Health is an important form of human capital, and illness can be a major stressor and financial burden in terms of treatment and lost productivity.

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Health intersects with resilience and sustained poverty escapes in at least three ways.

  • Health problems can be a shock that reduces well-being temporarily or with longer term impoverishing effects.
  • Health is also an important form of human capital that can act as a resilience capacity to protect individuals, households, and communities in the face of adversity.
  • Finally, health outcomes are in and of themselves development outcomes that need to be sustained in the face of shocks and stresses.

Households can often cope with one illness, but a series of illnesses can be a major stressor because of the sick individual’s inability to work, and through the financial burden of treatment. Medical care can be costly, and in places with limited healthcare facilities, may require significant travel, increasing the cost. Households may resort to negative coping strategies such as selling assets and taking out loans from informal moneylenders to cover these costs. Addressing these challenges requires a system-wide approach that improves the coverage and quality of health services, expands the number of facilities and doctors, and supports universal health insurance.

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