When poverty is the disease, money is the most effective prescription

Dr. Gary Bloch’s patients suffer from a health condition to which many doctors believe there is no prescription – money.

Bloch became obsessed with this question, and at one time found he could do just that – filling out forms that would allow patients on social assistance to access $250 a month more for a special dietary supplement.

Working at the time with the Ontario Coalition Against Poverty, Bloch even participated in a clinic on the lawn of Queen’s Park where he could assist thousands with what they needed most.

Short sighted, the province changed the rules, but it hasn’t deterred Bloch.

Speaking at a TEDx forum in Stouffville as the founder of Health Providers Against Poverty, Bloch says there are four things doctors can do that can dramatically improve patient health.

The first is to ask and listen – noting there is no correlation between income and appearance. The second is to prescribe income, including helping his patients access social supports. The third is to build a poverty team in his office, including a dedicated poverty specialist who understands the current system. The fourth is to continually demand change.

Bloch says almost nobody can sustain themselves on the $600 a month the province pays out in Welfare.

Bloch told the TEDx audience that poverty is not just a moral issue, but a health issue. To watch Dr. Bloch’s impassioned presentation, click the screen below.

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