Magazine article The Nation's Health

Anti-Poverty Policy: A Priority for Public Health Intervention

Magazine article The Nation's Health

Anti-Poverty Policy: A Priority for Public Health Intervention

Article excerpt

ALTHOUGH I have no formal background in the study of poverty, the importance of the issue compels me to address it. My experience relates to the effects of poverty, not so much its root causes.

While alleviating poverty is at the top of the global development agenda, my focus is on how we can meet the continuing challenge of reducing poverty within our wealthy country.

I see effects of poverty in shorter life expectancy and more disabling diseases among the poor. Living in a large U.S. city,

I see effects of poverty in poor housing conditions in low-income neighborhoods. I see the vicious cycle of health problems caused by poverty and poverty caused by health problems. And I learn from colleagues elsewhere about the faces and challenges of poverty in suburban and rural areas.

During my graduate studies in social work, I learned about social policy approaches to poverty as far back as the 16th and 17th centuries. I was struck by the judgmental attitudes as to who among the poor were or were not deserving of public relief and the ideas about how that relief could be provided.

During the federal "war on poverty" era that began in the 1960s, I began to understand the complexity of poverty and how it is embedded in our social structure. And I have watched a worsening scenario unfold from then until the present day.

Poverty is still with us and has become worse. Something is very wrong in our current society in this respect. …

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