Poverty as a health concern

The chief factor in the life of the lowest income pregnant woman is getting enough high quality food.

Re: Poverty and its consequences to the working and unemployed poor.

Recent research published in the Canadian Journal of Public Health reveal that in the lowest Canadian income group of the population, women have a still birth rate 24 per cent higher, infant mortality rates 58 per cent higher, and sudden death syndrome rate 83 per cent higher than in the middle income group of the Canadian population.

Children born to the lowest income parents are twice as likely to end up in special education classes for “slow learners” and three times as likely to suffer mental health problems than in the highest income group. The children with parents (or parent) in the lowest 10 per cent are twice as likely to “drop out” before completing high school. These problems cause enormous wastage in our education system and enormous cost to our health care systems as disease and death rates fall with increasing education and income.

In our society, with its associated medical care system, costs are rising and efficiency of health outcomes are falling as the system is not fully addressing the socio-economic determinants of health as demonstrated above, which probably accounts for more health factors that the whole of our medical care system can take care of. It is therefore necessary to do more in the socio-economic area for the lowest 10 per cent of the earning population and above all its most vulnerable small group of pregnant low income women. This at least focuses on the problem with minimal coast and likely will produce marked health improvement.

The chief factor in the life of the lowest income pregnant woman is getting enough high quality food. Food from food banks does not provide such a diet! To ensure such diet availability our welfare services should issue coupons for weekly supplies of milk, eggs and fruit juice and vitamins C and D.

The cost of the program would be minimal as only a small section of the female low income group is pregnant. It reveals an enormous benefit-to-cost ratio in all the factors I have mentioned.

Perhaps our politicians will take action as this rises above political divisions and is in the national interest.

 

Dr. H.D. Rogers,

Chilliwack