Main Page
Managing Water Resources
Food Security for the Poor
Health Problems of the Poor
 Rolling back Malaria
 Saving a Mother´s Life
 Benefits of Fortification
 Making Thai Food Safe
Environmental Management
Strengthening Nuclear Safety
The Science Serving People brochure is available for download in Adobe Acrobat format
PDF with images (2,9 MB)
PDF with text only (1 MB)
TC Web site

Focusing Science on the Health Problems of the Poor

Life expectancy has risen dramatically in the developing world in recent decades. But infectious diseases—such as malaria, hepatitis, AIDS, and tuberculosis—continue to take a major toll, particularly in poverty-stricken regions. Controlling these potential killers is a key priority for international assistance.

Infectious diseases kill an estimated 13 million people each year worldwide. They account for over 40 per cent of all deaths in developing countries. According to the WHO, infectious diseases are the world’s largest killers of young adults and children. Malaria alone cost Africa US$ billions by reducing economic growth by an estimated 1.3 per cent every year.

Cancer is also a rapidly growing health problem across the developing world. No longer is cancer believed to be a disease of the affluent. The caseload in developing countries has risen from 2 million in 1985, to 5 million in 2000, and is projected to reach 10 million in 2015. This rapid increase has spurred nations to recognize the need for improvements in clinical and medical physics aspects of radiation oncology to enhance cancer care.

IAEA-supported human health activities concentrate on the detection and treatment of diseases afflicting the poor, and the planning and evaluation of applied nutrition programmes tailored especially to the needs of women and children. They also give priority to the establishment of quality assurance programmes for radiation dosimetry and treatment of cancer.

Health authorities in Mali, for example, are employing nuclear methods to identify drug resistant strains of malaria and to tailor drug treatment strategies at the community level. Nutrition experts in Thailand are using isotopic tracers to measure the effectiveness of iron-fortified fish sauce in child-bearing women. The nutritionally improved product will then be mass marketed by the private sector. A new global alliance has been forged with the WHO and other concerned organizations aimed at vaccine development for AIDS. Last but not least, a new cancer treatment facility in Ethiopia’s capital has given new hope for rural women suffering from invasive cervical cancer.

These activities span many disciplines—including radioimmunoassay, radiotherapy, radiopharmaceutical production, nutritional analysis, and sterilization techniques for transplants and medical instruments. All efforts aim at building the capacity of developing countries to manage and direct science toward the health problems of the needy.

  Focusing Science on the Health Problems of the Poor

Rolling Back Malaria: New Tools for Fighting a Leading Killer Full Story...
Saving a Mother´s Life: Radiotherapy Offers Hope to Women with Cancer Full Story...
Measuring the Benefits of Fortification: Thailand’s Battle Against “Hidden Hunger” Full Story...
Making Thai Food Safe and Marketable Worldwide
Full Story...

Arsenic poisoning

The health problems of the very poor—malaria, AIDS, tuberculosis—deserve greater attention from the global scientific community. In Bangladesh (left), many villagers are suffering from arsenic poisoning. This man’s village is benefiting from a new deep well that is arsenic free.

TC Web site