Third World Health

The Third World refers to underdeveloped countries, mostly in Africa, Asia and Latin American, which share certain characteristics, such as widespread poverty, high birth rates and economic dependence. The Third World distinguishes from the Old World, of the Middle East and Europe and the New World, of North America.

Initially, during the Cold War period, the term Third World was used to signify countries that were unaligned to the Soviet Union or China, the United States and NATO. In the 21st century, the term is mostly associated with countries where famine is common, health care almost non-existent, a lack of public education and large scale poverty. International organizations such as the United Nations, the World Health Organization (WHO) and UNICEF have prioritized aid and support for Third World countries in various ways.

According to statistics published by WHO in 2009, the life expectancy at birth in countries such as Malawi, Lesotho, the Central African Republic, Chad, Zambia and Zimbabwe is no more than 48. In developed nations such as Australia, Canada, France, Italy, Japan and the UK, life expectancy is more than 80. Many factors contribute to the huge difference but the most obvious is the poor health care system in developing countries. Statistics for 2008 state that nearly half of all deaths caused by infectious and parasitic diseases happened in Africa and most of the rest occurred in South-East Asia.

Since the 1980s, AIDS/HIV has posed the most serious health threat in developing regions. By 2010 in South Africa, it is estimated that 5.6 million people have HIV; in Nigeria, that number is 3.3 million; 2.4 million in India; 1.5 million in Kenya; 1.4 million in Mozambique and 1.2 million in Zimbabwe. The UN Commission on HIV/AIDS and Governance in Africa (CHGA) reported that by 2010, African governments had acknowledged the need for mass prevention measures and were co-operating. Statistics show that HIV figures had stabilized and in some countries had started to fall.

Malnutrition is a major issue in Third World countries. In Sudan, one-third of children under five years old are underweight and one in five dies of under-nourishment. In India, the percentage of underweight children is 43.5 percent. In 2000, the UN set eight Millennium Development Goals (MDG), the first of which had three sub-targets to be achieved by 2015. These include "reduce by half the proportion of people living on less than a dollar a day; achieve full and productive employment and decent work for all, including women and young people; and reduce by half the proportion of people who suffer from hunger."

Another goal that refers to Third World health states that by 2015 the UN should "reduce by two-thirds the mortality rate among children under five." The UN has also set a target to ensure more children are immunized against measles before their first birthday. According to reports, global immunization coverage has risen from 74 percent in 1990 to 82 percent in 2009.

The inclusion among Third World developing nations of China is a topic which itself creates much debate among geographers and economists. Cities such as Beijing, Shanghai and Hong Kong demonstrate many attributes of the developing world and the Chinese economy is seen to be a significant force globally entering the 21 century. However,the challenges of Third World countries can still be found in much of the rest of China.

Reports on MDG show that: "China has reduced the number of people living in poverty in rural areas from 85 million in 1990 to 35.97 million by end of 2009, thereby achieving the target of halving the proportion of people living in extreme poverty." The report also states: "The reported infant mortality rate dropped from 50.2 percent in 1991 to 13.8 percent in 2009 while the mortality rate of children under-five dropped from 61 percent in 1991 to 17.2 percent in 2004." The report continues: "Maternal mortality ratio has dropped from 80 per 100,000 live births in 1991 to 31.9 per 100,000 live births in 2009, but these national figures mask important disparities between eastern developed provinces and western poorer provinces of China."

Selected full-text books and articles on this topic

Disease and Mortality in Sub-Saharan Africa
Dean T. Jamison; Richard G. Feachem; Malegapuru W. Makgoba; Eduard R. Bos; Florence K. Baingana; Karen J. Hofman; Khama O. Rogo.
World Bank, 2006
Health Care Patterns and Planning in Developing Countries
Rais Akhtar.
Greenwood Press, 1991
The Dread Disease: Cancer in the Developing World
Parsi, Kayhan; Bhattacharya, Dhrubajyoti; List, Justin.
The Hastings Center Report, Vol. 41, No. 3, May-June 2011
PEER-REVIEWED PERIODICAL
Peer-reviewed publications on Questia are publications containing articles which were subject to evaluation for accuracy and substance by professional peers of the article's author(s).
Making Pregnancy Safer in Least Developed Countries: The Challenge of Delivering Available Services
Islam, Quazi Monirul.
UN Chronicle, Vol. 44, No. 4, December 2007
Urban Poverty and Health in Developing Countries
.
Population Bulletin, Vol. 64, No. 2, June 2009
What Can Be Done about the Private Health Sector in Low-Income Countries? * (Public Health Reviews)
Mills, Anne; Brugha, Ruairi; Hanson, Kara; McPake, Barbara.
Bulletin of the World Health Organization, Vol. 80, No. 4, April 2002
PEER-REVIEWED PERIODICAL
Peer-reviewed publications on Questia are publications containing articles which were subject to evaluation for accuracy and substance by professional peers of the article's author(s).
Financing Health Care in Sub-Saharan Africa
Ronald J. Vogel.
Greenwood Press, 1993
Emergency Medical Care in Developing Countries: Is It Worthwhile? (Policy and Practice)
Razzak, Junaid A.; Kellermann, Arthur L.
Bulletin of the World Health Organization, Vol. 80, No. 11, November 2002
PEER-REVIEWED PERIODICAL
Peer-reviewed publications on Questia are publications containing articles which were subject to evaluation for accuracy and substance by professional peers of the article's author(s).
Improving Health in Developing Countries: Building In-Country Research Capacity Is Critical to Staving off Epidemics and Finding Long-Term Solutions to Critical Health Needs
Csaszar, Michael; Lal, Bhavya.
Issues in Science and Technology, Vol. 21, No. 1, Fall 2004
Pathologies of Power: Health, Human Rights, and the New War on the Poor
Paul Farmer.
University of California Press, 2003
AIDS in Africa: A Retrospective. (Public Health Classics)
Quinn, Thomas C.
Bulletin of the World Health Organization, Vol. 79, No. 12, December 2001
PEER-REVIEWED PERIODICAL
Peer-reviewed publications on Questia are publications containing articles which were subject to evaluation for accuracy and substance by professional peers of the article's author(s).
Health, Food, and Nutrition in Third World Development
Pradip K. Ghosh.
Greenwood Press, 1984
Financial Challenges of Health Care Reform in Nicaragua
Costa-Fonta, Joan; Costa, Montse; Rodriguez-Monguio, Rosa; Rovira, Joan; Sanidford, Peter.
International Journal of Economic Development, Vol. 6, No. 4, October 2004
PEER-REVIEWED PERIODICAL
Peer-reviewed publications on Questia are publications containing articles which were subject to evaluation for accuracy and substance by professional peers of the article's author(s).
Injuries: The Neglected Burden in Developing Countries
Gosselin, Richard A.; Spiegel, David A.; Coughlin, Richard; Zirkle, Lewis G.
Bulletin of the World Health Organization, Vol. 87, No. 4, April 2009
PEER-REVIEWED PERIODICAL
Peer-reviewed publications on Questia are publications containing articles which were subject to evaluation for accuracy and substance by professional peers of the article's author(s).
Eradicating Malaria
Breman, Joel G.
Science Progress, Vol. 92, No. 1, Spring 2009
Looking for a topic idea? Use Questia's Topic Generator