and Health...a Prescription for Economic Development?

Literacy is a valuable tool in fighting HIV/AIDS, chronic malnutrition, malaria, and other health issues that plague many developing countries. Literacy and health are deeply intertwined: Without good health, it is difficult to obtain even a low level of literacy in such countries. Conversely, without a functional level of literacy, children and their parents are not able to learn about good health practices, nutrition, and avoiding infections. For instance, a 2002 World Bank study shows a link between education and reduced fertility rates and child mortality rates.

With this in mind, the International Reading Association (IRA) and the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) will showcase the importance and the power of an alliance between literacy and health for positive economic and social development at Global Perspectives 2008 on March 5. This focus on literacy and health mirrors the thematic emphasis for 2007 and 2008 of the United Nations Literacy Decade.

Dr. Jorge Escobedo de la Pena of the Oportunidades Program in Mexico and Francisca Infante of the Chilean Ministry of Health will be the featured speakers. The Oportunidades Program is the principal anti-poverty program of the Mexican government; it focuses on helping poor families in rural and urban communities invest in human capital. Junta Nacional de Auxilio Escolar y Becas (JUNAEB) is a cooperative government-sponsored program between the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Education to foster economic and social development in Chile.

What: Global Perspectives 2008 forum, organized by IRA and PAHO

When: Wednesday, March 5, from 2:00 to 5:30 p.m. (reception to follow)

Where: Pan American Health Organization Headquarters 525 23rd St., N.W., Room A Washington, DC 20037

Who: Featured speakers: Dr. Jorge Escobedo de la Pena of the Oportunidades Program in Mexico and Francisca Infante, Chilean Ministry of Health