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Australian professor: Asia's health under threat
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16:53, July 07, 2009

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Asia's economic transformation is putting the region's health at risk, Australian professor Daniel Tarantola warned on Tuesday.

Despite extraordinary progress which has lifted 600 million people out of poverty in Asia since 1990, the basic right to health is under threat and the future looks more uncertain, University of New South Wales (UNSW) Professor of Health and Human Rights, Daniel Tarantola said on Tuesday.

"The gap between the rich and poor is growing. The poor are getting sicker in crowded, polluted slums as Asia rapidly urbanizes, while the diseases of affluence like cardiovascular disease, cancer and depression are hitting the new rich," he said.

"The basic human right to health and economic development are inextricably linked, so we have to understand this complex relationship if we are going to turn Asia's growing wealth into better health."

Asia is especially vulnerable as it has the highest out-of-pocket health care costs and the lowest percent of GDP government spending on health.

"Asia hosts the highest number of households driven into poverty by health care costs, yet also boasts some of the world's best medical services for those who can pay," Tarantola said.

The first international conference to be held in Asia on health, human rights and development will consider the major threats to global and regional public health.

The conference to be held in Hanoi in October this year, will be co-hosted by UNSW's Initiative on Health and Human Rights and the Central Commission for Popularization and Education of the Communist Party of Vietnam.

Source: Xinhua

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