World Health & Population

World Health & Population November -0001 : 0-0.doi:10.12927/whp..17523

Economic Aspects of Public Health in Developing Countries

T. J. Stamps


I live in a small country in central Africa called Zimbabwe. It is actually smaller than you think, because real size is measured by a country's gross national product. Since 1779, when Adam Smith stated that a country's wealth depends on its ability to produce, and not the amount of gold it has, power shifted increasingly to large economies.

We must also recognize that public health is not merely primary health care, as established twenty-two years ago in the Alma Ata Declaration. Public health encompasses all factors that can improve the health of the community. It is usually described as disease prevention, health promotion, disease management (including cure), and rehabilitation. In my view, public health's function is to shift that equation towards the left. In other words, prevention must ultimately be the purpose for public health.

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