The importance of a bio-social approach – Week 8

As I have mentioned before, there is a lot of complexity to development. For example, the Nicaraguan agricultural economy is struggling for reasons such as climate change and a lack of sustainability, which could be improved by better farming practices and addressing deforestation. Government services and education are needed to assist the people, as well as allow general upward mobility of the poor. So the benefits of general government services and improved education services would increase the wealth of farmers in Nicaragua to allow them better healthcare, increasing productivity, and so further boosting the economy.

From our readings and research, there is clearly a difference between an effective and ethical way to address the complexity, versus a non-productive and harmful way. There are many previous examples of the latter: international corporations that take over areas of the land with government permission and develop the area with infrastructure but abuse the local people, foreign governments who send monetary aid but the aid would not trickle down to the general population, and international development organizations that visit to accomplish a project and leave without a lasting change.

Michael Rich is a global health physician and an expert in creating health systems, especially to treat multi-drug resistant tuberculosis. He came to speak to our class, and advocated for a bio-social approach to global health. In summary, disease is linked to the income of people. According to Rich, malaria discourages foreign investment and increases out-of-pocket spending on treatment. Malaria did not use to be as widespread of an issue, and a lack of mosquito control and changes in climate have facilitated the spread of the disease. By preserving biodiversity, malaria can be controlled, improving health and income. This development process involves climate change policies, environmental protection, improved water and waste systems, and more. While this seems involved, it shows a clear way how humans can be involved and fix physical systems to improve the public.

I would encourage you to check out the Partners in Health website to learn more about how they approach health development, and help a nation’s development. Money can’t solve all problems, but monetary support in the right hands can make a great difference.