Article Text

Download PDFPDF
Is the continued existence of diseases of poverty an indictment of our current humanitarian ethos?
  1. Rachel Aldridge
  1. 43 Cdo FPG MO, HMS Neptune, Faslane G84 8HL, UK
  1. Correspondence to Dr Rachel Aldridge, 43 Cdo FPG MO, HMS Neptune, Faslane G84 8HL, UK; rachel.aldridge101{at}


The continued existence of diseases of poverty is one of the great medical moral dilemmas of the 21st century. That this group of largely either preventable or treatable diseases still plagues a great many of the world’s poorest citizens is a challenging problem to address. This paper examines diseases of poverty not by looking at the pathogenic diseases themselves but by looking at the ‘diseases’ of society that lead to the prevalence of such morbidity. ‘Diseases’ such as lack of infrastructure, lack of nutrition, lack of education, lack of funding and lack of socioeconomic stability. By addressing each of these, in turn, this paper looks to stimulate thought on how society can approach and prevent diseases of poverty in the future.

  • social medicine
  • medical ethics
  • health economics
  • health policy
  • tropical medicine

Data availability statement

No data are available.

Statistics from

Request Permissions

If you wish to reuse any or all of this article please use the link below which will take you to the Copyright Clearance Center’s RightsLink service. You will be able to get a quick price and instant permission to reuse the content in many different ways.


  • Contributors This article is the sole work of the author.

  • Funding The authors have not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Provenance and peer review Commissioned; internally peer reviewed.

  • Author note This is a paper commissioned as a part of the Humanitarian and Disaster Relief Operations special issue of BMJ Military Health.