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Health and education

Free quality health care and education services are vital to our fight against poverty, providing poor people with the foundations for a brighter future.

Reducing the spread of disease

In 2015/16, 1.5 million people benefited from improved sanitation facilities, greatly reducing the spread of disease.

Safe, clean water

In 2015/16, Oxfam provided 5.4 million people with access to clean water. 

The issue

Every day in developing countries, teachers, doctors, nurses and community health workers are changing lives, often working against the odds to provide quality education and health care.

Yet each day more than 72 million children - many of them girls - still miss out on school; 1,400 women die needlessly in pregnancy and child birth; and only 5.2 million people living with HIV who need treatment get the medicines they need (UNAIDS 2010).

This lack of education and health care robs millions of people of their futures.

Education, especially for girls, massively improves children's chances of escaping poverty, but poverty is the main reason why they miss school. Many parents cannot afford the fees, books and uniforms, and many communities do not have the money to run a school.

It's a similar story with health care. Fees are too high, hospitals and clinics are too few, many do not have the medicine people need, and there's a lack of medical staff. Millions of people face the stark choice between low-quality care or none at all. It means unnecessary suffering and ever-deepening poverty, as illness affects people's ability to work.

What we're doing

We help people build and equip schools. And we train teachers to staff them and fight against attitudes and beliefs that prevent girls from completing their education. We also help communities lobby for government support to get more children into local schools, and to hold governments accountable on the delivery of quality education.

We work to improve standards of health care. In rural Georgia, for example, we helped local people establish low-cost clinics to serve 27 remote communities. And in Sierra Leona, our campaigning helped bring free health care to mothers and children under five.

Campaigning for change

We campaign internationally to make cheaper and better medicines available in developing countries, and for their governments to invest in health services, supported by rich countries.

Our Health and Education campaign looks to provide 6 million more health workers and teachers and to make sure that, by 2015, every child has the chance of a good education. Making education for all a reality would give a whole generation the skills they need to beat poverty.

Free public health care would enable people like Emilien, a doctor in Mali, to change the lives of millions more people.

People like Emilien have made a real difference. Imagine what 6 million more could do.

We've eradicated meningitis and whooping cough in my village ... I know change is possible - that's what motivates me and gives me hope.

Emilien, a doctor in Mali

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Make a donation and support our work to tackle food poverty, reduce food waste, and find long lasting solutions to the underlying causes of poverty in the UK.

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Other issues we work on