Evaluate the challenges of disease burden, poverty and development in developing countries

Evaluate the challenges of disease burden, poverty and development in developing countries

Challenges of Disease Burden

Diseases are one of the leading causes of death in the world causing approximately 29 million deaths worldwide. Despite the growing evidence of epidemiological and economic impact, the global response to the problem remains inadequate. Lack of financial support retards capacity development for prevention, treatment and research in most developing countries. For instance, up-to-date evidence related to the nature of the burden of diseases is not in the hands of decision makers. Chronic diseases for example, are believed to afflict only the affluent and the elderly, that they arise solely from freely acquired risks and that their control is ineffective (Asiimwe, 2013).

The influence of global economic factors on disease risks impedes progress as well as the need for proper health systems. Policies to address those impediments elevating various diseases on the health agenda of key policy makers should enable the provision of better evidence about risk factor control as well as persuading them of the need for change in the health systems. A more strategic and multi-sectoral policy approach, with solid research is essential to help reverse the negative trends in the global incidence of diseases. For instance, Kenya is experiencing increase in diabetes, heart disease, cancer, chronic lung, neurological, psychiatric diseases and injury even before communicable diseases like malaria, HIV and tuberculosis have been brought under control resulting into double burden of diseases.

Disease burden may result in various challenges including the loss of income resulting from lost productivity or employment due to major disabilities such as stroke or heart failure. Additionally, the loss of future earnings from assets that are sold off for chronic care, loss of income from other family members who must provide care and productive work years lost. It therefore, explains why in developing countries, the disadvantaged or those living in absolute poverty are estimated to have a five times higher probability of death between the ages of 15 and 59 years compared to those who are not poor (Asiimwe, 2013). These challenges are attributable to infectious diseases, under nutrition and complications of childbirth. The burden of maternal conditions is a major public health problem and represents a major and unnecessary burden for which policy makers should increasingly be held accountable.

Additionally, Kenya is undergoing a shortage of physicians with about 4500 of them in the country today. This is according to the report from the World Health Organization. Still the country only has one doctor covering about 10,000 residents of Nairobi. This is compared to a country like the USA, which has about 26 of them attending to the same number of people as those mentioned in Nairobi (Asiimwe, 2013). There is also the issue of migration of well trained and experienced health care providers from the public sector to private because of the high income promised. Others have even moved out of the country. This has led to an issue with the country trying to retain these skilled medical officers. With the high rate of infections, Kenya is still one of the countries with the highest emigration level of doctors in the world. The existence of only a small number of medical officers in Kenya make it hard for the state to record correct statistics of any disease outbreaks, carry out investigations or survey of a disease and record results from other countries.

Another challenge of disease burden in Kenya especially, is that of rising health bills due to poor eating habits and unwanted lifestyles of the people. The case of obesity among women mostly is on the rise which has led to emergence of other diseases like the ones mentioned above. Due to this rise, the cost of purchasing the medicine is proving to be a burden to the government because it has to allocate a huge amount of the budget to cater for them. For instance, the reports from the WHO, shows that the diabetes medicine in Kenya amounted to sh2.5billion just last year and a total of 2 billion for hypertension (Lewis, 2013). It is viewed that the lifestyle diseases in Kenya robe the country of its human resources that could be utilized in the process of economic growth. In addition, the country like any other developing nation is experiencing an increase in burden due to nutrition disorders. For instance, the case of malnutrition that has taken the lives of most children due to their exposure to pneumonia and other diseases.


Challenges of Development

The world recession experienced recently, could be viewed as a test of the vitality of urban policies in the developing countries. The pressure to move the economy to confront the problems of sluggish exports, to reduce the high unemployment rate, together with lack of government resources for the local and the state investment makes it difficult to implement the urban policies development (Reinert & Goldin, 2005). Before the prospects of urban development policies are outlined, some questions needs to be answered. What are the characteristics of urbanisation policies and the policy tools that have been utilized in developing countries? What rationales are given for these policies?

At the metropolitan level there is a large increase of population growth every year. Therefore, super cities with a higher population may no longer be the fastest growing and the current economic slowdown may marginally reduce their growth rates. Most metropolitan government encounter difficulty in developing and implementing well-structured investment programmes to confront such problems. Urban areas are overpopulated and are out growing their government capabilities. Local government have inadequate authority to coordinate activities beyond their own boundaries and their resources are not adequate for project implementation (Reinert & Goldin, 2005).

The intervention by local government requires support from the central government. There has to be creation of new local tax base and the existing tax system should be redesigned. The increasing reliance on the transfers from central government seems to be a better option but it is not necessarily feasible.

The common objectives are employment creation, building new towns and to implement large investment programmes in infrastructure and transport. The technical interest in the design of new facilities and new urban technologies, however, usually surpasses the comprehension of the effective demand for services by urban groups. This supply side, design-dominated approach to urban development is only being slowly rectified through a better comprehension of the economic, engineering and institutional impediments on urban development at low levels of income (Junne, 2011).

In this period of scarcity of capital, it is evident that to receive support from the central government planners, urban investment will have to contribute demonstrably to increasing the productivity of cities. This possess a new challenge to the urban analysts. How can it be shown that certain urban packages raise the productivity of a city? How can such a packages be defined? Can they be implemented easily and routinely (Junne, 2011)?


Challenges of Poverty

In Kenya, poverty is a widespread issue that has persisted for a long time. However, recent statistics show that there are improvements since the poverty levels are decreasing with time. Poverty can be classified into urban and rural poverty due to the dense rural nature of some parts. Urban poverty is more prevalent in slum areas. Poverty implications and characteristics vary widely from culture to culture. Some societies in the country have serious poverty issues due to cultural, linguistic, economic and physical isolation whereby they are set apart from the rest of the societies. In light of current development, it is apparent that most families are not gaining from the national economic growth. Around 50% of Kenyans are living under absolute poverty. 79% of the population lives in the rural areas where they depend on agriculture for their subsistence livelihood (Schumpeter, 2013).

Among the challenges associated with poverty is that it tends to hinder economic development in the country in various ways. The government has to spend a lot in terms of donations and standardize prices for goods and services in regions that are more affected by poverty. Most of the donations given to the people do not help them in the long-run. This is because they consume them, and they are back to where they were before. This hinders economic development in that the government spends a lot of funds in trying to sustain the poor. If these people were in a better position to provide for themselves adequately, the government could use these funds in other developmental projects (Hebel & Nurrochmat, 2010). The projects would definitely have positive impacts to the economy if the government makes the most appropriate investments. This is likely to result to improved living standards hence promoting the prospects of economic development.

Another challenge is that poverty limits the affected individuals from attaining their potential in life hence missing out on their dreams. As a result of poverty, children with high IQs are hampered from proceeding with their education up to the highest possible level. Most people in Kenya complete their primary education since the government is very keen on this. This is why the literacy levels for males and females have been increasing in the past few years (Schumpeter, 2013). However, many students that complete their primary education never get the opportunity of pursuing their careers by proceeding with secondary and tertiary education. This normally affects children that come from poor families. These children based on their level of comprehension have the ability of attaining great heights if only they had the opportunity to further their education. In the long-run, the country is devoid of great minds that would fit in different sectors and contribute significantly to economic development (Hebel & Nurrochmat, 2010). The contributions might come in way of innovations, which are critical for development. The government would also reduce the costs of hiring foreign labour for some developmental projects whose required manpower is not sufficient in the country.

Poverty has also contributed to the prevalence of poor health and sanitation in the country. Health resources in some counties are limited hence residents do not attain the desired attention that this field requires. This has resulted to numerous deaths, which would have been prevented if the necessary facilities were in order. When it comes to sanitation, access to clean water and proper drainage has become a problem in regions laden with poverty. The aspect has resulted to increased water borne and water wash diseases (Schumpeter, 2013).



Reinert, ‎, & Goldin, I. (2005). Development challenges in Sub-Saharan Africa and post-conflict countries: Report of the Committee for Development Policy on the seventh session (14-18 March 2005). New York: United Nations.

Junne, G. (2011). Postconflict development: Meeting new challenges. Boulder, Colo.: Lynne Rienner.

Lewis, M. (2013). Health transitions and the double disease burden in Asia and the Pacific: Histories of responses to non-communicable and communicable diseases. New York: Routledge.

Asiimwe, D. (2013). Financial costs of disease burden, morbidity and mortality from priority livestock diseases. Nairobi: ILRI.

Hebel, J., & Nurrochmat, D., 2010, Poverty alleviation: concepts and experiences : focused on Indonesian cases (1 Aufl. ed.). Göttingen [Germany: Cuvillier.

Schumpeter, J. A., 2013, The theory of economic development. New Jersey: Transaction Publishers.


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