Nursing and the Impact of Worldwide Poverty

Barbara Sheer, DNSc, FNP-C, FAANP


Topics in Advanced Practice Nursing eJournal. 2007;7(3) 

In This Article


The cycle of poverty is more than a socioeconomic issue. It impacts health, well being, and quality of life for generations. Poverty is a global issue that knows no boundaries. It is a growing problem in the United States and other developed nations as well as a continuing and devastating problem in developing nations. The statistics are staggering[1]:

  • Over 3 billion people, half the world's population, live on less than $2 a day;

  • Six million children die from malnutrition annually; and

  • Over 11 million children die each year from preventable diseases.

Nursing is intricately involved with healthcare, health promotion, and disease prevention. Nurses in developing countries are often the first line of care providers. In all nations, nurses care for the disenfranchised. In fact, there is a link between the health of a nation and the healthcare workforce. According to Dr. Mireille Kingma, Director, International Centre for Human Resources in Nursing, International Council of Nurses, Geneva, Switzerland, countries that are having the greatest difficulty in meeting the United Nations (UN) Millennium Development Goals (MDG) are faced with absolute shortfalls in their health workforce.[2] This limits their potential to respond equitably to even basic health needs


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