Poverty is both a consequence and cause of poor health, nutrition, and high fertility. The illness of the family breadwinner leads to loss of income and unaffordable health care costs, sinking poor families further into poverty. Conversely, people living in poverty lack access to basic health services, medicines, vaccines, clean water, sanitation, adequate nutrition, knowledge about disease prevention and birth control -- all essential inputs to help produce and maintain good health.
Malnutrition is the main contributor to poor health, particularly among children, making them more susceptible to common childhood ailments that too often prove fatal. And high fertility rates take a grim toll on women in poor countries and are to blame for underweight babies.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), over 11 million people die each year from a handful of preventable and treatable infectious diseases such as measles, malaria, and diarrheal diseases. UNICEF estimates that 146 million children in developing countries under the age of five are underweight. Each year, more than 500,000 women die during pregnancy and childbirth and for every woman who dies in childbirth, around 20 more suffer injury, infection or disease (UNICEF).
The theme of this year's Global Development Marketplace, "Improving Results in Health, Nutrition, and Population for the Poor", will recognize and support efforts to improve health, nutrition, and population outcomes for poor people in developing countries. The World Bank is seeking initiatives that use innovative mechanisms to reach vulnerable groups, public-private partnerships to improve delivery of health goods and services, and inter-sectoral linkages for illness/disease/injury prevention. We are also keen to identify cost-effective approaches and technologies that build local capacity to gather and use information on health, nutrition, and population in developing countries.