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Poverty and Reproductive Health

The consensus and commitment among many countries and the international community to the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) implicitly recognizes the substantial positive effects that the attainment of these goals would have on the reduction of poverty and gains in welfare for millions of households.  Poverty and health are intimately related, and poverty is both a cause and consequence of ill health. The relationship is fairly straightforward and obvious: poor health and nutritional conditions compromise a household's ability to generate a sufficient livelihood, triggering a process of impoverishment; conversely, being impoverished causes ill health because household members are improperly nourished, are unable to access health services to treat illnesses, or both. At the macro level, infectious diseases like malaria and AIDS can take off a few points in the GDP growth rate. At a micro level, serious illnesses can make the difference between poverty and living well for individual families.


The World Bank's mission is to alleviate poverty and while many efforts have been made to reduce disparity througout the world, many people are still poor.   (see where the world's poor are living here).


Poor reproductive exacerbates poverty and perpetuates the cycle of intergenerational poverty. Poor reproductive health reduces productivity and earnings, constrains investments in children and leads to untold private suffering. Poverty also aggravates poor reproductive health, contributing to risky behaviors, such as unsafe sex for survival fueling the spread of HIV infection and other sexually transmitted infections.


The Poverty and Reproductive Health situation in twelve countries has been profiled as an evidence base for policy recommendations for Poverty Reduction Strategy Papers (PRSP) and for Country Assistance Strategies (CAS) at the World Bank. The profiles highlight new evidence on reproductive health and poverty links.

Other resources:

A Review of Population, Reproductive Health, and Adolescent Health & Development in Poverty Reduction Strategies, World Bank, 2004.