Utah Valley Global Health Group

A blog about global health for those living in Utah Valley and their friends.

The Economic Interplay on Global Health by Rachel Milar

Posted by benjamincrookston on August 12, 2008

As I just finished a project on nutrition in Mexico my mind was taken back to a trip I took to Roma Texas, an establishment of no more than 30 people, earlier this year.  Roma Texas is hardly a pueblo in central Mexico, a dry and arid area.  I went with a small NGO to help build a bathroom for a local school–an interesting project that exposed me, more than anything, to the poor people in rural Mexico.  It was my first trip to Mexico, and going into it I assumed that the most shocking part of the trip for me would be the abject poverty the people lived in.  Upon returning home I was surprised to realize that it was the lack of an economy that most stuck out to me.  I was shocked at how little opportunity the people there had, simply because there was no economy in which to showcase whatever education they gained.

In the project I just worked on discussing malnutrition in Mexico, one area of concern was that though the people are improving their education, they have nothing to do with it.  This is a fascinating aspect to any program throughout the world; ensuring that the education people gain through any program will be utilized.  Health organizations obviously have an opportunity that they hopefully regard as a responsibility to educate people on health in general as well as specific health topics.  In doing so they spark an interest in the people in furthering their own education, but they need to be careful in ensuring the people have something to do with that education; my fear and understanding is that there are far too many places across the globe like Roma Texas, where survival from day to day is the way everybody lives.  As health organizations plan what programs they can implement to improve the health of specific groups of people, education and its use in the economy is a crucial characteristic to take into consideration.  I certainly believe that education is a priceless gift for anybody; I now can see why the ability to use that education is also of significant importance.

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3 Responses to “The Economic Interplay on Global Health by Rachel Milar”

  1. chads said

    Interesting comments. There is certainly a link between poverty and poor health. There are several programs looking at the possible combination of basic health interventions and microcredit.

  2. Brita said

    This is a really interesting concept that I have not given very much thought to previously. In learning about international health and many of the problems that exist is has really become apparent to me that much of the solution is education. People need to understand how disease are spread, how to eat a healthy diet and how to live sanitarily. Those are just simple solutions that make for a great start. We then run into greater roadblocks that more frequently than not are related to economic status. Poverty is a risk factor for so many things, including malnutrition or inability to access health care. The solution to poverty is complicated but the one I have seen in action is education. The goal is to educate people and give them a skill and then they will be able to make a living and provide a better quality of life for themselves and their families. But what happens when you enable an individual is they come back to the same community where they were living their impoverished life and there is still no opportunity there. Even though they now have a skill the community is unable to offer the support needed to sustain any sort of business. This often leads to the educated and capable members of a community leaving and finding a community better off where they can flourish. This leads me to think that the best way to help fight poverty is not always individually. If you do help a person to receive an education or skill that person may also need help incorporating that skill back into society. It makes me realize how little I know about economics and wonder how you could improve the economy in these towns. Is there a way to help a whole town at once? Is there a way to help them help themselves as well as each other? That would be great if you could build up a whole community at once. Thanks Rachel for pointing out this obstacle that I was unaware of.

  3. chads said

    Thanks for your comments, Brita. I’ve meant to do a book review for “Just and Lasting Change: When Communities own their futures” by Carl Taylor for a while, but it is highly recommended, addresses community empowerment and self-transformation.

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