Document Type

Article

Department

Community Health Sciences

Abstract

In early 1990s, Jamison, Mosley and others concluded that a profound demographic and consequent epidemiological transition is taking place in developing countries. According to this classical model, by the year 2015, infectious diseases will account for only about 20% of deaths in developing countries as chronic diseases become more pronounced. These impending demographic and epidemiological transitions were to dominate the health sector reform agenda in developing countries. Following an analysis of fertility, mortality and other demographic and epidemiological data from South Asian and other developing countries, the paper argues that the classical model is in need of re-evaluation. A number of new 'challenges' have complicated the classical interplay of demographic and epidemiological factors. These new challenges include continuing population growth in some countries, rapid unplanned urbanization, the HIV/AIDS pandemic in Sub-Saharan Africa (and its impending threat in South Asia), and globalization and increasing marginalisation of developing countries. While the traditional lack of investment in human development makes the developing countries more vulnerable to the vicissitudes of globalization, increasing economic weakness of their governments forces them to retreat further from the social sector. Pockets of poverty and deprivation, therefore, persist giving rise to three simultaneous burdens for South Asia and much of the rest of the developing world: continuing communicable diseases, increasing burden of chronic diseases, and increasing demand for both primary and tertiary levels of health care services. While these complex factors, on the one hand, underscore the need for health sector reform, on the other, they make the task much more difficult and challenging. The paper emphasizes the need to revisit the classical model of demographic and epidemiological transition. It is argued that the health sector in developing countries must be aware of and effectively address these 'new challenges'. Although it has included data from many developing countries, the focus is primarily on South Asia.

Publication

Health Policy

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