Editorial

Bridging the equity gap in maternal and child health

BMJ 2005; 331 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.38603.526644.47 (Published 15 September 2005) Cite this as: BMJ 2005;331:585
  1. Zulfiqar A Bhutta, Husein Lalji Dewraj professor ([email protected])
  1. Department of Paediatrics and Child Health, Aga Khan University, Karachi 74800, Pakistan

    Will depend on health systems research as well as action

    We cannot allow it to be said by history that the difference between those who lived and died…was nothing more than poverty, age, or skin colour.

    John Lewis, Congressman from Georgia, on the devastation caused by hurricane Katrina.1

    That we live in a world with vastly unequal distribution of wealth and resources was cruelly underscored by the recent disaster in New Orleans, proving that income inequality often translates into huge gaps in access to care and support during crises. In the wealthiest nation of the world, income inequality has been climbing steadily, with more than 50% of income going to the top 20% of households, 37 million people living below the poverty line, and 45.8 million lacking health insurance.2 These disparities may be much wider in many developing and middle income countries.

    Differences in health status caused by such disparities in wealth are often avoidable and unjust, and inequities in maternal and child health are the starkest examples. Just as many children die in Africa every month, mostly from preventable and easily treatable diseases, as were lost in the Asian …

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