces families to sell personal properties, including businesses, houses, or vehicles. Second, poor health causes poverty by preventing a person from working and earning an income. Many illnesses force people to leave work permanently and focus on treatment, cutting household income, especially when the sick person is the family’s breadwinner. Such a family may fall into poverty in the long run.
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