Chronic diseases and health promotion

Part Two. The urgent need for action

Chapter Two. Chronic diseases and poverty


This chapter has illustrated some of the relationships between chronic diseases and poverty. As a country develops economically, chronic disease risks may first increase among the wealthy but soon concentrate among the poor. In almost all countries poverty increases the risk of developing a chronic disease, and everywhere increases the chances of developing complications and dying prematurely. Chronic diseases can cause individuals and families to fall into poverty and create a downward spiral of worsening poverty and disease. But the impact is not only on individuals and their families. As the next chapter shows, chronic diseases also hinder the macroeconomic development of many countries.

  • The chronic disease burden is concentrated among the poor.
  • Poor people are more vulnerable for several reasons, including increased exposure to risks and decreased access to health services.
  • Chronic diseases can cause poverty in individuals and families, and draw them into a downward spiral of worsening disease and poverty.
  • Investment in chronic disease prevention programmes is essential for many low and middle income countries struggling to reduce poverty.