1. Fighting Extreme Poverty
About 900 million people live under the World Bank’s poverty line of USD1.90 per day. Diseases associated with extreme poverty, such as malaria and waterborne illnesses, kill millions of people every year. Poor nutrition in developing countries can lead to cognitive impairment, birth defects and growth stunting.
Much of this suffering can be easily prevented or mitigated. Antimalarial bednets cost around USD2.50 each. With technical assistance, countries can fortify staple foods like flour with essential micronutrients (like iron, iodine, and vitamins) incredibly cheaply. Treating a child that has a parasitic worm infection costs less than USD1.50.
Mass-media campaigns to drive behaviour change are a promising way of improving health and wellbeing, and may significantly improve the effectiveness of other healthcare services. And simply transferring money to people who are very poor provides direct economic empowerment, giving recipients more control over their lives.
Not only does improving health avert the direct suffering associated with sickness and death, it also allows people to participate more fully in education and work, and consequently earn more money and have more opportunities later in life.