Places that harbour a lot of parasites and pathogens not only suffer the debilitating effects of disease on their workforces, but also have their human capital eroded, child by child, from birth. Economist
This research featured in this weeks economist and emanating from Christopher Eppig at the University of New Mexico reveals the findings that infectious diseases cause reduced human intelligence and the obvious corollary that the control of these diseases is crucial to a country’s development. We knew vaccination, clean water and proper sewerage transformed public health, what we hadn’t appreciated is their impact on cognition and intellect. This may be seen as another reason to increase health interventions in the developing world. It is. But did we really need another reason to confront the daily indictment of 28,000 child deaths? (I don’t want to ignore the progress that has been made since 1990 when the figure was 40,000, but infant mortality and life expectancy in the third world are still tragically high).