A Sequential Strategy

By Rivera, Ana | Harvard International Review, Spring 2012 | Go to article overview

A Sequential Strategy


Rivera, Ana, Harvard International Review


In their article, "The Triple Burden: Disease in Developing Nations," Frenk and Gomez-Dantes identify the largest health challenges facing low-and middle-income countries: infection, undernutrition and maternal mortality; non-communicable diseases (NCDs); and diseases caused by globalization. Thanks to heightened importance placed on engaging with economic development to solve global health problems, these countries are receiving much-needed attention. However, we must examine whether or not these problems can be addressed simultaneously, or if a hierarchy must be established to move forward and improve the health of these nations.

The authors point out that NCDs are becoming the greatest causes of sickness and death. For this reason, the authors suggest focusing on creating stronger health systems overall, well-equipped to stage interventions against the unfinished agenda, while still providing a large selection of services. However, countries faced with malnutrition, infectious diseases, and maternal health problems, do not have the luxury of dealing with NCDs. Solving malnutrition and infectious diseases was accomplished in other countries through public health measures such as education and improved sanitation. Thus, these countries require economic and infrastructure solutions, while a health systems overhaul would only be necessary for the treatment of NCDs.

The third health challenge--risks posed by globalization, such as obesity--should not take precedence over the first two challenges. …

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