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Disease burden links ecology to economic growth
Date:12/28/2012

r statistical analysis. Most previous attempts to address this topic ignored disease ecology, argue Bonds and colleagues. The team assembled a large data set for all of the world's nations on economics, parasitic and infectious vector-borne diseases, biodiversity (mammals, birds and plants) and other factors. Knowing that diseases are partly determined by ecology, they used a powerful set of statistical methods, new to macroecology, that allowed variables that may have underlying relationships with each other to be teased apart.

The results of the analysis suggest that infectious disease has as powerful an effect on a nation's economic health as governance, say the authors. "The main asset of the poor is their own labor," says Dr Bonds. "Infectious diseases, which are regulated by the environment, systematically steal human resources. Economically speaking, the effect is similar to that of crime or government corruption on undermining economic growth."

This result has important significance for international aid organizations, as it suggests that money spent on combating disease would also stimulate economic growth. Moreover, although diversity of human diseases is highly correlated with diversity of surrounding species, the study indicates that the burden of such human disease actually drops when biodiversity rises. The analysis is inconclusive about why this effect is so strong. The authors suggest that competition and predation limit the survival of disease vectors and free-living parasites where biodiversity is high. The research sets the stage for a number of future analyses that need to lay bare the relationship between health care funding and economic development.


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Contact: Bryan Ghosh
bghosh@plos.org
44-122-344-2837
Public Library of Science
Source:Eurekalert

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