“Diseases of poverty” is a term used to collectively describe diseases and health conditions that are more prevalent among the poor than among wealthier people. In many cases poverty is considered the leading risk factor or determinant for these diseases, and in some cases the diseases themselves are identified as barriers to the economic development required to end poverty. The WHO estimates that diseases associated with poverty account for 45 per cent of the disease burden in the poorest countries. Tuberculosis, malaria and HIV/AIDS, for example, together account for nearly 18 per cent
Together, diseases of poverty kill approximately 14 million people annually.
Gastroenteritis with its associated diarrhea results in about 1.8 million deaths in children yearly with most of these in the world’s poorest nations. At the global level, the three primary poverty-related diseases (PRDs) are AIDS, malaria, and tuberculosis. Developing countries account for 95% of the global AIDS prevalence and 98% of active tuberculosis infections. Furthermore, 90% of malaria deaths occur in sub-Saharan Africa. Together, these three diseases account for 10% of global mortality.
Treatable childhood diseases are another set which have disproportionately higher rates in poor countries despite the availability of cures. These include measles, pertussis and polio.
Three other diseases, measles, pneumonia, and diarrheal diseases, are also closely associated with poverty, and are often included with AIDS, malaria, and tuberculosis in broader definitions and discussions of diseases of poverty.
More than a million people are affected by one or more tropical disease, which are often neglected as they have been eliminated in the Western world. They include malaria, Chagas disease (American trypanosomiasis), sleeping sickness (African trypanosomiasis), leismaniosis, schistosomiasis, tubercolosis.
These neglected diseases, excluding malaria and Tubercolosis, cause between 500,000 and a million deaths each year. Amongst the new drugs approved between 1975 and 2004, only 1.3% had been developed for tropical diseases and tubercolosis, in spite of the latter accounting for 11.4% of all diseases. New therapeutic agents in this field are clearly required.