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Disease and Education

Updated Wednesday, 14th July 2004

Course extract from Preparing For Development - Disease and Education

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Literacy - what's the link with disease? Copyrighted  image Icon Copyright: BBC Activity Eight

Examine the following table, which links under-five mortality rate (U5MR) and adult illiteracy (AIR). The adult illiteracy rate is the percentage of people over the age of 15 in a population who are illiterate.

Region Country
U5MR
AIR (%)
Africa Mozambique
213
58
Sierra Leone
283
79*
Malawi
229
42
Uganda
170
35
Ghana
96
31
Egypt
59
42
America Peru
47
11
Brazil
40
16
Jamaica
24
14
Cuba
8
6*
Canada
7
0
Asia Pakistan
120
57
Bangladesh
96
60
India
83
45
Indonesia
52
15
China
36
17
Sri Lanka
18
9
Japan
5
0
Europe Poland
11
0
Greece
8
4
UK
7
0
Sweden
5
0

* Old data.

Source: World Bank, 2000.

(a) Examine the countries that have zero adult illiteracy. Are the under-five mortality rates for these countries low or high compared with those for the rest of the table?

(b) Now examine the countries that have illiteracy rates that are more than

50%. Are the under-five mortality rates for these countries generally low or high compared with those for the rest of the table?

(c) From your answers to these questions, would you say there is a link between adult illiteracy and under-five mortality rate? If so, what is it?

After you have come up with your answers, compare them with mine on the next page.

 

Learning, and staying healthy Copyrighted  image Icon Copyright: BBC Activity Eight: Suggested Answer

You were asked:

(a) Examine the countries that have zero adult illiteracy. Are the under-five mortality rates for these countries low or high compared with those for the rest of the table?

(b) Now examine the countries that have illiteracy rates that are more than

50%. Are the under-five mortality rates for these countries generally low or high compared with those for the rest of the table?

(c) From your answers to these questions, would you say there is a link between adult illiteracy and under-five mortality rate? If so, what is it?

Activity eight should have suggested to you that the countries with high illiteracy have high under-five mortality rates and vice versa. Illiteracy rate is often taken as a measure of education level in a country (high illiteracy being equivalent to a low education level). So we can therefore draw a link between low education level and high incidence of disease. This link between education and disease has, in fact, been made many times. For example, the World Bank has reported on 'the extremely powerful role of literacy in determining a population's level of mortality'. It suggests that this single factor carries more weight than any other.

Now, try section five, which will consider the links between disease and poverty.

About this sample

This course sample is adapted from Preparing For Development, part of the U213: International Development: Challenges for a world in transition and TU871: Development: Context and practice courses.

 

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