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GS Paper 2 – Issues relating to development and management of social sector/ services relating to health, education and human resources.



This refers to diseases that are increasingly common among the populations of the various developed countries of the world. Obesity, cancer, diabetes, hypertension, stroke, and coronary heart disease are considered to be the most common examples of such diseases. They are seen as the outcome of improving living standards in the Western world that have led to a significant increase in the lifespan of people but also led to drastic changes in their daily lifestyle. Diseases of affluence are in contrast to diseases of poverty that are the result of low living standards that prevent people from having sufficient access to quality healthcare.


Examples of Diseases of affluence

Examples of diseases of affluence include mostly chronic non-communicable diseases (NCDs) and other physical health conditions for which personal lifestyles and societal conditions associated with economic development are believed to be an important risk factor — such as type 2 diabetes, asthma, coronary heart disease, cerebrovascular disease, peripheral vascular disease, obesity, hypertension, cancer, alcoholism, gout, and some types of allergy. They may also be considered to include depression and other mental health conditions associated with increased social isolation and lower levels of psychological well being observed in many developed countries. Many of these conditions are interrelated, for example obesity is thought to be a partial cause of many other illnesses.



Less strenuous physical exercise, often through increased use of motor vehicles.

Irregular exercise as a result of office jobs involving no physical labor.

Easy accessibility in society to large amounts of low-cost food.

Greater use of alcohol and tobacco.

Children of affluent families are now exposed to fewer antigens leading to more allergies.

Reduced exposure to infectious agents throughout life gives inexperienced immune system.

More foods which are processed, cooked, and commercially provided.



Prevalence in countries of affluence

The Centers of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released a report in 2015 indicating that more than 100 million Americans have diabetes or pre-diabetes. Diabetes was the seventh leading cause of death in United States in 2015. In developed countries like the United States, the risk for diabetes is seen in people with low socioeconomic status (SES).                             

                     According to the International Diabetes Federation, more than 58 million people are diagnosed with diabetes in the European Union Region (EUR), and this will go up to 66.7 million by 2045. Similar to other affluent countries like America and Canada, diabetes is more prevalent in the poorer parts of Europe like Central and Eastern Europe.


Allergy/Autoimmune diseases

The rate of allergies around the world has risen in industrialized nations over the past 50 years. A number of public health measures, such as sterilized milk, use of antibiotics and improved food production have contributed to a decrease in infections in developed countries. There is a proposed causal relationship, known as the "hygiene hypothesis" that indicates that there are more autoimmune disorders and allergies in developed countries with fewer infections.  In developing countries, it is assumed that the rates of allergies are lower than developed countries. That assumption may not be accurate due to limited data on prevalence. Research has found an increase in asthma by 10% in countries such as Peru, Costa Rica, and Brazil.


Diseases of Affluence Vs Diseases of Poverty

Diseases of affluence, previously called diseases of rich person, is a term sometimes given to selected diseases and other health conditions which are commonly thought to be a result of increasing wealth in a society. Also referred to as the "Western disease" paradigm, these diseases are in contrast to so-called "diseases of poverty", which largely result from and contribute to human impoverishment. These diseases of affluence have vastly increased in prevalence since the end of World War II.

            In contrast, the diseases of poverty have tended to be largely infectious diseases, or the result of poor living conditions. These include tuberculosis, malaria, and intestinal diseases. Increasingly, research is finding that diseases thought to be diseases of affluence also appear in large part in the poor. These diseases include obesity and cardiovascular disease and, coupled with infectious diseases, these further increase global health inequalities.


Previous Year Questions

  1. Identify the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) that are related to health. Discuss the success of the actions taken by the Government for achieving the same. (2013)
  2. Public health system has limitation in providing universal health coverage. Do you think that private sector can help in bridging the gap? What other viable alternatives do you suggest? (2015)