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DEVELOPMENT REPORT - Economics and Health

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This is the VOA Special English Development Report.

The World Health Organization has released a report about how disease weakens the economies of poor countries. For years, people believed that good health is a direct result of strong economic development. However, this study suggests the opposite is true. It says that strong economic development is an important result of improved health.

An international committee of economists and experts in public health and policy carried out study. It is based on almost ninety investigations in countries around the world. Some people say the study is the most complete examination to link investments in health care to economic growth.

The study calls for a large increase in foreign aid for health care services in developing countries. In the world's richest countries, total spending for health care for each person is almost two-thousand dollars a year. However, in the world's poorest nations, spending on health care for each person is only thirteen dollars a year.

The W-H-O says this amount should be increased to thirty-eight dollars a year for each person by Two-Thousand-Fifteen. The money would help poor nations provide treatment for diseases. It would also provide babies with important health care early in life.

Jeffrey Sachs of Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts, led the study. He says about eight-million lives could be saved each year if the richest nations increased spending on health care in developing countries. In addition, Mister Sachs says more than fifty of the world's poorest countries would have a chance to improve the living and economic conditions for their people.

The study links political crises in developing countries to high death rates among newborn babies. The report also provides new information about how AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria affect economic growth in developing countries. The researchers suggest eight-thousand-million dollars be provided each year to help fight these diseases.

The W-H-O plans to send the study to many officials around the world. They include heads of state, ministers of finance, health and trade, members of national parliaments and non-governmental organizations. It says the report is a valuable guide for future international health programs, policies and financing.

This VOA Special English Development Report was written by Jill Moss.

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