Psychiatry's Global Challenge; March 1997; Scientific American Magazine; by Kleinman, Cohen; 4 Page(s)
Over the past 50 years, the health and living conditions of people in developing nations have improved dramatically. Average life expectancy in Egypt and India, among other countries, has risen from around 40 to 66 years. Smallpox, which once killed millions annually, has been completely eradicated, and infant mortality has fallen from about 28 to 10 percent of live births. Real average incomes more than doubled, and the percentage of rural families with access to safe water increased from less than 10 to almost 60 percent.
Unfortunately, this remarkable progress in physical well-being has been accompanied by a deterioration in mental health. In many areas outside North America and western Europe, schizophrenia, dementia and other forms of mental illness are on the rise. For example, schizophrenia--one of the most debilitating of mental illnesses, in which thoughts and emotions are sometimes disconnected or distorted by delusions-- is expected to afflict 24.4 million people in low-income societies by the year 2000, a 45 percent increase over the number afflicted in 1985.