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Topic 5


Access to services and treatment

Fast Facts

About 842 million people in the world – one in every eight – do not eat enough food to be healthy. For children, this often means malnutrition, underdevelopment, and stunting.

The risk of a woman in a developing country dying from a maternal-related cause during her lifetime is approximately 23 times higher than that of a woman living in a developed country.

90% of reported disease is in developing countries, countries which account for only 12% of global health spending.


In Depth

Health - vital in the fight against poverty

For more than a billion people, poverty and poor health are closely connected.

Without decent shelter, clean water or the tools and knowledge to help prevent the spread of disease, millions of people are prone to potentially life threatening conditions, illnesses or infectious diseases such as tuberculosis and malaria, malnutrition, and complications from childbirth, simply because they are poor. Ill-health can prevent people from earning an income, create additional burdens on family carers, and perpetuate the cycle of poverty. Improving the health of a community means that more people can lead happier, healthier lives, with dignity and security.

Health promotion is vital to helping communities overcome poverty. Organisations like CARE work with communities to help prevent and manage health risks, and to improve health and medical practices over the long term. With a particular focus on improving child and maternal health, we facilitate access to vital healthcare services for women who live in some of the world’s poorest communities. We also work to reduce the devastating impacts of HIV and AIDS as well as health in emergencies.

MDG 5: Improve maternal health

Maternal and reproductive health is a crucial step in helping communities to overcome poverty.

Better maternal health means not only improved health of mothers, but also an increase in the number of women in the workforce more able to provide for their families. Yet in many developing countries, mothers dying during pregnancy or from birth related injuries is an invisible epidemic. Untreated pregnancy and birth complications mean that 10-20 million women become disabled every year, undermining their ability to support their families. Worldwide in 2013, over 289, 000 women died from complications related to pregnancy or childbirth.

Many of these would have been preventable deaths and the figures could be significantly reduced if women, especially those in some of the world’s poorest communities, had access to well-equipped hospitals, trained birth attendants and other medical services.


The human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) is one of the most serious, deadly diseases in human history.

In its acute and advanced phase HIV causes a condition called Acquired ImmunoDeficiency Syndrome — better known as AIDS. If people with HIV receive the proper treatment, they can live long, relatively healthy lives, just as people with other chronic diseases like diabetes can. Yet, as with diabetes or asthma, there is still no cure.

The impact of HIV is disproportionately high in the developing world, which is home to 95 per cent of those living with the virus.

HIV and AIDS are more than just a health problem, and can lead to a vicious cycle of poverty. In poor communities, those infected with HIV are often too sick to work and earn an income, meaning less money for potentially life-saving treatment. For children, losing a parent to AIDS can be especially devastating, and can have serious consequences for a child’s access to basic necessities such as shelter, food, clothing, health and education. Worldwide, it is estimated that 17.8 million children under 18 have been orphaned by AIDS and that this will rise to 25 million by 2015.

Organisations like CARE are working closely with people living with HIV to provide necessary support and medical care. Access to accurate information and education on HIV means better prevention and health management outcomes as well as helping to reduce the stigma associated with the disease.

Health in an emergency

Both disasters and public health emergencies, such as epidemics, can devastate local communities.

For example, in places like Sierra Leone and Liberia, CARE emergency teams work to stop the spread of diseases such as Ebola. By distributing hygiene materials such as soap, water buckets and gloves, showing people proper hand-washing techniques and promoting hygiene messages, we’re helping stop the spread of preventable epidemics.

During emergencies, organisations like CARE are on the ground, providing vital supplies of food, medicine, clean water and other relief supplies to meet the health needs of those affected.

Learn more by reading the case study below and introducing some of the individuals CARE works with to your class.

Timor-Leste: Juvita’s healthy boys

As a mother of two boys in Timor-Leste, Juvita is naturally proud of her children’s achievements, but none more so than the progress they are making on their CARE growth chart.

Read More

Teaching This Topic

Teaching Notes

People living in extreme poverty often exist in conditions which cause or exacerbate health problems, often without access to nutritious food, clean water and sanitation. Yet where communities have access to basic healthcare, many of these health problems can be prevented.

This topic can be incorporated into the curriculum of several subjects including Health and Social Science. This is suitable for most year levels with your discretion.

Continue reading the next chapter: Water and Hygiene

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CARE Australia
PO Box 372 Collins Street West
Melbourne VIC 8007

Phone +61 3 9421 5572
Fax +61 3 9421 5593